Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2021




This article introduces the concept of “distribution struggle”—the panoply of cultural and industrial conflicts that must be traced and accounted for in distribution histories—to sequence a primary-sourced media history of J. Brian’s gay media enterprises. In tracing this history, primary sources are surprisingly accessible, and provide new insights into J. Brian’s industrial operations. By triangulating archival records with secondary accounts, this article provides a more nuanced cultural and industrial portrait of J. Brian. It argues that media industry historiography must frame historical narratives by accounting for the cultural and industrial struggles that culminated in the available archival sources, in this case, an accounting for the fact that the public record traces of J. Brian exist because of anti-gay interventions in gay media distribution.

Original Publication Information

“Distribution Struggle: Assembling a Media History of J. Brian’s Enterprises with Court Proceedings and Public Records.” Spectator 41, no. 2 Special Issue, Opening the Vault: Media Industry Studies and its Archives (Fall 2021): 40–52. [University of Southern California]