Sunday, October 26, 2014


(What’s happening at your publication? Let us know at

AFTERELLEN, the women’s-focused online community, has been acquired by EVOLVE MEDIA, leaving its parent company VIACOM. Evolve Media also owns TOTALLYHER, another LGBT female-focused site.

FRONTIERS MEDIA, based in Los Angeles, will sponsor its second edition of Hitched, the newspaper’s gay and lesbian wedding event to be held on November 9, 2014.
Fred Kuhr

FRED KUHR celebrated his eighth anniversary as editor of PRESS PASS Q in September 2014.

LAMBDA WEEKLY, a weekly LGBT talk show on 89.3 KNON-FM in Dallas with DAVID TAFFET, LERONE LANDIS and THE LATE PATTI FINK, was named Best Radio Talk Show in Dallas by the Dallas Observer. (And The Late Patti Fink isn't dead, just late).

M.E. PUBLICATIONS, owner of New York City-based ODYSSEY MAGAZINE, has launched a Florida monthly edition of Odyssey. The publication of its first issue will coincide with Halloween. Also, the company’s Los Angeles and Toronto editions are now available digitally.

THE NATIONAL LGBTQ TASK FORCE is the new name of the NATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN TASK FORCE, the group announced on October 8, 2014.

TAGG MAGAZINE, a lesbian-focused magazine based in Washington, D.C., published its second anniversary issue in September/October 2014.

THE WILTON MANORS GAZETTE was launched by the SOUTH FLORIDA GAY NEWS as a supplement in its August 8, 2014, issue. Meant as a hometown community newspaper, the Gazette will eventually be a stand-alone publication.

Bob Witeck
WINDY CITY TIMES, based in Chicago, was a sponsor of the Work! Chicago LGBTQ Youth Job Fair on October 22, 2014. The event was a followup to the newspaper’s LGBTQ Homeless Youth Summit in May 2014.

BOB WITECK, president of public relations firm WITECK COMMUNICATIONS and a longtime LGBT rights activist, married his longtime partner BOB CONNELLY JR., a senior researcher for the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL and an adjunct professor at American University, on October 1, 2014, in Washington, D.C. They have been together for 20 years.

Volume 16
Issue 7

PRESSING QUESTIONS: The Vital Voice of St. Louis

by Joe Siegel

Year founded: The Vital Voice got its start following the shuttering of the venerable Lesbian and Gay News Telegraph (founded in 1981) in January 2000.

Staff size and breakdown [writers, sales reps., etc.]: Staff of 10: 3 business directors, 2 sales reps, 4 writers, 1 photographer.

Physical dimensions of publication: 8.5” X 11” glossy.

Average page count: 64

Print run:  25,000 monthly 


Press Pass Q: What part of The Vital Voice is the most popular? 

CEO/Publisher Darin Slyman: Cover Features and profile stories. We focus on people doing amazing things in life. Some are politicians, but we do have more of a celebrity lineup over politicians. Also, smart LGBT business people who are making changes in their companies and/or heads of non-profits organization.

PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it?

Slyman: Former Publisher Pam Schneider came up with the name Vital Voice. After The Lesbian and Gay News Telegraph shut down, she wanted a title that would be more open and appealing to a more mass audience. As she says, "After all, we are a vital voice!"

PPQ: What challenges are you facing right now?

Slyman: This year Vital Voice has expanded from just the St. Louis market to a statewide LGBT modern lifestyle publication and media company. Anytime a company goes through growth, there are always hurdles and challenges. However, with this expansion has also come great freedom. 

PPQ: How has The Vital Voice changed since it was first launched?

Slyman: When Vital Voice first launched, it was an old-style newspaper that really focused only on hardcore LGBT news. Back then it was needed, but with today's digital market, one can get that news faster and [it] is more readily available. In 2009, I took over the company and changed its print publication focus to a more life and style aspect. Since the takeover,  I have taken the company from an old newspaper printing only 1,200 copies and only found in a small section of St. Louis to a statewide glossy magazine printing around 25,000 issues each month and distributed throughout the state. I have also taken the company from near bankruptcy to a $1.5 million company in less than five years. I credit these successes to always being open to change.

