by Chuck Colbert
Gay rights activist and LGBT publisher Tim Campbell died December 26, 2015, at a hospice in Houston, Texas, at the age of 76, from esophageal cancer.
Campbell was perhaps best known as the publisher of the GLC Voice newspaper in Minneapolis, which was published from 1979 to 1992. During that period, he was the go-to person in Minneapolis for the media whenever they needed a quick quote on a gay-related event.
Because Campbell was also known for a number of gay rights street theater-style protests over the years, it chagrined some in the community when he became their “voice.” Campbell often remarked that he made a terrible mistake when he named his paper the GLC Voice.
The U.S. Army pushed Campbell out of the closet in 1962 when he was called to register for the draft. He checked the box for people who had “homosexual tendencies,” even though he had never yet acted on them. For years, Campbell had to list “1Y” as his draft status on every application for employment he filled out. (The Vietnam War era code meant that he was only fit to serve in the military in the case of a national emergency.) This had a chilling effect on his pursuit of gainful employment, so he worked in department stores and waited tables.
Campbell was asked by FREE, a University of Minnesota gay and lesbian group, to be their spokesperson with the press at a rally for equal employment for gays and lesbians. That march passed from the university campus downtown to the offices of Northwestern Bell Telephone Company in the spring of 1974. From then forward, the local press kept his phone number handy.
Campbell himself often said his most important contribution to the national drive for gay rights was some energy he put, during 1974 and 1975, into convincing the Advocate magazine, the Minneapolis and St. Paul newspapers, the Washington Post, Dear Abby, and the New York Times to direct their stylesheets to use “gay,” “gay and lesbian” or “lesbian and gay” instead of “homosexual.”
Going sober in 1973, Campbell was also very involved in helping gays, lesbians and others to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. He was the founding chair of the Lambda Sobriety Center in Minneapolis in 1981.
Campbell received his Masters in French Literature from the University of Texas in 1969. He studied in Tours, France, and was theoretically working on his doctoral dissertation while teaching at the University of Minnesota, Morris Campus, from 1970 through 1972. Just last year, Campbell finally wrote up a lot of his studies about Proust and posted them on a blog called ProustByCampbell.blogspot.com.
From 1973 to 1974, Campbell joined with Jack Baker and Mike McConnell in conducting accredited seminars in sensitivity training on gay issues for students in the Education Department. He conducted similar seminars for police officers and other professionals, including chemical dependency counselors, over the next few years. Campbell, Baker and McConnell encouraged each other in the belief that they could “change the way people see gays” by working to do so. That was the purpose of Baker and McConnell’s same-sex marriage, the first of its kind in the U.S., in May 1980.
Campbell partnered with Bruce Brockway too start the Positively Gay newspaper, which became the GLC Voice in 1979. Campbell picked the name GLC Voice the night before press time. He and Brockway enumerated that issue Volume I, Issue 7. They put both logos on the top of page one: GLC Voice / Positively Gay.
Campbell chose the name “GLC Voice” hoping it would suggest The Village Voice. In his mind, the letters G-L-C stood for gays, lesbians and civilisados (Spanish for civilized people). Most issues of the newspaper carried the motto “A Twin Cities newspaper for gays, lesbians and civilized others.”
The GLC Voice hit the stands once a month the first year. In 1981, it started coming out twice monthly. The press run was 15,000 per issue, except when there was not enough advertising to pay the print bill.
The GLC Voice took advantage of technological advances in the 1980s that made producing the newspaper less expensive. But Campbell never paid himself more than $1,000 per month.
(Material from an obituary, written by Campbell before his death, and the GLC Voice blog was used in this reporting. In that obituary, Campbell asked that in lieu of flowers or other memorials, people so moved are encouraged to engage in random acts of kindness, generosity or courage.)