Robert F. Craig, longtime gay political activist and publisher of the West Hollywood-based weekly Frontiers, died Friday at Midway Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications from AIDS. He was 65.
Craig was a businessman who had been active in gay affairs when he helped found Frontiers in 1982 with Greg Carmack and Jerry Hyde. Craig eventually became the sole owner, expanding the publication from a 16-page tabloid to a 168-page magazine that now has a circulation of more than 86,000 in Southern California, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday May 5, 2000 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Metro Desk 2 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction
Craig obituary--In Wednesday's Times, the obituary of Robert F. Craig, a gay activist and publisher of the weekly paper Frontiers, listed an incorrect address for memorial donations. Any such contributions should be addressed to the Robert F. Craig Jr. Fund for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights, c/o Loquvam & Robertson, 9000 Sunset Blvd. Suite 800, Los Angeles 90069. Craig died April 28 in Los Angeles.
From its inception Craig encouraged the magazine to tackle controversial subjects. Within its first year of publication, Frontiers reprinted a provocative article by New York playwright Larry Kramer that urged the gay community to acknowledge the AIDS threat. Called "1,112 and Counting," the piece and subsequent articles outraged many of Frontiers' supporters, including bar and bathhouse owners who vowed to boycott it.
"Bob risked losing advertising to educate the community about something we all know about now," said associate publisher David Gardner. "He was always committed to Frontiers being, first and foremost, an advocacy publication."
Craig was a Los Angeles native who attended North Hollywood High School. He served four years in the Air Force, assigned to the military police, before entering USC, where he majored in accounting.
He ran several successful businesses, including a flower shop and a messenger service. He perhaps was best known as the owner of the Hayloft, a Studio City bar, now closed, where gay men gathered to drink beer, eat popcorn and watch movies from Craig's collection of classics.
In 1978 he co-founded the Valley Business Alliance, which is now called the Los Angeles Business Alliance and serves as a chamber of commerce for gay and lesbian business owners.
Shortly after starting Frontiers, Craig joined the drive to make West Hollywood a city. In 1984 he was elected chairman of the West Hollywood Incorporation Committee and coined a term that gave the cityhood movement a huge boost
"I would suggest that if you are gay, Camelot is on the horizon," he said in a pro-cityhood speech given shortly before election day.
By the time he got back to his office, his phone was ringing with calls from reporters, who soon dubbed West Hollywood the "Gay Camelot." The city, which was incorporated in 1984, remains the only municipality in the country in which the mayor and the majority of the City Council are gay.
In 1986, recognizing gays' and lesbians' invisibility in state policymaking, Craig helped establish the Lobby for Individual Freedom and Equality to fight in Sacramento for gay civil rights. The group successfully battled for increased AIDS funding and extension of protections under the state hate crime law to gays and lesbians.
Although he preferred to stay behind the scenes in politics, Craig "saw the importance of our visible presence in the political world," said Laurie McBridge, a senior legislative aide to former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa who was executive director of the state lobbying group when Craig served on its board of directors. "He championed the work at the state level because he saw that it was a critical area that was being neglected."
A longtime resident of the San Fernando Valley, Craig is survived by a sister, Connie; a half sister, Catherine; and a nephew, great-nephew and great-niece.
Craig's funeral will be at 3 p.m. Friday at Metropolitan Community Church, 8714 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Donations may be sent to the Robert F. Craig Jr. Fund for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights, c/o Loquvam & Robertson, 8401 Sunset Blvd., Suite 800, Los Angeles 90069.