PPQ: What one change would you like to make?

Slyman: We at Vital Voice are really excited about the way things are going these days. The only change we'd like to make is to expand to more markets throughout the Midwest.

PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 [exclusively straight to totally gay], how gay is your publication?

Slyman: We would be considered about a 5. Yes, we are focused on the LGBT lifestyle, but we don't forget our allies and have garnered a huge straight audience with this newer direction.

PPQ: Do you see yourself as an “activist journalist'? If so, in what way?

Slyman: No, by no means does Vital Voice consider itself an activist [publication]. We are a media company which focuses on the LGBT communities’ life and style. Again, [activism] is how the old gay media operated. That is not the mission of today or tomorrow. We leave the activism to the non-profit organizations to handle.

PPQ: Why do you think The Vital Voice has endured as long as it has?

Slyman: The only reason Vital Voice has been around so long is because of its strong leadership and those in charge not being afraid of evolving.

PPQ: What advice do you have for others working in LGBT media?

Slyman: Evolve in order to stay relevant. Stop looking at 1980s gay media as a standard of excellence. Yes, it had its time in the limelight, but alas you MUST evolve to be the future you want to be.

Volume 16
Issue 7

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Washington Blade turns 45

by Chuck Colbert

The Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest LGBT newspaper, recently marked its 45th anniversary, a considerable feat in gay media. To celebrate the milestone, the venerable newspaper published a 72-page special issue and threw a party, a benefit on behalf of its newly launched Washington Blade Foundation, a 501c(3) non-profit.

The foundation has two purposes. One purpose is raising money to digitize the Blade’s entire 45-year archives, which are a front-line record of the LGBT community in the nation’s capital and beyond. The archives will be made available for public research and reference.

The foundation’s other purpose is to fund academic and journalism research for LGBT topics and to support the work of young gay journalists.

“We’re excited to continue the Blade’s 45-year mission through the work of the Foundation,” said Blade publisher Lynne Brown, quoted in the newspaper by senior reporter Lou Chibbaro Jr. “This is a tremendous new vehicle for supporters to contribute directly to our work and for journalists and researchers to benefit.”

The Blade also announced a donation of historic editions of the publication to the Newseum. One of the donated editions first mentioned the HIV epidemic, Chibbaro noted.

A Newseum representative attended the fundraising benefit and received eight editions, including the first issue of the Blade, which was published on Oct. 6, 1969. The fundraiser, held at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Logan Circle showroom on October 9, also featured a short program honoring the Blade’s history.

The special anniversary issue included on the front page a reproduction of the first published edition of the newspaper, which was a mimeographed one-page, single-sheet of paper known then as The Gay Blade.

As part of the anniversary celebration, the Blade’s editorial staff selected the top 45 headlines from the publication’s archives. “These headlines often represent single events, but sometimes are used thematically to encompass a series of related events. Each one survived several rounds of voting to make the cut and determine its order in the final list,” according to staff reports. “The stories are a mix of local and national events that helped shape the LGBT movement.”

The anniversary issue included a four-page, color photo essay of the last five years, compiled by Michael Key, Blade photo editor.

It also featured an opinion piece by editor Naff that voiced optimism for the years ahead in LGBT media. “Many pundits and Chicken Littles seem to relish in declaring journalism and the print media dead. But a closer look at the reality of publishing for a niche audience reveals a much more promising future,” he wrote. “Rather than mope about the impact of digital media on print’s fortunes or live in fear of a paperless future, I’ve always thought it much more rewarding to revel in these new opportunities and be grateful at having a chance to participate in — and even influence — the myriad changes happening across the media landscape.”

Naff also noted the publication’s expansive reporting. “The scope of our coverage has changed,” he wrote, “from local and political stories to a much broader focus on international issues and stories of interest to readers in other parts of the country. This summer, we dispatched a reporter and photographer for a week in the Deep South to report on the plight of LGBT residents there. A month later, we sent a reporter to Peru to cover U.S. efforts at boosting LGBT equality there. And this month, we travel to Mexico City.”

