The Florida LGBTQ+ Collection – UPDATED


By Bridget Bihm-Manuel, Rachel Laue, and James Cusick –

The P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History has started a new collection on LGBTQ+ publications in Florida, focusing on newspapers or periodicals published during the 1970s and 1980s. 

The collection first came together around  an 18-month run of the Miami-based The Weekly News (TWN) for 1980 and 1981. Originally published by the Dade County Coalition for Human Rights, TWN advocated for the 1977 passage of a basic Gay Rights regulation in South Florida prohibiting discrimination in housing and employment.

Rally for Tallahassee
TWN, April 26, 1981, with its bolder cover page.

Successful passage of the regulation was hailed across the United States as a major step forward in LGBTQ+ rights. However, it came under immediate attack by the Save Our Children movement, an anti-gay lobbying group headed by singer/crusader Anita Bryant, the spokeswoman for the Florida citrus industry. Under pressure from Bryant, who had a national profile, Dade County repealed the legislation, setting off a wave of counter-protests from LGBTQ+ rights groups in the United States in Canada, who called for a boycott of all Florida orange and orange juice products as a response.

TWN went on to establish itself as a not-for-profit independent newspaper and member of the National Gay Newspaper Guild (NGNG) and had a circulation of approximately 20,000 issues per week at the peak of its production. The run of TWN in this collection is from January 1980 to April 1981 and includes coverage of the Mariel boatlift in Miami and the 1980 election contest between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  HIV/AIDS was also first detected in the United States during the time of this run.

Researchers can find the current holdings of the Florida LGBTQ+ Collection by consulting our online finding guide. For online access to Florida publications that post-date 2000, you can also see Digital LGBTQIA+ in the UF Digital Collections.  The best research archive in Florida for LGBTQ+ topics is the Stonewall Museum and Archive in Fort Lauderdale which provides links to publications that can be viewed online. In addition, JSTOR’s Reveal Digital is also a good source for online runs of many alternative press and activist publications in its Independent Voices section.

See the Finding Guide to the Florida LGBTQ+ Collection

Go to Digital LGBTQIA+  in the UF Digital Collections

Go to Holdings at the Stonewall National Museum and Archive, Fort Lauderdale


New in the UF LGBTQ+ Collection

Our collection at the University of Florida has now expanded substantially to encompass 28 boxes of publications, which are described in our online Guide. Some of the oldest items in the collection include issues of ONE and The Ladder. ONE, Incorporated, was a homophile organization founded in 1952 by members of the Mattachine Society.  Its goal was “to publish and disseminate a magazine dealing primarily with homosexuality from a scientific, historical, and critical point of view, and to aid in the social integration and rehabilitation of the sexual variant.” It produced ONE, the earliest pro-gay magazine in the United States, which was published from 1953 to 1967. 

In 1955, a lesbian couple in San Franscisco founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the earliest lesbian social and political organization in the United States.  Its goal was to “promote the integration of the homosexual into society” through education of homosexuals, education of the public, participation in research projects, and changes to the laws surrounding homosexuality.  The Ladder, which launched in 1956 and ran until 1972, was its mouthpiece and became the first nationally distributed lesbian magazine in the country.




ONE Magazine, volume 3, number 7, July 1955


The Ladder, volume 8, number 2, November 1963

The number of Florida-based publications in the collection has also grown, including almost fifty issues of TLW MagazineTLW, which stands for The Last Word, began in February 1993.  With offices in Jacksonville and then St. Petersburg, most of its content centered on North Florida and Central Florida.  TLW was an entertainment magazine with content such as horoscopes, features on the gay club scene, and reviews of books and movies.  It reached audiences in five states (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee) and claimed to have over 40,000 readers for each issue.  The magazine is no longer published, and its end date is unclear, but it was published for at least ten years.

