ONE, Inc.

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Cover of One magazine, April–May 1956

One, Inc., or One Incorporated, was one of the first gay rights organizations in the United States, founded in 1952.[1]


The idea for an organization dedicated to homosexuals emerged from a Mattachine Society discussion meeting held on October 15, 1952. ONE Inc.'s Articles of Incorporation were signed by Antonio "Tony" Reyes, Martin Block, and Dale Jennings on November 15, 1952.[2] Other founders were Merton Bird, W. Dorr Legg, Don Slater, Chuck Rowland, and Harry Hay, “all of whom sought to unify homosexuals into social action.”[1] Jennings and Rowland were also Mattachine Society founders. The name was derived from an aphorism of Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle: "A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one."[3] The name was also a nod to referring to a gay person as "one of us."[4] ONE was the first LGBT organization in the United States to have its own office, and as such its offices acted as a prototype LGBT community center.

One, Inc. readily admitted women, including—with their pseudonyms—Joan Corbin (as Eve Elloree), Irma Wolf (as Ann Carrl Reid), Stella Rush (as Sten Russell), Helen Sandoz (as Helen Sanders), and Betty Perdue (as Geraldine Jackson). They were vital to its early success. ONE and Mattachine in turn provided vital help to the Daughters of Bilitis in the launching of their newsletter The Ladder in 1956. The Daughters of Bilitis was the counterpart lesbian organization to the Mattachine Society, and the organizations worked together on some campaigns and ran lecture series. Bilitis came under attack in the early 1970s for "siding" with Mattachine and ONE, rather than with the new separatist feminists.[citation needed]

ONE magazine[edit]

In January 1953 One, Inc. began publishing a monthly magazine called One, the first U.S. pro-gay publication,[5] which it sold openly on the streets of Los Angeles for 25 cents. In October 1954, the U.S. Post Office Department declared the magazine "obscene" and refused to deliver it. ONE, Inc. brought a lawsuit in federal court, which it won in 1958, when the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the lower court ruling in One, Inc. v. Olesen based on its recent landmark First Amendment case, Roth v. United States.[6] The magazine ceased publication in December 1969.[5]

Season 4, episode 5 of the podcast Making Gay History is about W. Dorr Legg, Jim Kepner, and Martin Block, all of whom worked for the magazine.[7]

ONE Institute of Homophile Studies[edit]

In 1956, ONE established the ONE Institute of Homophile Studies which, in addition to organizing classes and annual conferences, also published the ONE Institute Quarterly, a journal dedicated to the academic exploration of homosexuality.[8]

Later history[edit]

In 1965, One separated over irreconcilable differences between ONE's business manager Dorr Legg and One magazine editor Don Slater. After a two-year court battle, Dorr Legg's faction retained the name "ONE, Inc." and Don Slater's faction retained most of the corporate library and archives. In 1968, Slater's group became the Homosexual Information Center[9] or HIC, a non-profit corporation that continues to function.

In 1996, One, Inc. merged with ISHR, the Institute for the Study of Human Resources, a non-profit organization created by transgender philanthropist Reed Erickson, with ISHR being the surviving organization and ONE being the merging corporation. In 2005, the HIC donated many of its historic materials, including most of ONE Incorporated's Blanche M. Baker Memorial Library, to the Vern and Bonnie Bullough Collection on Sex and Gender, a special collection within the University Library at California State University, Northridge.[10] In October 2010, ONE transferred its archives to the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California for preservation. ONE, Inc. continues to exist to organize exhibits and gather new material.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Guide to the Homosexual Information Center Subject Files Collection, 1933-2005". Archived from the original on 2019-06-26. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  2. ^ Retter, Yolanda. "Latina and Latino LGBTQ Organizations and Periodicals". Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered History in America. Ed. Marc Stein. Vol. 2. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004. 144–148. Gale Virtual Reference Library. March 16, 2013.
  3. ^ David K. Johnson: The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, University of Chicago Press, 2004, ISBN 9780226404813, p. 34
  4. ^ Great events from history : Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender events, 1848–2006. Faderman, Lillian. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press. 2007. p. 114. ISBN 9781587652639. OCLC 71241916.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ a b George Haggerty (November 5, 2013). Encyclopedia of Gay Histories and Cultures. Taylor & Francis. p. 648. ISBN 978-1-135-58513-6. Archived from the original on June 27, 2019. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  6. ^ One, Inc. v. Olesen, 335 U.S. 371 (1958), reversing the Ninth Circuit's decision per curiam, citing Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476; full-text of opinion Archived 2020-04-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Legg, Block, and Kepner". Archived from the original on 2021-04-27. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  8. ^ Various Authors (2011). Cruising the Archive. Los Angeles: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-615-49724-2.
  9. ^ Homosexual Information Center Archived January 11, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Vern and Bonnie Bullough Collection on Sex and Gender Archived July 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Gay archives, said to be nation's largest, to be given to USC". Los Angeles Times. October 7, 2010. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]