During a telephone interview, Naff said, “The focus of my op-ed was deliberately forward looking. When we did the 40th, we spent a lot of time looking backward, talking about early editors and founders. This time I wanted to focus on looking forward.”

He also said that about 250 people attended the fundraising benefit, “a solid kickoff for the foundation.”

The 45th anniversary comes five years after the publication’s inspiring resurrection. To recap, the Blade had celebrated its 40th anniversary a month earlier. But on the morning of November 16, 2009, staffers learned, without any warning, that Window Media LLC, the parent company, had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Immediately, a dozen employees volunteered — without pay — to continue publishing the paper under the name D.C. Agenda.

Like its predecessor, the D.C. Agenda covered local Beltway and national news until April 2010 when the newsweekly resumed using the name Washington Blade and returned to local ownership.

The change occurred when a new corporate entity, Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia, acquired from bankruptcy court all Blade assets, including the name, all trademarks and copyrights, and the entire 40-year archive. 

The purchase price was $15,000.

Brown, Naff, and Blade senior sales executive Brian Pitts wrote in a column in the newspaper at the one-year mark in 2010, “In the immediate aftermath of the bankruptcy, the Blade staff stuck together. ... We are proud to report that we never missed a week of publishing LGBT news.”

By May 2011, the Blade had new logo, new print and layout design, a media-enhanced website, a mobile application, and expanded distribution beyond metropolitan Washington, D.C., which includes suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia, to Baltimore, Philadelphia and Rehoboth, Del.

Longtime Blade reader Bob Witeck, president of Witeck Communications, offered his perspective on the Blade’s 45th anniversary.

“I’ve been reading the Blade from the start, when I was in high school. In the 1960s I remember it as a lifeline, and also as the voice of early gay activism,” he said. “Today I see it as professional journalism, which is what it has grown up to be. It has been among the most important LGBT journals in America, not simply because Washington D.C. is so self-important, but because of our national government. The Blade has often been the journal of record in covering public policy and politics in every way. It has earned trust and access and context in covering the most important news stories that matter to us.

“I remember being a Senate press secretary on Capitol Hill in 1979, and taking a press call from Lou Chibbaro on the Blade staff. Here it is 35 years later, and I’m still talking with Lou at the Blade.” This anniversary, he said, “is evidence that a newspaper that understands and is deeply tied to its local community can thrive, not just survive.”

Based in Washington, D.C., Witeck Communications specializes in strategic public relations and marketing communications for corporate and non-profit clients.

Over the years, the Blade grew to become a respected and award-winning news source.

Blade reporters, for example, were the first in LGBT media to acquire credentials on Capitol Hill and the White House.

This year, the White House Correspondents Association invited Blade political reporter Chris Johnson to join the in-town White House press pool rotation. His invitation marks a first for an LGBT media outlet.

In May, Blade staffers, including Johnson, editor Naff, and senior reporter Chibbaro attend the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

In June, the Washington Blade won three first-place awards in the Dateline Awards competition sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists’ D.C. chapter.

In addition to its weekly print issue, the Blade has a robust website, which features daily and, from time to time, hourly updates on breaking news and politics. There are 150,000 unique monthly web site readers. The publication also has a social media presence with more than 32,000 Facebook followers and more than 22,000 followers on Twitter.

Volume 16
Issue 7

Diane Anderson-Minshall’s remarkable year

by Chuck Colbert

By any number of measures, Diane Anderson-Minshall has had a remarkable year.

An award-winning journalist, author and public speaker, she serves as editor-at-large of The Advocate magazine and editor in chief of HIV Plus magazine. At HIV Plus, Anderson-Minshall oversees all of the brand’s print, digital and mobile platforms. At The Advocate, she has a regular monthly print column and also provides occasional web content.
Diane Anderson-Minshall

Her writing has appeared in dozens of publications and anthologies. She previously served as longtime editor in chief of Curve magazine. Anderson-Minshall also co-founded the lesbian magazines Girlfriends and Alice.

Here at a glance is what she has been up to in 2014:

•  In March, Anderson-Minshall addressed the United Nations’ 58th Commission on the Status of Women. The title of her speech was “Women and HIV: A Virus Knows No Gender," which discussed how violence against women is the number one contributor to the rising HIV rates for women around the world.

