You can expect fair and balanced coverage of LGBTQ issues in The New York Times today, but that wasn’t always the case. The paper wouldn’t even print the the word “gay” till 1987 — its style was to use “homosexual,” and you all know how I feel about that.
The prohibition against the word “gay” ended when Executive Editor Abe Rosenthal resigned. He was a homophobe who stifled LGBTQ people in the newsroom and LGBTQ coverage in the paper.
Two excerpts from “Abe Rosenthal’s Reign of Homophobia at The New York Times,” an essay by Larry Gross for Truthdig:
Abe Rosenthal’s homophobia was felt at the Times in two ways: It ensured that lesbian and gay reporters stayed firmly in the closet, and that the word “gay” was not used in the paper to describe gay people.Larry Gross
As the AIDS epidemic began to emerge, the silence of the media in general, and of The New York Times in particular, contributed to the magnitude of the unfolding tragedy. Although the death toll mounted in the early 1980s, the Times maintained a disdainful distance. As gay journalist Michelangelo Signorile put it, “Rosenthal, who attacks anti-Semitism in the media, never realized that the way he was treating the AIDS epidemic wasn’t much different from the way that news organizations treated the Holocaust early on.”Larry Gross
Today, the Times doesn’t shy away from using the word “gay” — or from covering LGBTQ issues.