Mama Raga/Kindred Sisters has also been added to the collection. This publication started in 1988 as a single-page newsletter with no title.  Womyn-by-Womyn, a group of lesbians who produced events for women in Gainesville, agreed to include the newsletter in their mailings to help get if off the ground.  Over time, supported by subscriptions, donations, and advertisements, the newsletter grew into a full-fledged magazine called Mama Raga.  It published news about the lesbian community in Gainesville and around the world, but also included poems, stories, artwork, and letters from members of the local community.   The editorial staff also grew from a single woman named Marsha to a group of ten to twelve women who called themselves the Mama Raga Collective.  In 2009, the collective chose to change the magazine’s name to Kindred Sisters, to better reflect its mission statement.  The last issue appeared in May 2014.

Kindred Spirits
Kindred Sisters, May 2014


Another exciting addition to the collection is an array of documents and ephemera on LGBTQ+ history and culture from across the state.  One noteworthy item is the North Central Florida AIDS Network (NCFAN) “AIDS in Our Community” scrapbook.  NCFAN, which was established in 1987 was a not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization that provided services to people living with AIDS and the community at large in Alachua, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Sumter, Suwanee, and Union counties.  It focused heavily on education, offering services such as classes on AIDS prevention and care; a speaker’s bureau; and an AIDS in the Workplace Program.  For individuals living with AIDS, NCFAN offered legal services, a buddy program, Necessities for Living supplies (such as household cleaners and personal care products), and case managers for people participating in the Project AIDS Care (PAC), which was a Medicaid waiver program.  Funding for NCFAN came from a variety of sources including donations, fundraisers, grants, Project AIDS Care/Medicaid Waiver Case Management, the Florida Department of Health, and the United Way of Alachua County.  Despite community support, the program was deeply in debt and was forced to close in 2000.


The “AIDS in Our Community” scrapbook was crafted by an unnamed person associated with NCFAN.  It contains newspaper articles from 1996 to 1997 on the AIDS epidemic in Alachua County and the surrounding area.  It was very neatly and carefully constructed and shows how significant the fight against AIDS was for NCFAN’s volunteers.


A piece of very recent LGBTQ history is this scrap of ribbon from the 2019 celebration of Gainesville’s rainbow crosswalks.  Terry Fleming, former president of the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida (PCCNCF) led the effort to have the sidewalks installed through Gainesville’s Art in Crosswalks program.   PCCNCF also raised the $7,000 dollars necessary to fund the project.  There are three crosswalks: one next to City Hall on NE 1st Street, a second on SE 1st St in front of the County Administration Building, and a third at SE 1st Street in front of the Hippodrome Theatre. The city installed the sidewalks in time for the celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11th and held a ribbon cutting ceremony next to City Hall.

Other publications in the collection include four issues of The Homosexual Citizen, a co-publication of the Mattachine Societies of Washington D.C. and Florida. Mattachine Societies were the fore-runners of the modern gay rights movement in the 1950s in the United States. In Florida, the president of the Mattachine Society was Richard Inman, one of the first gay activists in the South. The Homosexual Citizen ran for only 1 year, 1966-1967, when its editorial staff parted ways. The papers of two of the newsletter’s other founders, Frank Kameny, who was also a famous NASA astronomer, and Lilli Vincenz are available at the Library of Congress.

Visit Orlando
2014 Travel Guide

Two issues of The Advocate from 1976-1977 and two issues of Newswest from 1977, both newspapers based out of California, provide further context about the milieu of mid-twentieth century LGBTQ+ news publishing. A 1980 issue of Texas newspaper, Upfront America, and a 1977 issue of the Gay People’s Union from Wisconsin, also demonstrate that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights was not confined to the east and west coasts but rather was part of a network of diverse voices from all parts of the United States.  All these issues contain articles pertaining to Florida.

The collection will supplement and fill in gaps in the University of Florida’s online collection, Digital LGBTQIA+ ( which features 25 periodicals published by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual organizations, primarily from 2006 and later.