•  In April, Anderson-Minshall was the keynote speaker in Dallas at the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s 9th Annual Dinner, “A Celebration of Excellence,” which recognizes the work that business community leaders have done for the local community.

•  In May, she received the inaugural Western Publishing Association’s Maggie Award for Leadership for her work at HIV Plus in developing the publication’s Treatment Guide Mobile App.

•  Also in May, Anderson-Minshall served on several panels at the Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival in New Orleans, speaking about LGBT memoir and HIV in literature.

•  In June, Anderson-Minshall attended the first-ever national “HIV is Not a Crime” conference in Grinnell, Iowa. The gathering brought together 200 activists, policy makers, politicians and people living with HIV to talk about how to best fight outdated HIV criminalization laws.

•  Also in June, from the Los Angeles Press Club, she won the prestigious 56th SoCal Journalism Awards Best Online Feature Article for “Remembering the Worst Mass Killing of LGBT People in U.S. History.” Two months later, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA)-Los Angeles board of directors also honored Anderson-Minshall for the same article, awarding her Best Overall Entry for excellence in journalism.

•  In July, Anderson-Minshall was a featured speaker on a panel titled “The LGBT Geek Year in Review” at the San Diego Comic-Con International’s annual convention.

•  In August, as co-chair of LGBT Media Summit for NLGJA’s annual convention, Anderson-Minshall’s service was integral to programming, for example, in reintroducing HIV as a topic and ensuring trans people were front and center.

•  In September, Anderson-Minshall was among a group of people who participated an event called “Keeping Communities Healthy,” which explored preventing HIV transmission among gay and bisexual men using dating sites and apps. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation and federal and local public health departments sponsored the event. 

 • In October, she participated in the 18th Annual United States Conference on AIDS, where HIV Plus is a corporate media sponsor. In addition to covering the conference and hosting an exhibitor booth, Anderson-Minshall met with numerous HIV/AIDS stakeholders, sharing her new HIV Style Guide on how to report on issues related to HIV/AIDS.

And for all her awards and speaking engagements this year, Anderson-Minshall is co-author (with her husband) of the 2014 memoir “Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders.” It tells the story of how her 23-year-plus relationship with Jacob Anderson-Minshall survived his gender reassignment and the transition from lesbian couple to man and wife.

One reviewer, Jackson Nash in Lambda Literary, wrote, “‘Queerly Beloved’ will have particular appeal for trans men and their partners, as well as those who are fans of the authors’ previous work, or writers interested in creative non-fiction. It is a lively story, often brutally honest, told with humor and integrity.”

Another reviewer, Terri Schlichenmeyer, wrote in Chicago’s Windy City Times, “You'll find a deeply personal look at transitioning from the aspect of both the transitioner and the person who's loved him for most of their lives.”

Jacob Anderson-Minshall offered his perspective. “Our relationship has always been a mix of romance, politics and business and we’ve conspired on numerous projects together, including our memoir, the three ‘Blind Eye Detectives’ mystery novels, and co-founding Girlfriends magazine,” he told Press Pass Q. “Yes, she is my wife, but she is so much more.”

Asked about a highlight of the year, Diane Anderson-Minshall pointed to the Maggie Award for Leadership “because it was a mainstream award and it was for HIV Plus and for a platform — mobile — that a year earlier I hadn't even really worked with. When you're at an awards program with all these mainstream magazines and get to get up and talk about HIV, it has to have an impact on them.”

Indeed. In presenting Anderson-Minshall the Maggie Award, Western Publishing Association president Ron Epstein said, “Our Leadership Award honors an individual whose vision and innovation in the past year demonstrated real-world execution of a new platform, concept or segment of the business that improved or altered the media landscape in which it operates, or expanded or created a new business opportunity. Diane’s work in helping develop the HIV Plus Treatment Guide Mobile App, and her continued devotion to the industry, is an inspiration. She is the epitome of what this award is all about.”

