Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project
Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project


Local LGBTQ media have been a critical component of Wisconsin's move toward wider LGBTQ rights and self-awareness.

While the mainstream media historically suppressed more positive LGBTQ news and stressed the shadier side, there were exceptions. But by and large, mainstream newspapers and TV news were not supportive or helpful to the LGBTQ community, and 'gay bars' could not advertise as such. It was thus difficult for men or women 'coming out' or visiting to find like-minded people.

The first breakthrough was probably in the 1960s, when national "gay guides" began appearing. These small books, usually small enough to fit in a back jeans pocket, began to appear. Arranged by city within state, they listed 'gay' bars and often cruisy areas where guys could often find other gay men. Dedicated LGBTQ publications were the biggest advancement: now there were platforms for LGBTQ people to both find more locally-relevant news, find gay bars and other gay-friendly businesses (restaurants and later retail), and also to collaborate on ideas and meet others with similar interests.

Over time, mainstream media ( newspapers, radio, TV ) also ran more positive news and stories. This section explores media coverage of LGBTQ people and events over time.

We need your help!

All of our efforts take people to research, to collect, to remember and document those memories. If you are willing to help in any way, let us know!

The Media section in the History of the LGBTQ Community in Wisconsin can be viewed on the archived site