Gay Sunshine Records
Span Dates: 1955-2005
Bulk Dates: 1970-2005
Volume: 57.7 linear feet. 18 record boxes, 52 archive cartons, 9 clamshell photograph binders, 8 flat boxes,
The records consist of publications, editorial records, audio-visual materials, and administrative and personal records collected, used and/or created by Winston Leyland as the publisher of Gay Sunshine Journal, Gay Sunshine Press, and Leyland Publications, 1970-2005. The records include the works, interviews, and/or correspondence of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Lou Harrison, Christopher Isherwood, Taylor Mead, John Rechy, Ned Rorem, Samuel Steward, Gore Vidal, and Tennessee Williams among others.
editor, anthologist and publisher of Gay Sunshine Journal, Gay Sunshine Press and Leyland Publications, was born in 1940 in Lancashire, England. In 1952 his family moved to Rhode Island where Leyland attended high school and two years of college before entering the Milton, Massachusetts, seminary of the Society of Saint Columban. After ordination in 1966 he was assigned, at his request, to study toward a master’s degree in medieval history at the University of California, Los Angeles. After speaking out against the Vietnam War in a Los Angeles parish, he received an order of house arrest. This incident, combined with a growing sense of his gay identity, gave him the impetus to leave the church in 1968.
Beginning in early 1969 Leyland joined the Los Angeles Times where he worked almost two years as a proofreader. Leyland moved to Berkeley in the fall of 1970 and became involved with the newly formed tabloid gay liberation paper Gay Sunshine Journal.
Gay Sunshine Journal
Gay Sunshine Journal went through three stages during its publication lifetime. During the first period (1970) the paper was published by an independent collective affiliated loosely with the Berkeley Gay Liberation Front (GLF). The title of the paper reflects in part the fact that “sunshine” was a counter-culture slang word for acid (LSD) as well as the general implications of light: the dawn of gay liberation. These early post-Stonewall issues of Gay Sunshine Journal are filled with much local and national news of demonstrations and other gay liberation activities. The report on the San Francisco gay liberation demonstration of 1970 at the Stud bar, Gary Alinder’s first-person account "My Gay Soul," and Huey Newton's Black Panther manifesto on gay liberation appeared originally in Gay Sunshine Journal during this early period.
Following the collapse of the Berkeley GLF in early 1971, the original Gay Sunshine collective was dissolved and the paper suspended. Leyland resurrected the paper in spring 1971 in San Francisco. Issues 6 through 15 were distributed nationally during this second stage (1971-1972) with Leyland as sole coordinator.
During this second period the paper espoused a balanced approach as a catalyst in the national gay community, encouraging the building of gay alternative structures and groups, and raising consciousness on pivotal issues. The paper published in-depth material on the oppression suffered by gay prisoners and on other gay liberation topics, as well as soliciting and printing more gay literary material. Several articles by Ralph Schaffer, a Los Angeles gay activist, appeared in the paper, as well as articles on his murder in 1972.
The third stage in the history of Gay Sunshine Journal was the longest (1973-1982) as well as the most fruitful. Issues 16 through 47 (several of them double issues) appeared during this period. The people who had worked marginally in the production of earlier issues moved on to other involvements, leaving Leyland was as a "one-man band" coordinating and putting out the paper. San Francisco's Waller Press printed the journal, and beginning in the mid-1970s, Bill Rock took over most of the typesetting (a function he would also perform for most of Leyland's book publications).
During the initial phase of this period, Gay Sunshine Journal continued to appear in tabloid format but became more in-depth—in number of pages per issue as well as intellectually. The paper didn’t carry any “hard news” but was more of a literary/political quarterly. Leyland began an acclaimed series of in-depth interviews with gay writers and artists—subsequently published in two book volumes as Gay Sunshine Interviews. Interviews with Christopher Isherwood, John Giorno, John Rechy and Lou Harrison were conducted by Leyland, while others, including those with Jean Genet, William Burroughs, Gore Vidal and Allen Ginsberg, were done by different people and then sent to Leyland either already typed out or on tape ready to be transcribed and edited. During these years Leyland actively took the initiative in seeking out innovative and pioneering material for publication, including historical and literary essays, non-Western gay literature in translation, gay fiction, and gay poetry.
Deciding to publish material in book format, Leyland started Gay Sunshine Press in 1975. In 1977 Gay Sunshine Press was incorporated as a non-profit corporation, with Leyland as coordinator and editor-in-chief. As his work load with book publishing increased through the late seventies, Leyland decided he could no longer maintain the journal, eventually discontinuing the publication in 1982.
In the late 1970s Leyland applied for and received several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Among the books funded in part by these grants were the Allen Ginsberg/Peter Orlovsky collection of love poems and letters Straight Hearts' Delight (1980), Jean Genet's Collected Poems (1981), the Brazilian gay novel Bom Crioulo, and the anthology of gay poetry Orgasms of Light (1978). Although these federal grants dried up in the early 1980s, Leyland continued to receive grants for book projects from the California Arts Council in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Throughout the 1980s Leyland strove to publish innovative volumes on various aspects of the gay reality. Among the volumes of Latin American gay literature, Leyland's favorite was My Deep Dark Pain Is Love (1983), which included fiction (and some non-fiction) by twenty-four writers from five countries: Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Cuba. At this time Leyland also began the popular book anthologies of true homosexual experiences edited by Boyd McDonald. Other pioneering volumes include Geoff Mains' Urban Aboriginals: A Celebration of Leathersexuality (1984); Ahmad al-Tifashi's anthology of medieval Arabic stories and poems The Delight of Hearts (1988); and two ground-breaking books on Walt Whitman, Drum Beats and Calamus Lovers, edited by Charley Shively.
Gay Sunshine Press—by 1991 the oldest independent gay press in the country—continued to publish gay literary material and other non-fiction within the framework of its non-profit status. In 1984 Leyland started Leyland Publications to publish books of gay erotica, fiction, and other pioneering material which needed legally to be done under a separate imprint.
Since 1991 previous hit Winston Leyland next hit has published some of his best reviewed books including Queer Dharma: Voices of Gay Buddhists, volumes 1 and 2; Out in the Castro; Out of the Closet into our Hearts; and Openly Gay, Openly Christian. Keeping true to the international scope of his publications, Winston also has published Partings at Dawn: An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature and Out of the Blue: Russia's Hidden Gay Literature. previous hit Winston Leyland's next hit last publication came in 2004 with his 26th volume of Meatmen: An Anthology of Gay Male Comics, completing his eighteen-year run of the provocative series. (From finding aid)
See his profile on our website.
A full list of all contents of the collection is available in the online finding aid.
This collection is housed at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries in Los Angeles, California
Author/editor | Gay Spirituality | Buddhist | Catholic (Roman) | California | Leyland, Winston