by Joe Siegel
San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter is celebrating its 50th anniversary in this month.
To mark the milestone, the paper has published a special 50th anniversary issue, with articles looking back at some areas of coverage, including arts, HIV/AIDS, sports, and news.
“I solicited memories from readers and will publish those,” said Cynthia Laird, news editor at the Bay Area Reporter (B.A.R.). “We’re also had an online panel discussion on April 2 featuring various people who have known the paper for many years, either through writing for it, being covered in it, or being a reader.”
Laird discussed the most memorable stories published in the last 50 years: “Our ‘No obits’ cover from August 1998 still gets mentioned the most, I would say,” noting the first issue of the B.A.R. since the start of the AIDS epidemic with no obituaries.
“Starting with then-Mayor Gavin Newsom’s ‘Winter of Love’ in February 2004, the paper covered many facets of the fight for same-sex marriage, often talking to couples directly impacted. We covered the court fights, federal trial, and the many ups and downs that culminated with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide,” Laird added. “Other big stories over the years would be racial discrimination at gay bars in the Castro, the rise of LGBTQ politicians — and what that means for queers — and examining LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS nonprofits, the services they provide and the money they get.”
The B.A.R. also revived its YouTube channel in preparation for the anniversary. The B.A.R.’s channel currently consists of playlists relating to the newspaper, but will soon include original content. Through the next year, the publication’s staff and writers, as well as guests, will host and participate in monthly chats celebrating the newspaper’s half-century.
Laird is also celebrating her own time at The B.A.R.: “This May will mark my 25th year at the paper. I started just after that milestone anniversary. I’ve seen a lot, to be sure, and one of the best things has been how LGBTQ people have continued to come out and assert their right to be themselves, unapologetically.”
“Whether it be Black trans women or people living with HIV/AIDS or the rest of our wonderful rainbow family, I think the paper has given story subjects a way to express themselves and help build a stronger LGBTQ community,” Laird added. “In turn, their stories have inspired readers, angered them, and many times spurred them to action to create a more just San Francisco Bay Area.”