SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — This weekend’s pride celebration will be extra-special for San Francisco’s first LBGTQ newspaper. The Bay Times recently marked its 40th birthday.

The history of San Francisco’s gay community has been one of struggle, from the battle for gay rights to the scourge of AIDS to the election and assassination of Supervisor Harvey Milk…

“And the Bay Times was born right in the middle of that in May of 1978,” said SF Bay Times co-publisher Jennifer Viegas.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the SF Bay Times was the first newspaper published by and for all LGBTQ people, both men and women.

Its current co-publishers say the strength of the bi-monthly newspaper is its commitment to cover an entire community that has often felt socially isolated.

“I grew up in the state of Mississippi and I didn’t know there was another queer person in the world,” said SF Bay Times co-publisher Dr. Betty Sullivan. “And the only reason I found that out is because media told me so.”

“To this day, I suppose, that emotional drama is represented in the paper,” said Viegas. “We tell all of those stories — the good and the bad — and just try to represent it as honestly as we can.”

Frequent Bay Times contributor Andrea Shorter says that mission has earned the paper a respected reputation in the community.

“If you say, ‘I’m writing for the SF Bay Times. I’m part of the SF Bay Times team.’ — in that community, people take notice of that and want to participate,” said Shorter.

Activist Patrick Carney moved to SF just months after the paper opened 40 years ago. The co-founder of the iconic “Pink Triangle” says the Bay Times has always played an essential role in the Castro District.

“Without them, a lot of the word wouldn’t get out. And so they help create a sense of community,” said Carney. “That’s what’s most important to me about the Bay Times.”

And this chronicle of history is now a part of history itself. The original editions of the newspaper are being stored and protected for future generations in the archives of the SF Public Library.

“It’s like being there when you touch the paper. It’s like being in that time period and being able to see,” said Dee Dee Kramer, program manager of the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center.

  1. Thank you for the coverage, KPIX! All of us at the San Francisco Bay Times enjoyed traveling down memory lane during the creation of this feature. Just to clarify the opener: the San Francisco Bay Times was the first LGBTQ newspaper founded jointly and equally by gay men and women. Launched in 1978, the San Francisco Bay Times remains the largest and oldest LGBTQ newspaper in Northern California that is now, and always has been, fully funded and owned by LGBTQ individuals. Happy Pride!