In all, “It’s been a fantastic year professionally and personally,” Diane Anderson-Minshall said. “The awards are great, but often what they represent is even better.”

Volume 16
Issue 7

Thursday, October 16, 2014

TOP STORY: LGBT consumer research survey data released by Community Marketing Inc.

Data used by publishers and sales reps to increase ad sales
by Chuck Colbert

In August, Community Marketing Inc. (CMI), a gay-owned San Francisco-based consumer-research company, released its 8th annual LGBT community survey. It provides useful data for gay media publishers and their sales teams. That’s because, in addition to providing overall LGBT market-specific data, the survey also gives publication-specific data to participating gay media outlets.

“Community Marketing is helping to promote the gay and lesbian market,” said Todd Evans, president and chief executive officer of Rivendell Media, which publishes Press Pass Q. “Right now, the company is the only one doing that.”

Evans noted, “I think the real crisis in gay media is not so much digital.” Rather, “The news has waned on the gay ‘market,’ and it’s all about gay rights. Everything is about equal rights and that does not stimulate national ad sales. The only thing that stimulates national ad sales in LGBT media is information on the LGBT market. Gay rights and equal rights don’t stimulate anything outside of the wedding business, which, while important and does help local sales, does not much help gain the interest of Madison Avenue as there are very few big national advertisers in that arena.”

For all the information provided in CMI’s survey — which includes information on financial confidence and concerns, beverage consumption, real estate, LGBT terminology and communications, brand recognition, sports interaction and engagement, family dynamics, and news media interaction — perhaps the most important data is that of purchasing behavior.

In this section, CMI asked respondents about their purchases over the past year, as well as planned purchases over the coming year. The categories included tickets for performing arts (theatre and music for example), vacations of five or more nights, salon services or spa treatments, tickets to non-profit fundraisers ($100 or more), purchased or leased new automobiles, major new furniture purchases (over $500), major kitchen appliances (over $500), bathroom remodeling, kitchen remodeling, primary residences, and cosmetic enhancements (surgical or non-surgical).

As a point of comparison, past and planned purchases among these product categories tested for both 2013 and 2014 were nearly identical, a finding that David Paisley, CMI’s senior researcher director, noted during a recent webinar discussing the survey results. Among the categories, tickets for performing arts and vacation of five nights or more ranked the highest, first and second for both gay and bisexual men as well as lesbians and bisexual women. Salon services or spa treatments and tickets to non-profit fundraisers were next in purchases for both men and women.

The full survey report download is available at no charge by clicking on the “LGBT Research” menu tab at

“What we learn about consumer behavior from the survey is very important,” said Bob Witeck, president and founder of Witeck Communications. “Publishers would look at any trends in consumer needs, trying to understand where the advertising base is changing or not.”

Based in Washington, D.C., Witeck Communications specializes in strategic public relations and marketing communications for corporate and non-profit clients. Witeck Communications has no fiduciary responsibility or connection to CMI.

LGBT media consumption is also important, said Witeck. In fact, CMI survey data shows that LGBT media engagement is “generally stable, with digital media experiencing significant growth and print staying the same in readership.”

Another finding is that LGBTs of all ages visit websites and blogs that are LGBT community oriented. At the same time, older LGBTs are “far more engaged with LGBT print media than younger LGBTs.” Millennials are “voracious media consumers” and “significantly increasing their media consumption.”

The survey also found more than half of LGBTs used a mobile device to purchase an entertainment or travel product in the past year.

So then, how do publishers and their sales teams employ CMI’s survey data?

“We use the CMI demographic information on our readers and the results of the annual travel survey,” said Scott W. Wazlowski, vice president of advertising at San Francisco-based Bay Area Reporter, in email correspondence. (For nearly two decades, CMI has produced a yearly LGBT Tourism Survey.)

“We've found [the demographic info] very useful in speaking with confidence and conviction about our readers' habits and how marketing to them directly through print and online advertising is a cost-efficient means of reaching the Bay Area LGBT consumer,” he said.

CMI’s publication-specific data is also incorporated into BAR’s media kit. For example, “Bay Area Reporter’s readers are in their prime years of acquisition, making the audience an ideal target for real estate, home furnishings, automotive, travel,” among others categories.

