Veteran journalist Kay Longcope moved to Austin in 1992 and noticed that there was no serious local newspaper focusing on the gay community. So she started her own.
Longcope, whose Texas Triangle won lots of praise for its coverage of political and social issues facing homosexuals, died Thursday after battling pancreatic cancer for more than a year. She was 69.
"I just don't know how to convey to you what an amazing person she was," said Barbara Wohlgemuth, Longcope's partner for 17 years.
Longcope grew up with two brothers in Brownwood, about 150 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
She constantly read as a child, and was a skilled writer all her life, said twin brother Charles Longcope Jr.
As a student at South Ward Elementary, Longcope published her first newspaper using a mimeograph machine in the teacher workroom.
"She knew by the time she was in elementary school that she wanted to be a journalist," her brother said.
She later worked on her high school newspaper and wrote for The Daily Texan while attending the University of Texas.
She spent 10 years after college doing publicity work for the United Council of Churches in New York. Hired by The Boston Globe in the early 1970s, she covered civil rights issues and eventually wrote about gay and lesbian issues, Wohlgemuth said.
She retired from the Globe after 22 years, Wohlgemuth said.
The Texas Triangle first published in October 1992 as a weekly, with Longcope as editor and publisher, Wohlgemuth as business manager, a graphic designer and two volunteer writers. Three weeks after it first was printed, the weekly went statewide, Wohlgemuth said.
Most gay-oriented newspapers at the time contained sexually explicit content, she said. Not The Texas Triangle.
Instead, it focused on profiles and seriously explored issues such as gay marriage and gays in the military. Longcope hoped the paper would help gay people identify with their community and inspire a feeling of pride among them, Wohlgemuth said.
"People just loved it because it was just different from any other gay paper," Wohlgemuth said. "It was a paper they could show their parents or leave on their coffee table."
The paper also came at a dynamic time in the gay community, said longtime friend Eugene Sepulveda, a lecturer in business at the University of Texas. The gay community was starting to try to flex its political muscle for certain rights.
"Kay and Barbara gave us a forum," Sepulveda said.
Longcope sold the paper in 1996, but by then she and her paper had already made their mark.
"She really helped a lot of us stand taller and be proud of who we are," Sepulveda said.
Published by Austin American-Statesman on Mar. 29, 2007.