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About Jeanne C. Barney

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A Short Biography of Jeanne C. Barney

Jeanne C. Barney was a straight woman who played a significant role in the world of gay publishing in the 1970s --- specifically gay male leather. She was on the original staff of The Advocate with her column “Smoke from Jeanne’s Lamp.” In 1975, publisher John Embry hired her as the founding editor-in-chief of Drummer magazine, a publication that focused on gay male leather culture. Barney served as the editor for the magazine for the first eleven issues (June 1975 to December 1976.)

Barney and Embry had different visions for the new magazine. She wrote to Jack Fritcher that He wanted a cash-cow stroke book; I wanted a literary stroke book because I thought people into leather were not without an intellectual dimension. Her intention was a gay leather S/M Evergreen Review.

In the beginning, Embry published his magazines in Los Angeles, CA. But police repressions of the homosexual community made his work difficult.

On April 10, 1976, the 100 officers and plain clothesmen of the Los Angeles Police Department raided a "Slave Auction" fundraiser being held at the Mark IV baths as a sponsored by Drummer magazine. The L.A.P.D. arrested forty participants --- thirty-nine men and one woman: Jeanne Barney. The policeman arresting her --- possibly confused at the presence of a woman at a gay male slave auction --- asked her whether she was a real woman. She replied Of course I’m a real woman; if I were a drag, I’d have bigger tits.

Despite the term "slave," the auction was entirely consensual. All participation was voluntary.

The police charged the participants with breaking a law enacted in 1899 banning “white slavery.” The following day a local newspaper printed an account of the raid under the headline "Police Free Gay ‘Slaves'."

After being freed on bail, Barney discovered that her house had been raided. In an interview with Jack Rinella she recalled I saw those cops had been in my house but you can’t believe how torn up it was. They had taken my dresser drawers and emptied them in the middle of the bedroom. They emptied the laundry hamper. They had taken stuff out of my medicine cabinet and it was thrown all over the bathroom. It was a terrible mess!

Most of the charges were eventually dismissed, but John Embry, Jeannie Barney, the auctioner, and the man working the door were charged with felonies. After two years of legal procedures all four pleade guilty and were be sentenced to community service.

in late 1976, a gay group, the Hawks of southern California, named Jeannie Barney the “Humanitarian of the Year.”

Barney resigned as Editor in Chief over a matter of more than thirteen thousand dollars in back pay.. John Embry was listed as Publisher for the first time in issue #12.

Embry relocated the magazine to San Francisco in 1976.

In 2007, the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, Reverend Troy Perry, said of her There were many heterosexuals who helped us in the beginning, but Jeanne Barney was the first to help in Los Angeles.

In 2008, Jeanne C. Barney received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pantheon of Leather Awards.

In 2015, Jeanne C. Barney was inducted into the Leather Hall of Fame.

Barney passed away in 2015 at the age of 91. She had asked that her obituary to read She succumbed after winning a long struggle with life.

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Main Sources Referenced

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Further Reading on Jeanne C. Barney and Drummer Magazine

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