…what I found as I traveled around the country researching was that the notion of a “gay market” was already enjoying wide currency nearly a decade before Stonewall. It was most clearly visible on the nation’s newsstands. A social scientist who examined the largest newsstand in Dayton, Ohio, in 1964 found twenty-five magazines targeting a gay audience — so many that the salesperson had established a special section for what he called his “homosexual magazines. He mixed the magazines of the homophile political organizations, ONE and Mattachine Review, with the far larger cache of physiques. With twenty or more “little queer magazines” on American newsstands, each selling between twenty thousand and forty thousand copies, physique magazines represented a major industry.
…Editors of tabloid and mainstream magazines realized the extent of this market whenever they published an article on homosexuality and saw their sales soar. Homophile leaders, too, saw how putting the words “the Homosexual Magazine” on their otherwise demurely titled ONE magazine increased sales.
That is from the recent and quite interesting book by David K. Johnson, Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs sparked a Movement. Remind me again, this earlier media landscape was a) worse than the internet, or b) better than the internet. Which one was it again…? In any case, this book is an excellent reminder of just how much the early gay political movement was tied to markets and consumer capitalism.