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Pioneering Gay
Chicago publisher dies

Pioneering Gay
Chicago publisher dies

Ralph Paul Gernhardt, who cofounded Gay Chicago magazine three decades ago, has died of lung cancer.

Ralph Paul Gernhardt, a pioneering publisher who cofounded Gay Chicago magazine three decades ago, has died of lung cancer, the Associated Press reports. He was 72.

Gernhardt started a telephone hotline offering a recorded message about gay-friendly parties and clubs in 1972. The line's popularity convinced him that he had found a niche that was being underserved, so he cofounded Gay Chicago in 1976.

"He was willing to stick his neck out during a time when most publications wouldn't have the guts to put 'gay' in the publication's name," Stacy Bridges, the magazine's associate publisher, told the AP.

In addition to its rambunctious entertainment coverage, the magazine had outspoken views on HIV/AIDS and discrimination, and it promoted safer-sex practices and HIV testing. Gay Chicago also became known for its Grabby Awards, now in their 14th year, celebrating the best achievements in gay erotic videos.

Gernhardt served in the Air Force as a young man, then worked as a radio broadcaster for 17 years in Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming, according to his son.

Gernhardt died Sunday at his home on the city's north side. He is survived by his son, Craig--who now publishes Gay Chicago--a daughter, two sisters, and three grandchildren. (The Advocate)

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