Co-Founder Aristide Laurent Dead at 70

By Neal Broverman

Originally published on October 31 2011 7:55 PM ET

Aristide Laurent, a longtime gay rights activist and one of the founders of The Advocate, died at his Los Angeles home on Wednesday following a long battle with cancer.

Along with Richard Mitch, Bill Mau, and Sam Allen, Laurent in 1967 created the gay newspaper The Los Angeles Advocate; it would soon become a national magazine known simply as The Advocate. Laurent, an ABC television employee, produced early issues of the The Advocate clandestinely in the studio's basement print shop. Laurent used a pseudonym, as most did at the time, and wrote a nightlife column for the nascent publication.

When The Advocate briefly moved to the Bay Area in 1975, Laurent stayed in Los Angeles and started NewsWest, a gay-related newspaper that printed until 1977.

Laurent fought vociferously against police harassment of gays, participating in riots at L.A.'s Black Cat bar, which predated Stonewall by two years. Laurent was also active in ACT UP in the '80s, and attended the March on Washington in 1993.

The activist was born in Magnolia Springs, Ala. in 1941, the son of a farm hand and his wife. Laurent was an altar boy and choir leader at his local church before joining the Air Force in 1960, where he served for four years as a signals intelligence operator in Turkey, as well as an instructor to new recruits.

Laurent is survived by nieces Tina Weeks and Natalie Dykes of Magnolia Springs, Ala. and a nephew, Kevin Weeks of Baton Rouge, La. Services will be held at St. John's Catholic Church in Magnolia Springs on Nov. 5. Memorial contributions may be sent to Best Friends Animal Society.