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Guide to the Aristide J. Laurent Collection, 1967-2010
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Biographical Information:
  • Administrative Information
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: Aristide J. Laurent Collection
    Dates: 1967-2010
    Identification: SC/AL
    Creator: Laurent, Aristide J., 1941-2011
    Physical Description: 7.30 linear feet
    Language of Materials: English
    Repository: Special Collections
    Abstract: Aristide Joseph "A.J." Laurent was a U.S. Airman, writer, publisher, printer, and pioneer activist for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communities. He clandestinely co-founded The Advocate—the oldest and largest LGBT publication in the United States—in the basement studios of ABC Television in 1967, two years prior to the infamous Stonewall Riots of NYC which marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement in America. Consisting primarily of clippings, photographs, correspondence, scrapbooks, and memorabilia, the Aristide J. Laurent Collection documents aspects of Laurent's personal life and advocacy involvement, and provides a unique perspective for considering the social and political history of the early LGBT rights movements.

    Biographical Information:

    Aristide Joseph "A.J." Laurent was born in Magnolia Springs, Alabama on September 15, 1941 to farm hand Duval "Buck" Laurent and Elizabeth "Betty" Weeks. He had one younger sister, Carol Elizabeth Weeks (1945-2010). After graduating from Weeks High School in 1960, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and served four years, first as a signals intelligence operator in Karamursel, Turkey and later as an instructor at the Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.
    Upon discharge in 1964, Laurent moved to Los Angeles, California and began living openly as a gay man. He took a job with the American Broadcasting Company where he worked from 1964-1967 producing scripts for ABC Television. Laurent allegedly participated in the Compton's Cafeteria Riots during the summer of 1966 as well as the Black Cat Tavern Riots which occurred on New Year's Day 1967. Following these demonstrations he became involved with the Los Angeles organization PRIDE (Personal Rights in Defense and Education) which published a local newsletter documenting police violence and harassment against the LGBT community.
    In the basement print shop of ABC studios alongside Richard Mitch, Bill Rau, and Sam Allen, Laurent transformed PRIDE's newsletter into The Los Angeles Advocate , later known simply as The Advocate —the oldest and largest LGBT publication in the United States and the only pre-Stonewall publication of its kind still in existence today. Under the pseudonym "P. Nutz," Laurent penned the nightlife column, "Mariposas de la Noche" ("Butterfly of the Night").
    Laurent continued his work in publishing and printing until retirement in the 1990s and remained an active LGBT rights activist into the first decade of the twenty-first century. He participated in the 1976 charity "slave auction" at the Mark IV Bathhouse in Hollywood to benefit the Gay Community Services Center and was one of forty arrested by Los Angeles Police after a mistaken tip indicated that the event was an actual, illegal slave trade. In the 1980s Laurent joined the ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) movement to fight discrimination, inequality, and indifference to the AIDS crisis. In 1993 he attended the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation and visited the capitol again in 2000 for the Millennium March on Washington.
    On October 26, 2011 Aristide Laurent passed away after a fifteen year battle with prostate cancer. His work, efforts, and advocacy involvement can be considered the foundation for the modern LGBT equality movements in the United States.

    Administrative Information

    Processing Information:

    Christine Hertzel, 2015

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    The collection is open for research use.

    Preferred Citation:

    For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: Personal Materials, ca. 1975-2010
    Series II: LGBT Advocacy, 1967-2009
    Series III: Scrapbooks, ca. 1970-2000

    Scope and Contents

    The Aristide J. Laurent Collection documents aspects of Laurent's life in Los Angeles as a pioneer activist for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communities. His involvement precedes the infamous 1969 Stonewall Riots of New York City which traditionally mark the beginning of the LGBT liberation movement in America. The collection dates from 1967-2010 and is composed of three series: Personal Materials (circa 1975-2010), LGBT Advocacy (1967-2009), and Scrapbooks (circa 1970-2000). Many items in the collection are sexually explicit in nature.
    Series I, Personal Materials, documents Laurent's personal life in Los Angeles. It consists primarily of calendars, clippings, correspondence, collected essays and personal writings, party announcements and fliers, and photographs. The files are arranged alphabetically by subject and arranged chronologically within.
    Series II, LGBT Advocacy, highlights aspects of Laurent's involvement in the LGBT rights movements. It consists primarily of event programs and fliers, news clippings, and photographs. Of particular note is a copy of the 1976 arrest report from the charity slave auction at Hollywood's Mark IV Bathhouse as well as a radio transcription featuring the event and police action. The files are arranged alphabetically by subject and arranged chronologically within.
    Series III, Scrapbooks, consists of five scrapbooks compiled by Laurent. Three scrapbooks are comprised of magazine clippings, the bulk of which are from the 1970s. Two scrapbooks highlight his travels: one documents a 1999 trip to Florida and Alabama where he attended pride events and visited with family, and the second documents a 2000 trip to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia where he attended the Millennium March on Washington and Pride Fest America. The series is arranged alphabetically by subject.