by Chuck Colbert
The Digital Revolution may well be the bane of gay print publication survival. But for historians of the LGBT community, its technology is a godsend.
A case in point is The Digital GLBTQ Publications collection, housed at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). For some time now, the university’s Libraries Special Collections has been digitizing local “queer periodicals.” The holdings include those the school had as well as those from the HAPPY Foundation Archives.
The HAPPY Foundation is a small LGBT archive located across the street from the Alamo. As part of its mission, the archive is dedicated to preserving LGBT history. The Foundation is named for Arthur “Hap” Veltman Jr., a local entrepreneur whom everyone called Happy. He died of AIDS in December 1988.
The Digital GLBTQ Publications collection spans three decades from the early 1980s though the mid 2000s, including The Calendar, The Marquise, San Antonio Community News, and Rainbow Gazette and Rainbow Garden Club manuscripts.
UTSA’s Digital GLBTQ Publications collection features primarily local periodicals, but some are not. The collection, for example, also includes several issues of One magazine, the nation’s first gay publication. The HAPPY Foundation houses the hard-copy issues.
Currently, QSanAntonio.com, in its seventh year of publication, is the city’s online LGBT magazine.
Melissa Gohlke, an urban historian working on the history of San Antonio's LGBTQ community, has been a driving force behind the digital project.
“Needless to say, we were very excited about the opportunity to digitize these valuable and rare materials that are so important to the preservation of San Antonio's queer history,” Gohlke explained. “This is an ongoing process. We plan to continue adding to our current digital holdings as well as acquiring analog materials from donors at LGBTQ organizations and from individual members of the city's queer community.”
Asked about the importance of the project, Gohlke said, “The long-term benefits of donations from the city's LGBTQ organizations and individuals cannot be understated. Too often in the past, queer materials were discarded or destroyed. Our goal is preservation and accessibility. As more materials are digitized, opportunities for access are greatly expanded.”
Gohlke began the digitization project several years ago as a graduate assistant working on a master's in history, with specific expertise in San Antonio's LGBTQ community. In fall 2009, she met Gene Elder, the archivist at the Happy Foundation. There, Gohlke volunteered as an intern and spent the semester cataloging the collections at the Happy Foundation.
Last year, Elder expressed interest in having some of the Happy Foundation’s materials digitized and thereby made more accessible to researchers and community members, said Gohlke. His interest coincided with Special Collections' purchase of an overhead scanner, which makes mass digitization projects possible.
“It has been a long time coming to get any university in San Antonio to start collecting our gay history. So I am delighted by what Melissa is doing,” said Elder. "She has really looked at San Antonio with a fresh eye, which is always welcome and greatly needed in our situation. Melissa has really uncovered newspaper articles and histories we had no idea existed. So I just get the biggest kick out of all her discoveries. These gay histories are most important especially here in the heart of Texas.”
Gohlke’s “Top Shelf” blog posts
(http://utsalibrariestopshelf.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/san-antonio-glbtq-publications-now-online/) for the UTSA Special Collections raise awareness, helping to spread the word about the digitalized materials and informing the local community about its history. OutHistory.org republished the blog about San Antonio's Drag Culture of the 1930s and ‘40s, thereby greatly expanding their audience, she said. “The numbers of views of this blog and others pertaining to LGBTQ materials have proved very popular, indicating an interest in such topics.”
Gohlke plans to write more about the history of San Antonio's gay and lesbian community, a goal she started when completing her thesis, “Out in the Alamo City: Revealing San Antonio's Gay and Lesbian Past, World War II to the 1990s.” She is currently working on research for the book version.
No arrests in Washington Blade thefts from distribution boxes
by Joe Siegel
Five months after the mass removal of the Washington Blade from distribution boxes around the District of Columbia, there has still been no arrest made.
Blade writer Lou Chibbaro told Press Pass Q that the Blade is proposing that the D.C. City Council pass legislation that would make it illegal to take more than just a few newspapers from a free distribution box. The legislation is modeled after similar laws that exist in Maryland and other states.
According to Chibbaro's Jan. 16 story, Blade publisher Lynne Brown said she and others had given the license plate number of a white Toyota Camry and a description of its driver to the police’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU). She had not heard back about whether police have traced the identity of the driver or owner of the car, Brown said.
