The Johnson Publishing Company

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John Johnson launched Ebony Magazine in 1945, a magazine that reached to all segments of the black population, but its readership was mainly middle-class. Most of the stories relating to same sex sexuality in Ebony Magazine focused on Drag Balls, and were mostly laudatory. In March 1948, Ebony wrote of the Drag Balls:

The men who don silks, satins and laces for the yearly masquerades are as style-conscious as the women of a social club planning an annual charity affair or a society dowager selecting a debutante gown for her favorite daughter. Many of the men, some of whom are dress designers by profession, spend months and hundreds of dollars readying wardrobes for the one-night appearances before the public.[1]

Ebony Magazine March 1948 - Article on Female Impersonators

As the civil rights movement became more popular in the 1950s, a campaign to regulate the sexuality of the working class was launched with the publication in Ebony of an article by Adam Clayton Powell Jr, U.S. Congressman.

Nine months after Powell’s article, Ebony shifted his views on homosexuality with an article on homosexuality on Gladys Bentley. This article, titled “I am woman again,” read that “like a great number of lost souls, she inhabited the half shadow no-man’s land which exists between the boundaries of the two sexes, she was a sad and lonely person and that she had found the love of real man.”

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From that moment on, Ebony Magazine and Jet Magazine replaced their articles on the Drag Balls with a "Family" section. John Johnson recalled that his decision to "play down sensationalism and sex" was compelled by the mergence of the new race consciousness. "The world was changing, and people wanted Ebony to be more serious,' he remembered. "They wanted us to more away from the sensationalism that characterized some of our early articles."[2]

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