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Gay 45


Gay 45, the first gay Romanian magazine, appeared in April 1993. It was published by a small team, with a print run of only a few thousand copies while mainstream newspapers had hundreds of thousands. The magazine was initially refused by a printing house, and it survived only two issues, as it was underfunded and cracked down upon by the authorities. The magazine was largely distributed through kiosks or by hand through Bucharest. and tried to coagulate a gay identity discourse, with strong political accents. The magazine critically addressed gay identity, the situation of imprisoned gays, Article 200 of the Romanian Penal Code, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The magazine also included translated articles about homosexuality for the local audience. Additionally, in the second issue of Gay 45, one could find anonymous dating ads, through which queer people expressed which kind of person and relationship they were looking for.

Gay 45 magazine, Issue 2, 1993, Bucharest, Romania

The publication presented itself as a safe space for homosexuals to feel understood as its main aim was to change mentality. The contributions to the magazine considered queer people as human beings above anything else. One reader wrote back to Gay 45: “I’m writing to you in tears of joy and hope because I never thought it was possible for such a magazine to be published that accurately reflects gay problems and fights for their rights.”

The availability of Gay 45, however, was not uniform all over Romania. Publications of this kind are very difficult to spread, especially in small cities such as Turda, near Cluj. People mostly were able to find issues of Gay 45 when visiting Bucharest. In the nineties, various important cleavages still existed in Romania, namely class, urban/rural, and gender. The hostile environment that made acquiring these publications contentious further complicated the acquisition of various queer materials.

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Announcement in Gay 45 about the American-Romanian Gay Solidarity Pen Pal Club

The correspondence between gay queer people within Romania or between Romanians and foreigners was made possible through the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission which helped Romanian nonconforming individuals meet one another. In the Romanian context of the nineties, queer people attempted to break their sense of isolation through the correspondence that Adrian Newell Păun managed from San Francisco or through the materials they were requesting from him.

The correspondence that Adrian Newell Paun kept with queer individuals in Romania makes up the bulk of his private LGBTQ+ archives, the only one of its kind in Romania. The archives in themselves and the correspondence provides us with an invaluable perspective into the lives of gay men and lesbians in the nineties, which would not have been possible to such an extent had these letters been writing within Romania—due to the enduring fear and suspicion of being outed.