BAR’s demographic information shows that its readership is 80 percent male, 15 percent female, and five percent transgender. In addition, nearly 50 percent of its readership is 35-54 years of age, with 28.2 percent aged 55-64 and 10.1 percent aged 18-34.

Income distribution spans a range. For example, 28.8 percent of BAR readers report household income $50,000-$74,999, with 10.2 percent reporting income of $75,000-$99,999, 15.9 percent reporting $100,000-$149,999, and 22.8 percent reporting $150,000 or more.

Pointing to a concrete example of the usefulness of BAR-specific data, Wazlowski said, “We used the information, specifically income levels and planned purchase statistics, for major vacations of five nights or more, to convince Celebrity Cruises to appear in our publication in 2013.” Also convincing, he said, was “63.3 percent of our readers indicated that they would be significantly or moderately influenced favorably to purchase a cruise from a brand that included LGBT outreach.”

Accordingly, Celebrity Cruises has become “a regular and frequent advertiser,” said Wazlowski.

CMI data is also important for a leading LGBT publication in Texas.

“One of the most valuable lessons you learn in marketing is knowing your target audience,” said publisher Leo Cusimano of Dallas Voice in an email. “If you understand your market, you can better utilize your resources; your resources are both time and money. At Dallas Voice we sell differently, we look at businesses’ marketing efforts and help them understand the value of identifying their target audience. Knowing where your customers shop, what they read, and the makeup of their profile, helps businesses spend their money on advertising more effectively and their time networking being productive.”

Both publishers and editors can benefit from CMI survey data.

“The CMI study is extremely valuable for us at Dallas Voice, to use for both advertising and editorial. In selling advertising you're basically selling a readership, the more you know about that readership the better you can sell. In editorial, the more you understand trends of your readers, the better you can present both relevant information and vehicles they search,” said Cusimano. “Our editorial team studies the CMI research to help grow our reach. For example, the research identified our male and female ratio. We would like to grow our lesbian readership, so our plan is to produce a Lesbian Issue.”

Like BAR, Dallas Voice finds CMI data useful in creating its media kit.

“Our advertising team utilizes the information from the CMI survey in our media kits,” said Cusimano. “We have an extensive document and our media kit that is titled ‘Our Marketing Influence, Readership at a Glance.’ This document identifies key areas that we sell from. If we are meeting with an auto dealership, we give them the auto demographics from the CMI research.”

In Michigan, Jan Stevenson, publisher of Detroit area-based Between the Lines (BTL), said her publication also finds CMI’s data invaluable.

Each year, “We look forward to the survey results,” she explained over the telephone. “As soon as we get it, we update our media kit.”

The reason, Stevenson said, “is one of the first questions potential advertisers ask is, ‘What are your demographics, who reads your paper?’ And because we have the CMI data, we’re able to say with some degree of certainty, what our readers look like.”

BTL readers, for example, are 54 percent male and 44 percent female. BTL readers’ average income is $86,000, with more than 25 percent reporting income greater than $100,000.

In addition, as a measure of customer loyalty, 94 percent of BTL readers said they prefer to shop at a gay-friendly business and that they are more likely to shop with businesses that advertise in the publication.

Stevenson said that BTL also uses CMI survey data for the publication’s special issues, which include a focus on pets, health, homes, cars, theatre and a wedding guide. “There are specific questions buried in the data asking, ‘Are you going to buy a car in the next year, do you own a pet, and how many pets are in your home?’ So we can look at that and see what our readers’ usage of products or anticipated products compared the general population and say our readers are more likely to own a pet.”

Data comparing LGBTs to the general market for pet ownership, said Stevenson, comes from various “pet websites that estimate and do breakdowns, looking at how many American households have dogs. If our numbers are higher than that, we make a big deal of it.”

CMI’s survey found overall that 41 percent of gay and bisexual men and 48 percent of lesbian and bisexual women care for dogs.

Automotive data is also good, she said, specifically information on domestic versus foreign car intended purchases. “That’s very important to us because no matter how you cut it, we are in Detroit and everyone works for auto companies.”

