New York Native
TypeLGBT Bi-weekly newspaper
PublisherCharles Ortleb
EditorCharles Ortleb
FoundedDecember 5, 1980
Ceased publicationJanuary 13, 1997
HeadquartersNew York City

The New York Native was a gay bi-weekly newspaper published in New York City (NYC) from December 1980 until January 13, 1997. It was the only gay paper in NYC during the early part of the AIDS crisis and pioneered reporting on AIDS when others ignored it.[1][2] The paper subsequently became known for attacking the scientific community's view of HIV as the cause of AIDS and endorsing "AIDS denialism".[3]

First news story on AIDS Edit

On May 18, 1981, the New York Native, then America's most influential gay newspaper, published the very first newspaper report on the disease that became known as AIDS. Having heard of a very rare form of cancer that seemed to strike some gay men, Lawrence Mass, who was the paper's medical writer, called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and was advised that the rumors of a "gay cancer" were unfounded. He then wrote his story and it was headlined: "Disease Rumors Largely Unfounded."[4][5] Next month, on June 5, 1981, the CDC published the world's first clinical report on what became AIDS in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).[4] On that same date, the CDC report was picked up and reported by The Los Angeles Times as the first mainstream newspaper coverage of the new disease.[5] Although the Native reported this almost three weeks prior, the June 5th date is often used as the first report of AIDS. However, it was not known as AIDS until September 1982.[5]

Larry Kramer article on AIDS Edit

In 1983, Larry Kramer wrote a famous impassioned front page piece, entitled "1,112 and Counting" for the New York Native, which was published on March 14, 1983. From a profile on Larry Kramer in The New Yorker magazine by Michael Specter, published in 2002: " was a five-thousand-word screed that accused nearly everyone connected with health care in America—officials at the Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta, researchers at the National Institutes of Health, in Washington, doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in Manhattan, and local politicians (particularly Mayor Ed Koch)—of refusing to acknowledge the implications of the nascent AIDS epidemic..."[6][7][8]

In that piece, Kramer said: "If this article doesn't rouse you to anger, fury, rage and action, gay men may have no future on this Earth." [9]

Controversy and demise Edit

In a New York Times article on the demise of the New York Native, Charles Orteb, the Native's publisher and editor, said that he was shutting down due to financial problems, but he conceded that the paper failed largely due its controversial AIDS coverage. After its initial and pioneering success in making the gay community more aware of the AIDS crisis, the paper later became unpopular for its conspiracy theories about AIDS and its causes, including the claim that HIV did not cause AIDS. The gay activist group Act Up boycotted the publication in the mid 1980s.[1][10] While there was initially some support for the Native's criticism of the governmental and scientific response to the AIDS epidemic, it eroded as Ortleb and the paper endorsed increasingly unlikely alternatives to the HIV as the cause of AIDS. The cultural critic and AIDS activist Douglas Crimp wrote in 1987 that "...rather than performing a political analysis of the ideology of science, Ortleb merely touts the crackpot theory of the week, championing whoever is the latest outcast from the world of academic and government research."[3], p. 101

Another contributing factor is that gay newspapers don't tend to survive in a splintered city like New York, where it was competing with other gay publications, such as LGNY (now Gay City News, 1995-), QW (1991-1992), and OutWeek (1989-1991), and also with the The Village Voice, a weekly alternative newspaper.[1][11] The paper's circulation decreased from 20,000 in 1985, to 8,000 in 1996.[1]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Final edition - analysis of the cause of closure of the New York Native gay issues publication, Chris Bull, The Advocate, February 18, 1997
  2. And The Band Played On Randy Shilts, St. Martin's Press, 2000
  3. 3.0 3.1 Steven Epstein. Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1996. ISBN 0-520-20233-3.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Up from Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America, Larry P. Gross, Columbia Univ. Press, 2001, ISBN 0231119526
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Word for Word/Nameless Dread; 20 Years Ago, the First Clues To the Birth of a Plague Jack Begg, The New York Times, June 3, 2001
  6. Specter, Michael (2002-05-13). Profiles: Public Nuisance. The New Yorker. Retrieved on 2007-12-16.
  7. Gay Ol' Times Steven Weinstein, The New York Blade, November 21, 2007
  8. Text of 1,112 and Counting Larry Kramer, 1983
  9. Ruling Shows How Far Nation Has Come on Epidemic, Justin Gillis, The Washington Post, June 26, 1998
  10. Controversial Gay Magazine Shuts Down, The New York Times, Robin Pogrebin, January 9, 1997
  11. A Mini-War of Gay Newspapers; A New Weekly Draws Fire Even Before Its First Issue, David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, October 22, 1997

External link sEdit

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