Witnesses said the license plate on the car in question was a Maryland vanity plate with the letters “JS.”
“Theft of all bundles of Washington Blade newspapers from their street boxes around the city continues,” Brown told GLLU Officer Justin Markiewicz in a Jan. 10 e-mail. “It happens weekly. It happens in different neighborhoods. It most often happens, by eyewitness accounts, early Friday mornings.”
Brown said one or more suspects have been systematically breaking a clear plastic clip that holds a single issue of the Blade in the window of the distribution boxes, allowing readers to view the front page of the paper to find out when the new edition is delivered each Friday. She said the vandalism is continuing.
“The police have been polite and helpful,” Brown said. “However, the message has been this is a low, low level of priority.”
There were reports last September that boxes for the Blade and D.C.-based Metro Weekly were also being vandalized in the Dupont Circle, Logan Circle and 17th Street gay entertainment areas.
Blade Editor Kevin Naff told Press Pass Q there has been no change in the way the Blade is being distributed.
by Chuck Colbert
With an eye to the future, a Southern California publication has decided to publish its print version biweekly rather than every week. But the name will remain the same — San Diego LGBT Weekly.
As publisher Stampp Corbin explained earlier this year in an editorial, “Our website provides new information daily, which can be accessed through our mobile apps and the web, and our regular columnists will continue to write for us weekly. Meaning, one week you can access the columnists by going to LGBTweekly.com and the next week you will be able to read them online or in the print publication.”
He added, “Our brand is strong; the concept behind our brand remains the same: bringing our readers the best in news, entertainment and features on a daily and weekly basis. So, San Diego LGBT Weekly it will remain.”
The move to biweekly comes at a time of increasing reliance on digital platforms, with readers of many LGBT publications accessing information from websites and mobile apps. In San Diego, Corbin points to more than 30,000 unique local visitors to LGBTWeekly.com, along with more than 10,000 people who carry The Pride Card and use the LGBT Weekly mobile app. Other readers engage San Diego LGBT Weekly through Facebook and Twitter.
The Pride Card is an affinity card offering special discounts to cardholders from a diverse range of businesses such as coffee shops, bars and restaurants as well as hotels, pet stores and health and fitness outlets. The Pride Card is also available as an app for Android and iPhones.
The new biweekly publication will have more content and feature longer interviews, as well as more detailed news and entertainment, Corbin said.
“Our readers have responded very positively to our biweekly schedule,” explained Corbin in e-mail correspondence. “While I do not believe that print is dead, advertisers want a portfolio of products from a publisher so they can custom design their advertising strategy.”
On the business side, going biweekly has made the San Diego LGBT Weekly more profitable, said Corbin. “While advertising revenues initially took a hit, the hit was offset by significantly reduced printing and staffing costs.”
Going biweekly is “the best of all worlds,” said Corbin, “a solidly profitable media organization that can serve the San Diego LGBT community on multiple platforms into the future.”
So why not change the name? “We debated changing the name of the publication, but our brand is so strong we decided to stay with San Diego LGBT Weekly,” said Corbin. “Since people are accessing content daily through other parts of our portfolio, our readers have not made any comments about the name not being truly reflective of the distribution schedule. During the week that we do not publish a print edition, our columnists submit their weekly column on LGBTweekly.com.”
And yet, the front cover of the publication includes a banner that says "Biweekly Print Edition, Daily Updates at LGBTweekly.com."
Founded in 2010, the award-winning San Diego LGBT Weekly bills itself as “the only news organization that provides you in-depth analysis about our lives as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, our politics, our culture and our world,” with a mission “to inform and entertain the San Diego lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”
In 2011, San Diego LGBT Weekly won five awards from the San Diego Press Association. In 2012, the publication won an additional 10 awards.
The publication prints 7,000 copies, distributed every other Thursday throughout San Diego County. Its distribution stretches from Chula Vista to Escondido, from the beachfront to the inland valleys, including Hillcrest, University City and other Central City neighborhoods in which many LGBT San Diegans live.
