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He checked his by-line count in the News computer system and found that of 500 bylines he has had at the paper, 25 of the stories have contained the word “gay.” “The negative reaction on the part of readers monthly is from the fact that these stories are in the paper,” Trejo said. “For a long time our paper well it is conservative but it was even more conservative but that has started to change. It has changed considerably in the last five or 10 years, and some of the readers are uneasy with that change.” Five years ago, a job like Trejo’s was unthinkable. Being openly gay was and at many news organizations still is considered an impediment to success. The hundreds and there are hundreds of lesbians and gay men who work for the six major Texas dailies watched in horror in 1991 when Houston Post columnist Juan Palomo, a former Washington press corps reporter, was fired and his column censored over the issue of whether he could come out in print. It was a black day for Texas journalism. It told us that to succeed we had to hide, we had to lie, and worst of all, we had to reserve at least part of our creative energy for self preservation rather than spend it on our work. Consider the irony: an industry dedicated to truth where accuracy and credibility are held above all else telling its front-line people they have to lie about or at least deny a part of themselves .so crucial to their being. No more. Television remains a celluloid closet, but at most of the state’s major dailies, and at a handful of small and medium-size papers such as the Big Spring Herald and Beaumont Enterprise those days are gone, or at least ending. They are ending, too, at some of the state’s most conservative institutions. Like the Dallas Morning News. A Gay & Lesbian Weekly BY LOUIS DUBOSE NE YEAR ago Kay Longcope, who had just been “bought out” after 22 years at the Boston Globe , was working her way through the leadership of Austin’s lesbian and gay community, trying to describe the newspaper she and her companion, Barbara Wohlgemuth, envisioned. “I wanted to publish a newspaper that would incorporate every aspect of gay and lesbian life and would also reach gay-friendly readers across the state. A newspaper of record for gay and lesbian communities in Texas,” Longcope said. But no one seemed to quite understand what she and Wohlgemuth envisioned. Most people she talked to, Longcope said, envisioned a newsletter and didn’t think a newspaper could be supported by the lesbian and gay communities. Four months later, on October 15, the first issue of the Texas Triangle was printed on the presses of the Austin American -Statesman. Under the Triangle’s flag was a subhead identifying it as “The Lesbian and Gay News Weekly of Austin.” The 30-page tabloid included 22 ads, most from non-profit advocacy organizations from the gay community or from gay businesses. A two-thirds-page ad from Whole Foods must have been the single largest source of revenue, beyond the not-too-deep pockets of Longcope and Wohlgemuth, the publisher/ editor and business manager. Two of the front-page stories, both about the Karen Umminger-Sara Strandtman wedding that brought out the best and worst of Austin and finally made it to the Phil Donahue show, were written by Longcope. The Triangle wasn’t a coming-out, it was a coming together of the gay and lesbian community, which provided it with the sort of talent rarely available in small start-up ventures like Longcope and Wohlgemuth were 24 MAY 21, 1993 attempting. Todd Camp of the Fort Worth Star -Telegram was the Triangle’s editorial columnist and Joe Cutbirth of the StarTelegram’ s capitol bureau one of its contributing writers. The editorial staff included Rick Antoine, who had won a Pulitzer Prize at the Ft. Wayne News/Sentinel in Indiana and former Newsweek reporter Zsa Zsa Gershick. Columnist Ellen Hobbs, whose first lead offered gays and lesbian voters one choice in the election “Vote Democrat” had written a column for Texas A&M’ s daily Battalion. OL. 1 NO 1 included a two-page photo spread featuring an Austin gay pride event, four wire service stories, a classified page that solicited more journalists to write for the Triangle, a calendar, and, perhaps as a measure of reassurance, a preview of the following week’s issue. It also included some 20 staff-written stories, most of which were very long. “In May, we had given ourselves four months to get our first issue out,” Longcope said. At 10,000 copies for free bookstore and restaurant distribution, they had met their deadline. Thirty issues later, the page count is down by two, ads are up from an initial 15 percent to 50 percent, which means fewer and tighter stories, the Triangle circulates in 22 Texas cities and towns, and “The Lesbian and Gay of Weekly of Austin” has evolved through “The Lesbian and Gay Weekly from Austin” into “The Lesbian and Gay Weekly.”Ads are more diverse but gay and lesbian businesses still fill much of the ad space. \(The Triangle first time, Longcope said, the Triangle has made a profit. What was the secret? According to Longcope, the Triangle is succeeding because it is fulfilling a need in the community. “The lesbian/gay community has matured,” Longcope said. “And with that maturity it has become a lot more outward looking. For so many years, the gay and lesbian presence has been very inward looking and most of the gay and lesbian press is still inward directed.”Longcope’s editing is an important part of the mix, also, and tends toward the very mainstream, giving the paper an almost gray quality compared to, say, the livelier but not-so-tightly-edited Austin Chronicle. Longcope contends that Texas is now a far better place for gays and lesbians. After studying journalism at the University of Texas, Longcope left Texas for New York. “I never thought I’d come back here. I had my job at the Globe and my house at the Cape. But then Ann Richards was elected Governor. I don’t think I could have moved back to this state if she were not Governor. … Her election shows how a place can change over time. Voters’ perception of women has changed.” Longcope, now 54, who was born in Midland and graduated from high school in Brownwood. She said she recognizes that change has come far slower to small-town and rural Texas. She is convinced that the Triangle can be an agent of change there, and a means of informing gay and lesbian teens who face considerable isolation in rural communities, that they are neither alone nor abnormal. “Our circulation is up to 15,000 and we are in places like Tyler, the Valley, Waco, Temple, Lubbock, Amarillo, El Paso,” she said. Asked for a critique of the paper he prints, American -Statesman publisher Roger Kintzel admitted he hasn’t read it. Asked what he thought about the Triangle’s 50 percent-plus ad hole, Kintzel’ s response suggested he might take a look. “Fifty percent in six months. That’s fast. That’s exceptional.”