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BLK Publishing

5903 S Corning Ave, Los Angeles, 90056
1988 1994

BLK was a monthly American newsmagazine which targeted African-American LGBT readers. Sub-titled "The National Black Lesbian and Gay Newsmagazine," with the motto "where the news is colored on purpose," BLK (always capitalized) took its name from the standard abbreviation used in U.S. personal ads for "black."

Published in Los Angeles, the magazine was distributed free to local black establishments frequented by lesbians and gay men, but distribution rapidly expanded to nearly all LGBT venues in Greater Los Angeles. Its early coverage of the local black LGBT scene soon enlarged to a nationwide and international focus, and eventually to national and Canadian distribution.

Alan Bell, an African-American graphic designer, had published Gaysweek (considered NYC's first mainstream weekly lesbian and gay newspaper) when he lived in New York City during the late 1970s. After moving back to Los Angeles, he founded a black gay man's safer-sex club called Black Jack. While publishing his eight-page newsletter for the members of Black Jack, he realized the dearth of reliable information in print about African-American LGBTs and about the HIV crisis. He decided to expand the newsletter, and BLK was born. 

Beginning as a 16-page black-and-white newsprint throwaway in 1988, it had grown to 40 pages with glossy color covers, paid circulation, and national product advertising by the time it ceased publication in mid-1994.

Although the first issue had a beefcake cover (a muscular black man clad only in the traditional Santa's hat and whiskers, shown with the magazine's coyly-placed logo), subsequent covers usually pictured a prominent African-American LGBT featured in the "BLK Interview" or photographically illustrated a theme of the month.

Among those interviewed were singer Patti LaBelle (August 1990); porn star Randy Cochran (March 1989); poet Audre Lorde (April 1989); Carl Bean, founder of the Minority AIDS Project and of the Unity Fellowship Church (July 1989), Black AIDS Institute founder Phill Wilson (October 1990); Amassi and BMX founder Cleo Manago (March 1990); documentary-maker Marlon Riggs (April 1990); and Marjorie Hill, CEO of Gay Men's Health Crisis (August 1990).