In automobile purchases, CMI found that while one brand did not dominate purchases, Ford, Honda and Toyota were the top three brands in the LGBT community.

In all, the benefits of CMI’s data for individual LGBT publications are three-fold, said Rivendell’s Evans, noting that participation in the survey is free. “They get their own reader demographics. They get facts and figures for sales leads. They are helping the whole gay market by stimulating sales and segments where it makes sense.

“Madison Avenue is all about independent fact and figures. And without Community Marketing doing these surveys, we would have to pay for our own. Many gay media outlets did for many years to stimulate the market and make news. In advertising, it’s is all about justifying ad-buying decisions.

“There is a business case for participating,” said Evans.

Volume 16
Issue 7

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

D.C.'s Metro Weekly marks 20th anniversary

by Chuck Colbert

A glossy LGBT newsmagazine based in the nation’s capital achieved a significant milestone earlier this year when Metro Weekly celebrated its 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, staffers published a 112-page commemorative issue featuring a retrospective spotlight on the publication’s history, including 20 interviews, 20 features and 20 questions pertaining to the magazine.

The May 1 issue also contained two pieces looking back on the publication’s two decades worth of providing news, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment, and "Scene" photographs from events and venues. In fact, the “Scene” section has archived more than a 100,000 photos from Washington LGBT community events online.

In the 20th anniversary issue, here’s how founder, publisher and editor in chief Randy Shulman recalled the first issue of Metro Weekly:

“Running around frantically in my tiny apartment at the corner of 17th and T Streets, [I was] scrambling to get the very first issue of Metro Arts & Entertainment Weekly written and to the printer,” he wrote. “I don’t have clear, detailed memories of it, apart from recalling that pages were laid out in PageMaker on a monochrome IBM computer — floppy disks! — printed out on a cheap black and white laser printer, and then pasted onto templates through the aid of a hot-glue gun. The pages were then bound into a loose-leaf three-ring binder — ‘the book,’ as it came to be known — which was then raced to the printer by car and handed off, relay style, to the camera department. From there, I always said, ‘It’s in God’s hands.’ God, in this case, being the printing press, which would not break down and create a distribution delay. God forbid.”

Over the years, changes came, including the name change (from Metro Arts & Entertainment Weekly to Metro Weekly), as well as changes in format (to full glossy magazine in the last few years). 

And yet, Shulman said, the mission remained constant: “To create a magazine — and a website — that speaks to the LGBT community, locally and beyond, in a literate, interesting and, whenever possible, unique way,” he wrote. “A magazine that covers things that are more than just LGBT-oriented, because as LGBT people, we are interested in things beyond our own microcosm.”

For Shulman and Metro Weekly, the advance of LGBT rights and the changing landscape of LGBT equality played pivotal roles, featuring prominently in the publication’s coverage at the same time the media landscape transformed rapidly and significantly.

“The fight for equality has begat same-sex marriage, the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and a rise in our awareness and a fuller understanding of our transgender brothers and sisters,” he wrote. “These two decades have seen monumental advances in combating HIV/AIDS, though we’ve lost so many in that time and still have such a long way to go. And the view, from 1994 to 2014, has changed so dramatically that we routinely browse the world outside our all-too-often confining borders thanks to this little always-connected thing they call The Interwebs. These changes have been reflected in our pages, often through the words of the people who were working hard to implement them.”

During a telephone interview, Shulman added, “I’ve always put a prize on putting out a quality, creative, interesting, engaging publication. We are a unique magazine in the way that I think a magazine should read. I always joke that Metro Weekly is a gay version of The New Yorker.”

Shulman’s philosophy guides the magazine’s style. “There’s a Metro Weekly way to things, a Metro Weekly way to write articles, a Metro Weekly way to do Q&As,” he said. “We have a very specific way we do things, a very unique approach that is important to Metro Weekly’s history.”

For his part, Sean Bugg, who over the years served as both the magazine's editor and co-publisher, offered a first-person perspective.

