Massachusetts Historical Society


Queer Abby: Newspaper Advice Columnists as Allies for Gays and Lesbians, 1960-1980


Author: David Ferrara, University of Alabama
Comment: Lauren Gutterman, University of Texas at Austin

This dissertation chapter examines newspaper advice columnists as resources for queer Americans. From the early 1960s onward, columnists like Abigail Van Buren, Ann Landers, and Helen Bottel elevated queer voices to millions of readers. Within the context of the nascent homophile movement, nationally syndicated columnists created alternative platforms for mediated discussions about queer sexualities. They proliferated information that could be otherwise difficult to obtain, and occasionally provided counsel intended to destigmatize queer desire. Advice columns, by their interactive nature, provided queer people a forum to discuss their identities, articulate their desires, and contradict misconceptions about homosexuality before mainstream audiences.

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