The LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame was established in 2005, recognizing seven journalists for their commitment, courage and dedication to LGBT issues in the media. Since then, NLGJA has honored a total of 21 journalists in the LGBT community. This year we honor two more exceptionally talented leaders: Jill Johnston and Randy Wicker.
Jill Johnston was born in London, England on May 17, 1929, and was raised in Little Neck, New York. She attended college in Massachusetts and Minnesota, then earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina. In 1958, she married Richard John Lanham, whom she divorced in 1964; she married Ingrid Nyeboe in Denmark in 1993, and in Connecticut in 2009. Johnston was named dance critic by The Village Voice in 1959. At first her reviews were traditional in form and content, even after the postmodern dance movement started in 1962. As the 1960s went along, Johnston’s writing experimented with what she called a “fractured dada style.” She continued at the Voice until 1981, while also writing for Art News. Starting in the 1980s, Johnston wrote for The New York Times Book Review and Art in America. Her journalism was republished in five anthologies, the first one being Marmalade Me, in 1971. But Johnston is best known, and most influential, with her book, Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution, published in 1973. Kate Millett called it “the most important book to come out of the women’s movement.” It advocated a lesbian separatist movement, and for decades she was at the center of numerous important debates in both lesbian and feminist movements. Johnston died Sept. 18, 2010.
Charles Gervin Hayden Jr., who in 1967 legally changed his name to his then-pseudonym Randolfe Hayden Wicker, was born February 3, 1938, in Plainfield, New Jersey. He discovered the homophile movement as a University of Texas at Austin undergraduate, and he spent the summer of 1958 working for the Mattachine Society’s New York City chapter. Wicker convinced the Society to start publicizing its events, making Wicker the U.S. LGBT movement’s first public relations practitioner. At UTA, he briefly also directed Wicker Research Studies, modeled after Daughters of Bilitis, to lead homophile movements in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. After graduation, Wicker returned to New York City, starting the Homosexual League of New York to distance himself from the Mattachine Society, and participating in a groundbreaking 90-minute broadcast about gay people on WBAI radio in July 1962. It also is believed that on January 31, 1964, Wicker was the first openly gay person on East Coast television through his appearance on “The Les Crane Show.” Also that year, he and others picketed New York’s Whitehall Street Induction Center because gay men’s draft records were not being kept confidential; it is believed to be the first U.S. gay rights demonstration. In 1972, he and Kay Lahusen (under the name Kay Tobin) co-authored The Gay Crusaders. Wicker joined the Gay Activists Alliance, which focused only on gay issues (unlike the larger Gay Liberation Front), and he covered GAA events for The Advocate and other gay magazines. Since 2009, he has been active in the Radical Faerie communities in Tennessee and New York.
Inductees will be honored at the UNITY 2012 Convention NLGJA Awards Reception, August 3, 2012 in Las Vegas. For more information on the convention, visit nlgja.org/unity/.