Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gay/Lesbian Publications on newsstands or online (as compared to old days)

The first question should be, are homosexuals reading the publications aimed at them. If not, can that be their personal failing or that of the editors and publishers? Here’s what I found at the local bookstore, good and bad.
Instinct Magazine has an excellent series of articles on the homosexual community in Durango CO. But most gay men’s magazines spend most of their space on silly clothing and non-gay celebrities. So it is good to find coverage of people who are working to change things.

In most gay publications the people covered are models, or people who may be gay but have done nothing for our community/movement.  That must mean that the editors are interested in celebrities, or think their readers are only interested in celebrities. I also find that many publications have not only ads, which is good, but articles on products, which means they may be like too many motion picture producers, who make money by putting products in their films. That is of course ironic since in the early days ONE Magazine and others could not get ads.

Outlook Magazine and others have book reviews, such as the new book by Victor J Banis, Longhorn. But none have reviews of books that cover homosexuality seriously. But we learn of a James Lyon who was in the movie Poison and died.
The Advocate has mention of the coming production of the Beebo Brinker Chronicles, by Ann Bannon, and a letter from Toby Johnson about how gay bombs might be a good weapon. 
Several publications have ads for the new retirement developments for wealthy homosexuals, such as the one at Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, the ones in Santa Fe, Blue Ridge NC, etc. This is a sociologically interesting development in our community. Most ads are aimed only at rich gay/lesbian readers, as are the articles, on expensive housing, cars, clothes, vacations, etc. And most could be found in any general publication as they are not aimed specifically at homosexuals. In fact travel writers seem to never cover a gay/lesbian center, library, historical site, book store, but only cover hotels and bars that in some case are not even mainly gay. It seems to me that a gay visiting a new town would want to find the local gay/lesbian newspaper or magazine, and see what information the local gay/lesbian center would have, and perhaps find the local gay church.
Curve had lots of articles on lesbians, most of whom have done something for the cause, which makes them a better supporter of those who are working in our community.
OUT Magazine is an example of how the men’s magazines often are the opposite-they cover no community/movement people. I would like to discuss with the writers of the article in the current issue that devote a lot fo space to two men, one of whom adopted the other and had to get the state of Illinois to change its laws to do so, was a millionaire and the two men then spent their lives to growing lovely gardens. Is that what gays do? Apparently all their money and time and energy went to gardening and none to helping our community/movement.  And they are they type people OUT covers. Where are the articles on men and women who are working in our community/movement, dead or alive? I would think young homosexual men and women would be interested in knowing who changed America for homosexual citizens in 50 years and how they came to do it.
If so, they will, sadly, have to go to non-gay publications. I direct them to Details, which covers the issue of a homosexual man who has been in and out of the military and is an example of why we need to change the rules, something our movement has been trying to do since the early ’60s.
But on one of the most important issues we face, we also have to go to a general publication, Mother Jones. Here we find a great article on the issue of what makes us homosexual—or as the pc people would insist, gay. And here we find the view Don Slater and ONE/HIC has been making since the ’50s: it is NOT a good idea to insist that we are born homosexual. It doesn't matter whether or not this is true. It is lousy politics. And it can and is backfiring. The ex-gay and NARTH people are using it against us and there is a danger that the issue will go backwards and become a “medical problem” in which the main issue, our civil rights, is lost.
And the issue is found in another place, not on the newsstands but in a religiously oriented publication, the Record of the Evangelicals Concerned. Among the interesting news items we find a discussion of the Exodus, ex-gay meeting in Los Angeles in mid-June. And the strange statements by what have been promoters of ex-gay issues, such as Alan Chambers, who admits that he still has homosexual desires. More ex-gays have recanted, Michael Bussee, Jeremy Marks and Darlene Bogle. And covered is the “issue” that the Southern Baptist Church is still promoting ex-gay work but in a “kinder, gentler” way. But a member of that church has said that he thinks there may be a biological component of being gay. Is that good for us? Some think so, but most of us think that merely means we can be forced to change if they can find a way of doing that.
But is this and other important issues being covered in our press? Are we seeing books on the subject (Besen does cover it)? Mostly we are seeing books promoted by closeted gays who were rich and famous but now are safely able to come out thanks to he 50 years of a few homosexuals and allies who devoted their lives to making changes but are ignored by the current editors and publishers.
I of course have a conflict of interest, but I have no doubt that ONE Magazine, and later Tangents, did a better job of balanced coverage of homosexuality than the publications of today. Today there are so many, as in organizations, that they can specialize. But they even in doing that do not serve our community well. How many even have editorials? They seem to not want to say anything that might upset readers or advertisers, much like our politicians. And they often don't even have letters to the editor sections, so they don't even let their readers have a voice. Most don't carry movement news. 
I think it may be a good thing that many people now turn to the internet and gay/lesbian sites. There we find news, and views. So I won't have to go to the newsstand in my local book store much any more. Once the advertisers learn this, they may go to the internet too, where most of us have gone.


Don Irwin said...

Thanks for the great perspective Billy! As you mention in the last paragraph, more and more advertisers are turning to TV and the internet as well as mainstream publications (general population pubs like Details) to advertise to LGBT individuals. We'd love to expand our coverage, but that means expanding a shrinking advertising base.


Toby Johnson said...

Thanks for acknowledging my letter to the Advocate in your recent mailing.

Let me mention that I'd originally written that letter about the "gay bomb" as a comment about the Gay Spirituality Movement. There had been a sentence about how the message of the spirituality movement is that gay consciousness is more loving and less warlike.

The Advocate omitted the reference to "Gay Spirituality."

They NEVER mention the spirituality side of the gay movement. The gay press that you critique seems only interested in traditional religion. Things like gay pagans or Easton Mountain or the Radical Faeries or the whole spiritual side of Harry Hay for that matter are seldom in ever acknowledged in the major "gay" magazines.

I concur with your complaints

toby johnson