ONE Magazine. October 1954. Pages 4, 5 & 6.
Examples of mailed matter which has been declared obscene, and the senders prosecuted criminally, are: a letter to a married woman, proposing a meeting for purposes of intercourse; a letter, in itself free from obscene language, but offering to sell obscene pictures; and a letter from one man to another, suggesting a meeting for homosexual acts.
This is my favorite piece in this issue because it illustrates the legal and material limitations that dictate the form of ONE Magazine. Page six lists everything their counsel believes is off-limits:
(1) Lonely hearts ads, seeking pen pals or meetings.
(2) “Cheesecake” art or photos. To readers who ask, “But how about all the girlie magazines?” I can only reply that in our society, visual stimulation of man by woman is tolerated to a far greater extent than attempted visual stimulation of man by man, for what is in law a criminal purpose.
(3) Descriptions of sexual acts, or the preliminaries thereto. Again here, what is permissible in heterosexual literature is not permissible in ONE’s context.
(4) Descriptions of experiences which become too explicit. I.e., permissible: “John was my friend for a year.” Not permissible: “That night we made mad love.”
(5) Descriptions of homosexuality as a practice which the author encourages in others, or waxes too enthusiastic about.
(6) Fiction with too much physical contact between characters. I.e., characters cannot rub knees, feel thighs, hold hands, soap backs, or undress before one another. (All examples taken from recent contributions).
This is only a partial list; the only real standards are the taste, discretion, and judgment of the individual editors.
Note also that these rules are relaxed somewhat in work dealing with homosexuality among women. Hence, the greater freedom of ONE’s February All-Woman Issue. This is merely a reflection of society’s attitudes in general, based on no particular logic.
So while later publications were able to subsidize their work and serve as connection hubs for their readers with personal ad sections, ONE had to make do with donations, subscriptions, and “corporation memberships,” since the kinds of commercial advertising they could accept were also limited:
ONE’S revenues are sometimes limited by having to refuse to take certain advertising, which in the context in which ONE operates would prove dangerous.
This directly contributed to ONE Mag’s financial difficulties, which prevented the publication of an August or September 1954 issue of ONE Magazine.