“Twenty years ago when Metro Weekly first came off the press, it was a lot like me at the time: a little slapdash, bursting with energy and a bit naïve,” he wrote in the anniversary issue. “I mean all those things in a good way — it was slapdash because we had an idea for a magazine and simply decided to plow ahead. It was a moment when naiveté paid off because the young rush in where experience fears to tread.

“We went by our nickname ‘MW’ in those days, one of the many ways in which the magazine then is different than the magazine today. It was smaller then, designed for easy pick up in the days when our distribution was limited to bars, restaurants and a couple of retail stores. It was black and white with spot color — ‘spot color’ being a difficult concept to explain to a generation that grew up with home printers that output high-res rainbows in seconds flat.

“The magazine now goes by its given name and at a glance is a barely recognizable adult compared to its newsprint youth. Metro Weekly lives in a different package these days. And what lives in that package today is different from what popped into existence 20 years ago. As you’ll see when you page (or scroll!) through this issue, our scope has changed and our ambition has grown. But you can recognize us between the lines and behind the design of those first few years — the hunger for interesting stories, the commitment to excellent writing, the willingness to try new things and push the boundaries of what a gay publication could be.”

All in all, Bugg wrote, “A magazine is more than a stack of stapled paper or a hosted web domain. A magazine is an attitude toward and a passion for a particular realm — for Metro Weekly, that attitude and passion always has been for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. That’s what I see when I look back on the amazing journey we’ve taken from the spring of 1994 to today. The package may have changed and the approach may have matured, but I’ll always recognize the passion on the page.”

During a telephone interview, Bugg said he was “very proud” of the staying power of the magazine that “went through a lot of evolutions. We have done things with a non-traditional attitude. That attitude and the focus on writing and stories that are interesting and entertaining,” he added, distinguish Metro Weekly and explain the role it plays in the nation’s capital and beyond.

At the end of 2013, Bugg left Metro Weekly and is now executive director of the Next Generation Leadership Foundation. He remains the magazine's editor emeritus and an occasional contributor. 

Metro Weekly publishes every Thursday with a circulation of 17,500.

Volume 16
Issue 6

Monday, September 29, 2014


(What’s happening at your publication? Let us know at

BAY AREA REPORTER, based in San Francisco, has moved its offices to the city’s upper Market area, at 44 Gough Street, Suite 204. Since last fall, BAR had been housed in the downtown offices of SF MEDIA COMPANY, parent of the SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN and SF WEEKLY.

THE BILERICO PROJECT (BILERICO.COM) celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sept. 27, 2014.

JONATHAN BUGG is the new editorial director of DAVID ATLANTA.

COMPETE MAGAZINE, based in Phoenix, Ariz., has launched a Southern California edition called COMPETE SOCAL.

BRIAN DEWITT has retired from his position as associate editor of Cleveland, Ohio-based GAY PEOPLE’S CHRONICLE. He has been part of the newspaper’s staff since its founding in 1985.

GAY PEOPLE’S CHRONICLE, based in Cleveland, Ohio, entered its 30th year of publication with its July 11, 2014, issue.

THE LESBIAN NEWS, based in Torrance, Calif., entered its 40th year of publication with its August 2014 issue.

MULTIMEDIA PLATFORMS LLC, publisher of FLORIDA AGENDA and GUY MAGAZINE, has moved its corporate headquarters to Fort Lauderdale from Wilton Manors, Fla.


Staff at Rage Monthly
KARA J. PHILP is the new managing editor of Phoenix, Ariz.-based ECHO MAGAZINE.

QNOTES, based in Charlotte, N.C., held its first annual QList—Best of LGBT Charlotte Awards Reception on July 17, 2014.

RAGE MONTHLY, based in San Diego, Calif., was named Outstanding Publication for the fourth consecutive year by the Nicky Awards, one of the West Coast’s oldest LGBT community awards.

MEGAN RAPINOE, a midfielder for the Seattle Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League and a member of the U.S. women’s national team, was the guest editor of THE WASHINGTON BLADE’s second annual sports issue published on August 22, 2014.

WIRE MAGAZINE, based in Miami, Fla., has launched WIREMAG, its new branding strategy that will include its print, digital and online content.

Volume 16
Issue 6