Letter to ONE, from St. Louis

In 1958, a St. Louis resident who identified himself as “Mr. H” wrote to the editors of ONE, the first LGBTQ magazine ever published in the United States. Below is the text of his letter:

Dear Don Slater:

I am writing you to tell of the good that I am getting out of ONE. I have enjoyed the articles on “Successful Homosexuals.” It makes me happy to hear that some of us can stand up for our rights and lead normal lives. I have many “straight” friends who tell me that the way I live is my own business and because I am gay is no reason to dissolve friendships.

We shouldn’t try to force this thing down people but, on the other hand, we shouldn’t let them walk all over us. My family has known about me since I was thirteen. I am thirty-one now [in 1958]. None of them have turned me down and they also accept my gay friends. There are one hundred and fifty employees where I work and they all respect me for being a gentleman. If I didn’t hold myself as a human being should I wouldn’t still be on the payroll.

Mr. H

St. Louis, Missouri

Sources to learn more about LGBTQ people in the 1940s and 1950s are scarce, so even small glimpses offered by a short letter such as this are exceptionally valuable.

ONE, February 1, 1958. Accessed via Independent Voices.

This items was located thanks to the keyword search-ability provided by the Independent Voices, “a digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals, drawn from the special collections of participating libraries. These periodicals were produced by feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Hispanics, LGBT activists, the extreme right-wing press and alternative literary magazines during the latter half of the 20th century.”  Between 2014 and 2017 university libraries and private donors across the country provided over a million dollars to make these publications freely available online.

If you are interested in reading the articles on “Successful Homosexuals” mentioned by Mr. H in his letter to ONE, browse the 1956 and 1957 issues online. You can also read or search through other historic LGBTQ publications from around the country, including a number of lesbian and feminist focused publications such as Big Mamma Rag.

Look for announcements and updates about the project on our Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis blog or icon_rss_16 subscribe for updates. 

Questions or looking for more information about the project? email mrectenwald@wustl.edu

About the author

Miranda Rectenwald is Curator of Local History, Washington University Special Collections. More info.