In 1969 — the same year Washington’s first gay civil rights organizers the Mattachine Society launched its “Gay is Good” campaign — journalists began distributing a one-page mimeograph in bars around town: The Washington Blade.

(High Heel Race on 17th Street, 1988. Photo courtesy of The Washington Blade)

Over the next four decades, the publication’s journey would mirror the bumpy-but-forward-motion movement its reporters covered in Washington. Blade journalists covered LGBT discrimination, hate crimes, the AIDS epidemic and the slow crawl of civil rights. Then there was an abrupt closing due to financial woes in 2009, and the reopening just seven months later.

Along the way, photographers caught this growing piece of Washington culture frame by frame.

As was the case for most other publications hoping to compete in the digital realm, the next step for the Blade was digitize its photo archive — and to offer those prints for sale. The Washington Blade will unveil the first phase Thursday night at 6 p.m at Cobalt, 1639 R St. NW.

( ACT-UP protest against the NIH, 1990 (Courtesy of The Washington Blade) )

(D.C. Black Gay Men and Women Community Conference, 1983 (Courtesy of The Washington Blade) )