History, herstory, their story, making a way for every story

Sam Martino
Out In Jersey magazine editor Sam Martino

Editor’s Letter

Jason Mraz is featured on the cover of the August/September Summer issue of Out In Jersey magazine
Jason Mraz is featured on the cover of the August/September 2023 Summer issue of Out In Jersey magazine.

We have been fighting for our rights ever since I can remember. We fought so much that we made room for everyone who we had no idea was coming our way, like our non-binary queers. We have a long and storied past that cannot be erased and cannot be denied. With the Supreme Court now overturning many rights, as activists we must stay awake, aware, and alive.

Speaking of activists, in the latest issue of Out In Jersey magazine we feature fighters who know we cannot rest on our asses. Felipe Rose of the Village People knows what we went through in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He knows that during the AIDS crisis, we had a President who refused to say the word AIDS. And how our gay men were persecuted and harassed while on their deathbeds. Felipe continues to be an avid advocate for our community and has no plans of slowing down.

We have been on the chopping block of the Supreme Court for years. But that didn’t stop us before, and it’s not going to stop us now. Just ask anyone in this issue such as comedian transwoman Julia Scotti, or writer Irene Monroe, who is an ordained minister and motivational speaker who speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible.

And there is Frank Mahood, who in 1972 was one of the founding members of Gay People Princeton. In Princeton, a few activists decided it was time to have a gay place in the university town and named it Gay Alliance of Princeton, a university organization. And for more than three decades they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. That is what advocacy looks like.

Our history is an important part of who are. We cannot let anyone erase our lineage. Yes, Stonewall is an incredible part of our history, but that’s not where it started.

So who was the first gay person in history? “there’s no one answer to this question, as people who had same-sex relations and those who identified as a kind of ‘third sex’ have existed throughout history. Examples of this can be found in ancient Greek and Indian literature — from the Sacred Band of Thebes, a military unit that consisted of pairs of male lovers, to the sexually fluid Mughals, a noble class from Central Asia.

We really don’t know where it all started. I have a feeling we have been here since the beginning of time. It doesn’t really matter, but what matters is, we have been here forever, and we have no plans on being canceled.

Where do we go from here? We can start by volunteering. There are many queer organizations that can use our help. Garden State Equality is a great place to start. They state that volunteers are the backbone of Garden State Equality’s grassroots work! Want to help out?

Complete the volunteer form on their website.


Sam Martino
Maria Sammartino (aka Sam Martino), is a writer and artist for over 15 years. Maria started at Out In Jersey as the news editor in 2009, and shortly thereafter became the Editor-In-Chief. She has been published in the Philadelphia Gay News, The International Journal of MS Care, and others. Maria goes by Sam Martino because she believes that women are never given a fair shot - and doesn’t want her art or her writing to be judged based on her sex, but on the merit of the work.