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social sciences

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Slater, Don (1923-1997)  
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From the early days, there were women on the ONE staff, including art director Eve Elloree and Ann Carll Reid, the editor from February 1954 until 1958. Lesbian readers complained that the initial issues were dominated by pieces by and about gay men, however, and so the February 1954 number, entitled "The Feminine Viewpoint," was written entirely by and about women. A column of the same name appeared frequently thereafter.

A lawyer advised against including fiction in ONE so that the magazine could not "be accused of catering to the perverted." Nevertheless, Slater put the story "But They'll Outgrow It" by David Freeman in the July 1953 issue, and trouble ensued.

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The August 1953 issue was seized by the United States Post Office, but a lawyer was able to get the copies released three weeks later. The apparent victory was only a temporary reprieve, however; in October 1954 Postmaster Otto K. Olesen confiscated another issue, declaring it obscene because of its inclusion of what Joseph Hansen, Slater's biographer (and also the author of a highly successful series of mystery novels featuring a gay detective), called "a limp lesbian love-story and some crude comic verses."

The legal battle was much more protracted this time. After adverse decisions in a U. S. District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the case was accepted by the U. S. Supreme Court. In January 1958 the justices, without requiring oral arguments, unanimously reversed the lower courts. The decision meant that gay or lesbian content was not, in and of itself, sufficient grounds for declaring a publication obscene and that gay and lesbian magazines (unless they were pornographic) could be sent through the mail.

A threat from the outside had been removed, but ONE became beset by internal strife. In 1965 Slater found himself at loggerheads with W. Dorr Legg, another of the founding members.

Legg wanted to make ONE's mission primarily educational, offering classes and lectures. Slater preferred to keep the emphasis on the magazine, which was able to reach, enlighten, and give hope to many people throughout the country, while attendance at Legg's courses and events at the Los Angeles center was fairly modest. Their disagreements led to a power struggle between the two men for control of the organization.

When Legg, the Chairman of the Board of ONE, replaced the other members of the Board of Directors with people of his own choice--a move that Slater believed contrary to the by-laws of the corporation--Slater retaliated by arranging for the removal of all of the contents of ONE's offices and its transportation to a space that he had rented in a factory building. The midnight operation, carried out by Slater, Reyes, Slater's aide at the magazine Billy Glover, and a moving van owner and his crew, took only six hours to complete, as ONE did not have a large amount of assets. Among them, however, was a prize item--the only copy of the list of subscribers to the magazine.

Six months later, and after a series of lawsuits and counter-suits, Slater emerged with possession of all the property stored in the factory, and Legg held the right to the exclusive use of the name ONE, ending a confusing situation with two completely different magazines appearing under the same title.

"Tangents," a news feature supplemented by wry commentary from Jim Kepner (writing as Del McIntire), had been the most popular feature of ONE Magazine, and it was the name that Slater, Hansen, Glover, and Ross Ingersoll chose for their new magazine.

Lesbians were well represented in Tangents. Hansen's lesbian wife, Jane Hansen (writing as Jane Race), regularly penned articles for "The Feminine Viewpoint" column, revived from ONE. Their daughter, Barbara (writing as Carol Harris), contributed women's fiction, as did Barbara Grier (writing as Gene Damon), who was also indefatigable as a reviewer of books of interest to the glbtq community.

Although Slater was generally not much given to public demonstrations, on Armed Forces Day, May 21, 1966, he organized a motorcade through Los Angeles and Hollywood in protest of the discriminatory policies of the United States military with respect to homosexuals. Activist Harry Hay and his life partner John Burnside made signs for the cars in the raucous parade. Joseph and Jane Hansen--"with [their] lovers and kids . . . packed into whatever junkyard jalopy [they] owned at the time"--also took part, as did California State University-Northridge professor Vern Bullough, who was working with the ACLU to decriminalize homosexual conduct. The group, recalled Hansen, included "a lot of respectable protesters," among them "clergymen [and] professionals, with respectable cars."

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