Oral history interview with Lynne Brown, 1955 -

Coverage

1974- 2014

Brown focuses on her business career at the Washington Blade newspaper, and begins with a description of her ancestral ties to North America's early European settlers. She came out as a lesbian in 1974 at Syracuse University, where she found strong acceptance partly rooted in the period's feminist politics. Brown moved to DC in 1977 in search of a local lesbian community she had started to discover through a college girlfriend and the publication "off our backs." She joined a car dealership and met the local activist Mary-Helen Mautner as a customer; Mautner introduced the young saleswoman to lesbian gathering places including the Owl and Tortoise, the Bachelor's Mill and Phase 1, and to several feminist theorists behind the journal,"Quest: A Feminist Quarterly." Brown became involved with groups that included the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington, the DC Area Feminist Chorus (later renamed Bread and Roses), and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, where she served as treasurer on the board of directors. The Blade hired Brown for an advertising sales role in 1984, after she had returned to DC from a costly one-year stay in San Diego with another girlfriend. Shannon Rodes, the sales manager who recruited Brown, soon resigned from her position so the women could begin a relationship that remains ongoing.

Brown discusses the Blade office's culture; the classified section's critical role in connecting readers over the 1980s and 1990s; and the struggle to sustain revenue as Craigslist and social media applications gained prominence. She touches intermittently on subjects that include local Pride celebrations in the 1980s; the prominent gay nightclub Tracks; ambivalence over her business career as an avowed critic of capitalist institutions; and business disruptions linked to the 2001 anthrax mailings. The firm Window Media purchased the Blade from the newspaper's employees in May 2001, and Brown details an intensive staff and community campaign to save the newspaper after the company moved to halt its publication in November 2009. They published as the "D.C. Agenda" until April 2010, when staff members retook ownership of the "Blade" brand. She concludes by considering the future of newspapers and of "the gay community," and by describing efforts to digitize the Blade's sizable archive.

Interviewer

Diane Barnes

Location

Washington, DC

Transcription

No, not yet available.

Original Format

Yes, recording available.

Citation

“Oral history interview with Lynne Brown, 1955 -,” Rainbow History Project Digital Collections, accessed May 30, 2024, https://archives.rainbowhistory.org/items/show/1378.

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