History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Media - Print

In Step
a.k.a. Wisconsin In Step

First Issue:
Last Issue:

  February 9, 1984
November 6, 2003

News (male and female)

Based in:

Milwaukee, Wis.


Initial: 5.5"w x 8.5"h 'bar rag'
Eventual: 10.5"w x 15"h, newspaper



Read the History of In Step.

Cover Galleries:
        Volumes 1 thru 2 (Feb. 1984-Dec. 1985)
        Volumes 3 thru 5 (Jan. 1986-Dec. 1988)
        Volumes 6 thru 7 (Jan. 1989-Dec. 1990)
        Volumes 8 thru 10 (Jan. 1991-Dec. 1993)
        Volumes 11 thru 13 (Jan. 1994-Dec. 1996)
        Volumes 14 thru 15 (Jan. 1997-Dec. 1998)
        Volumes 16 thru 17 (Jan. 1999-Dec. 2000)
        Volumes 18 thru 20 (Jan. 2001-Nov. 2003: last issue)

(The following is largely condensed from "the History of InStep" (written by Jamakaya), with information abouts its demise at the very end of this article. See link above for more complete history prior to its demise.)

The premiere issue of Wisconsin IN Step, first called WisconsIN Step, rolled off the presses on February 9, 1984. The issue was 48 pages long and five thousand copies were printed in a 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" newsprint format. Until its sudden demise, after several physical transformations but just one major ownership change, Wisconsin IN Step - popularly known through all of its incarnations as just "In Step" - was the longest running, continually published gay and lesbian newspaper in the state.

In Step was the brainchild of David Iraci and Ron Geiman, who, after their stints in the Marine Corps and Army in the 1970s, became involved in Milwaukee’s gay community. In the early 1980s, a series of gay papers and entertainment guides started and folded in very short order. Geiman sold ads for two of those publications, Escape and Gay Milwaukee, but local businesses were reluctant to advertise because the owners and publishers were based in Chicago. Geiman became convinced he could win local advertising support for a locally run newspaper, and In Step was born.

Geiman soon bought out Iraci, and led In Step as both publisher and editor for 11 years, until health problems forced him to step back in the summer of 1995. The publication he built grew in size, editorial content and stature over those years, and he became one of the most respected leaders in Milwaukee’s, and Wisconsin’s, gay and lesbian community.

The growth of In Step mirrored the growth of Wisconsin’s LGBT community. The "Guide" in the first issue of "WisconsIN Step" included just 40 listings, all of them gay bars in Wisconsin or bordering states. By the 1990s, IN Step published between 80-96 pages biweekly and its Guide included hundreds of gay and lesbian-owned bars, restaurants and businesses, political organizations, choruses, churches, sports teams, services and support groups.

IN Step has documented the Milwaukee LGBT communities' victories and losses - civil rights laws, Supreme Court decisions, the Gay Games, the Pentagon’s policy, Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes, Tammy Baldwin’s election to Congress, Stonewall 25, gay bashings, gay weddings and, of course, AIDS. The very first issue in 1984 reported that the Centers for Disease Control counted 3,064 cases of AIDS nationwide, while the toll in Wisconsin at that time was just 24. In May that same year, we reported "AIDS Virus Found," and in January of 1985: "New Blood Test May Limit Spread of AIDS."

Advertising and content increased to such an extent that in 1993 Ron Geiman "took the leap," as he says, and expanded In Step’s format. In December of that year, it appeared in an 8-1/2" x 11" standard magazine format, though still on newsprint. And in deference to the more inclusive spirit among gays and lesbians, it was dubbed "In Step: Wisconsin’s LesBiGay Magazine."

But further changes were on the way. When Geiman became ill in 1995, Jamakaya served as editor for an interim period until the paper was sold. In April of 1996, William Attewell and Jorge Cabal purchased In Step. Attewell ran Wells Ink, an ad agency which specialized in the gay and lesbian market. He was also the elusive W.W. Wells III, author of "Juicy Bits." His partner in life and business, Jorge Cabal, was a noted portrait photographer. Together, they had begun publishing a gay magazine, Q•Voice, in October, 1995.

Upon taking the reins at In Step, Attewell and Cabal redesigned the magazine to make it more reader-friendly, but promised to retain its most popular features to insure continuity. They thanked advertisers, subscribers and readers for keeping faith, and added: "We'd like to express our commitment to Wisconsin's LesBiGay Community. In Step Magazine will remain your comprehensive news, information and entertainment resource."

In May of 1997, the annual Pride issue was published in a new format - a tabloid-size newsprint edition with a banner reading: "In Step Newsmagazine." Then, in August of 1998, Q-Voice was merged into In Step, with the letter "Q" retained to mark the paper's arts and entertainment section. In November of 1998, In Step began bearing the subtitle "Wisconsin's LGBT Community Newspaper." A final transformation took place in January of 2000, with a bold new logo that reaffirmed the paper's geographic market while honoring its roots: "Wisconsin IN Step."

In Step's last issue was dated November 20, 2003- although at the time no one knew there was to be no next issue. Contributing staff had even been preparing articles for the next issue that never came about. The publisher is reported to have lost interest in the paper and it became more of a chore than a pleasure or passion. Although a last "wrap up" issue was promised, none ever appeared.


Original size, 5.5" wide x 8" high
Volumes 1 thru 10

Interim size, 8" wide x 10.5" high
Volumes 11 thru 14.10

Interim size, 11" wide x 17" high
Volumes 14.11 thru 16

Final size, 11" wide x 15" high
Volumes 17 thru end

Salute to InStep, 1995
(1.5MB PDF)

In Step office on S. 2nd St.

History of In Step from their web site

InStep web site after last issue
(2.7MB PDF)

Credits: Bulk of contents from In Step's own history published at various times.
History of In Step by Jamakaya of CLARITY Writing & Research.
Additional details by Don Schwamb
Web site concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: April-2022.

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