A nationally recognized LGBT activist, Corbin served as co-chair of the 2008 Obama for America presidential campaign's National LGBT Leadership Council. He is also a former member of the board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign. Corbin blogs for the Huffington Post. Before its demise, he was a political reporter for the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Times.
Nashville newspaper changes its name and launches a new look
by Chuck Colbert
A Tennessee-based LGBT publication has a new name and a new look. Out & About Newspaper is now Out & About Nashville. The publication also has a new website.
"The rebranding is part of an overall revamp of the publication,” said publisher Jerry Jones. “We've changed with the times since we started more than 10 years ago, and this was consistent with that. We returned to our original name, Out & About Nashville, and shortened it to O&AN. We wanted a fresher more modern look, and one that reflected our in-depth coverage of the Nashville LGBT community."
Jones went on to discuss the overhaul of the digital property. “A new website, new look for our social media outlets and new initiatives to drive readers from social media back to our website, as well as our news alert e-mail product were all part of the digital overhaul,” he explained. “The BRANDagement at BNA Talent Group project managed the rebrand and relaunch, owned by Josh Robbins. Web programmer Ryan Huber headed up the redesign, which is running on a Drupal base. The new site is very robust, and features a new ad server system that allows many new features for our advertisers that we previously could not supply, including rich media banner ads and video ad integration.”
The newspaper’s print run varies between 12,000 and 15,000 per month, depending on the month. The publication is distributed to more than 150 sites throughout middle Tennessee, Knoxville, Memphis and Chattanooga. It is also the only LGBT publication that distributes in select Kroger and Harris Teeter grocery stores.
Out & About Nashville debuted in the fall of 2002 as a monthly newspaper designed to fill a growing need in the Nashville LGBT community.
Since then, it has grown to provide coverage of the LGBT community for all of Tennessee. With a target audience of more than 250,000 people, O&AN provides in-depth local news coverage along with political, business, feature, sports and entertainment stories.
"This only just the beginning of an exciting year of growth and change,” said publisher Jones. “We see a huge market in the digital arena and we’re looking forward to offering some very exciting products in that area in the very near future. We’ve got some very cool ideas that are in the development stage that we’re working on that will target a younger demographic to introduce them to our publication.”
O&AN has also been on the cutting edge of reporting. In late April, it was the first news outlet to break the story about the national HIV vaccine trial HVTN 505 to discontinue immunizations, citing sources close to the situation after O&AN obtained a letter to HVTN 505 participants. The Associated Press and all major international and national media outlets later reported the story.
by Chuck Colbert
A national directory of LGBT resources has achieved a significant milestone, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, with Gayellow Pages 35th annual print edition released this past March.
Gayellow Pages is a directory of resources, both businesses and organizations, including accommodations, bars, restaurants, bookstores, doctors, lawyers, organizations, florists, churches — pretty much everything except escort services.
Gayellow Pages — note the spelling with only one “y” — is not to be confused with various local directories, which may go by the names of Gay Yellow Pages, Rainbow Community Pages, Pink Pages or Gay and Lesbian Community Pages.
"We include a national resources section as well as the local listings," said Frances Green, founder and publisher of Gayellow Pages since 1973.
Asked what Gayellow Pages provides to the LGBT community, she said, “The Internet is both curse and blessing as there are masses of information out there, but it has to be checked. Some resources are more accurate than others. I exchange information with the LGBT National Help Center, which maintains a pretty comprehensive online guide.”
And while accuracy and verification are the publication's strong suits, Green readily acknowledges the importance of such a print and online resource may be waning.
"I am not sure how important it is these days," Green explained. "Print [on demand] volume is small. A few bookstores stock it, but ‘our’ bookstores are very thin on the ground these days. Some libraries have it, and we do some mail order, so evidently there's still some demand. And print-on-demand technology makes it very easy. I wish I'd caught on earlier! Online, well, we're not very high traffic. There are plenty of local resources and travel guides. It's a labor of love now, and was never very profitable."
The Gayellow Pages print edition is $25, a CD version is $10, and the online version, which is updated monthly and can be read online but downloading is recommended, is free.
The publication can be ordered directly from its website www.gayellowpages.com. It is also available from Amazon.com.
New York City-based Renaissance House publishes Gayellow Pages.
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