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Goodstein, David (1932-1985)  
 
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Publisher David Goodstein transformed The Advocate, a Los Angeles gay newspaper, into the leading American gay newsmagazine. He also worked as an activist in the cause of gay rights.

Early Life and Career

Goodstein came from a privileged background. Born into a wealthy Denver family in 1932, he had a materially if not socially comfortable childhood. Afflicted with scoliosis, he had to undergo physical therapy for his twisted spine, an effort that was not completely successful.

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Schoolmates made fun of his appearance, not just because of his physical problem, but also because he was overweight and effeminate. He claimed to have been even more uncomfortable with his own family and said that he used to hide under the porch to avoid them.

Although Goodstein may not have been handsome or popular, he was certainly intelligent. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from Cornell University in 1954 and went on to earn a law degree from Columbia University. After graduation from law school, he remained in New York City, where he established a flourishing practice as a criminal defense attorney.

He next moved to Wall Street, using the profits from his law career to co-found Compufund, a company that used computers to manage stock portfolios. He also made his first forays into the political world, joining the "brain trust" of Mayor John Lindsay.

The Wells Fargo Bank aggressively recruited Goodstein because of his expertise in computerized investing. When he moved to San Francisco in 1971 to develop a system for the bank, he seemed poised for a successful career in stock management.

The course of his life changed abruptly, however. After Goodstein mentioned to his boss's wife that he was gay, she repeated the information to her husband, and Goodstein was promptly fired.

Gay Activism

Shocked and outraged, Goodstein set his sights on gaining an influential position in politics and in the gay rights movement. Having sold both the lucrative Compufund and some New York real estate, Goodstein had the financial resources to pursue his goals.

Goodstein's first move was to create the Whitman-Radclyffe Foundation (combining the names of gay poet Walt Whitman and lesbian novelist Radclyffe Hall), an organization to educate the public and to further gay and lesbian social and political issues. He hired Jim Foster, a San Francisco gay activist who had recently formed a gay political group, the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, as executive director. In 1972, Foster became the first openly gay politician to address a Democratic National Convention on the subject of gay rights.

Goodstein's second venture began in 1972 when he organized the Committee for Sexual Law Reform to support a move to repeal California's sodomy law, which accomplished its goal when the California legislature repealed the statute in 1975 (effective January 1, 1976).

The Advocate

Goodstein's most successful enterprise was the purchase of a newspaper in 1974. For an initial payment of $300,000, with $700,000 to be remitted over the next ten years, Goodstein bought The Advocate, which had been founded in 1967 as a local Los Angeles newspaper. In 1970, the newspaper had become national in scope, featuring gay news from around the country.

Goodstein transformed the newspaper, which is the oldest continually produced gay publication in the United States. He began by firing all of the editorial staff, as well as columnist Arthur Evans, one of the founders of the Gay Activists Alliance.

Goodstein, who had previously attempted to buy After Dark, an entertainment magazine that, while not specifically gay in focus, had a strong appeal for gay men, now chose to change The Advocate's emphasis from news-reporting to a magazine that, in addition to news, also covered gay and lesbian culture, with features on celebrities, fashion, and leisure, as well as books and films.

The slogan that Goodstein added to the front page, "Touching your lifestyle," underscored the new direction in which he wanted to take The Advocate. The format changed from a rather amateurish newspaper to a glossy magazine. Eventually, he greatly increased the journalistic professionalism of The Advocate (and thereby of the gay press generally) by hiring accomplished reporters, such as Randy Shilts and others, and contributing editors, such as Richard Hall, who managed the books section.

Goodstein also moved the publication's headquarters from Los Angeles to San Mateo, which was not only more convenient for him but also out of the orbit of activists in Los Angeles and San Francisco, with whom he frequently engaged in feuds.

Another new feature of The Advocate was Goodstein's own column, "Opening Space," which he used to air his views on the gay rights movement.

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