Sunday, December 29, 2013

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

(What’s happening at your publication? Let us know at editor@presspassq.com.)

BAY TIMES, based in San Francisco, celebrated 35 years of publication with its Nov. 14, 2013, issue.

COURTNEY BEDELL is the new writer for Baltimore-based GAY LIFE. She will be writing the newspaper’s monthly advice column covering all aspects of transgender life.

SARAH BLAZUCKI, former editor of PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS, was elected treasurer of UNITY: JOURNALISTS FOR DIVERSITY, an umbrella organization that includes the NATIONAL LESBIAN AND GAY JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION.

BLEU MAGAZINE, based in New York City, recently celebrated its seventh anniversary. In the same issue, the magazine unveiled BOMBSHELL BY BLEU, a female-focused publication edited by SUMMER ALEXANDER.

LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN, founding editor of Atlanta-based GA VOICE, is stepping down after three and a half years. She will be replaced by DAVID AARON MOORE. Douglas-Brown will remain a co-owner and advisor to the newspaper.

NANCY FORD and her column “What a World,” which formerly ran in Houston-based OUTSMART magazine, can now be read in Houston’s MONTROSE STAR newspaper. Ford helped found OUTSMART in 1994, where she served as senior editor since 2006. She left that position in January 2013.

GAY.COM has lunched its new mobile app available for Apple devices. Gay.com’s new Apple mobile app is now available for free download through the Apple App Store

GAY CALGARY MAGAZINE, based in Calgary, Alberta, marked its 10th anniversary with its November 2013 issue.

MORGAN H. HURLEY is the new editor, and the first female editor, of GAY SAN DIEGO. Former editor ANTHONY KING left to take a position with the School of International Relations at UC San Diego.

DOUG IRELAND, a longtime LGBT rights advocate whose work appeared in publications such as POZ MAGAZINE, THE VILLAGE VOICE and NEW YORK MAGAZINE died Oct. 26, 2013, at the age of 67. Since 2005, he served as international contributing editor to New York City-based GAY CITY NEWS.

MICHAEL KOHL, a former advertising manager at BALTIMORE GAY PAPER, died suddenly on Oct. 12, 2013, at the age of 48.

LESBIAN NEWS, based in Torrance, Calif., celebrated its 39th anniversary with its August 2013 issue.

DAN MCEVILY, longtime writer for Baltimore-based GAY LIFE, is the newspaper’s new editor. He takes over for MAGGIE BEETZ, who leaves to take a position in marketing with Center Stage, the city’s largest professional producing theater.

OUTWORD MAGAZINE, based in Sacramento, Calif, entered its 19th year of publication with its Aug. 22, 2013, issue.

QUEST MAGAZINE, based in Green Bay, Wisc., celebrated 20 years of publication with its December 2013 issue.

SAN DIEGO LGBT WEEKLY recently earned 11 awards from the San Diego Press Club, bringing its total to 26 awards for excellence in journalism in the last three years. This year, the newspaper was honored with the following awards:
First Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, Commentary
First Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, History
First Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, Political/Government
First Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, Reviews in Arts and Entertainment
Second Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, Feature Layout Design
Second Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, General News
Second Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, Profile
Third Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, Arts and Entertainment Reporting
Third Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, Front Page Design
Third Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, Investigative Reporting
Third Place: Non-Daily Newspapers, Feature

WISCONSIN GAZETTE, based in Milwaukee, celebrated its fourth anniversary with its Nov. 14, 2013, issue.

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES
Volume 15
Issue 9

Thursday, December 12, 2013

LA's Frontiers emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy

by Chuck Colbert

A Southern California-based LGBT publication concluded a nearly nine-month period of Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the purchase of Frontiers Media by Michael A. Turner, a Los Angeles investment banker.

Turner, who is gay, has created a new company.

Judge Richard M. Neiter of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California approved on December 5 “sale of substantially all the assets of Frontiers Media to New Frontier Media Holdings, a Delaware limited liability company,” according to The Shinbrot Firm, a bankruptcy specialty law firm, based in Beverly Hills. The judge’s order is pursuant to U.S.C. Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code.

The purchase price was $361,000 with $140,000 going to Wells Fargo and $95,000 going to Frontiers Publishing, both creditors, said publisher and former owner of Frontiers, David Stern.

Reached by phone after court approval, Stern, who will stay on as publisher, voiced relief with the outcome.

“This is a very good thing,” he said. “It means we are going to be out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Frontiers, as a brand and a resource for the LGBT community, will be much stronger.

Stern declined to discuss future plans in any detail but said Frontiers would continue its commitment to cover news and entertainment.

“I’ve been in LGBT media for 26 years and have been a publisher first of IN Los Angeles Magazine and then Frontiers for 15 of those years, so I’m grateful that Michael Turner sees value in my history and what I bring to the table,” said Stern. “I’m very proud of the team at Frontiers and, even in the wake of a Chapter 11, we were able to band together and produce an amazing Lesbian & Gay Wedding Expo that was a huge success.”

Founded in 1981, Los Angeles-based Frontiers Magazine is the oldest and largest circulation LGBT publication serving Southern California. It is distributed free of charge primarily in San Diego, Long Beach, Palm Springs and West Hollywood.

Published biweekly, the magazine distributes 30,000 copies free of charge. In West Hollywood (population 35,000), a city in which an estimated 40 percent of the population identifies as gay, Frontiers distributes 9,700 copies, in effect giving the publication a local-angle focus.

For some time now, however, Frontiers Media has struggled financially, and the company filed for bankruptcy protection on March 6, 2013.

At that time, Frontiers Media reported liabilities of $3.2 million and assets of $342,00, with only $58,000 in cash.

“Mark Hundahl and I, as the publishers of IN Publications Inc., purchased Frontiers in 2007 when the landscape of media looked quite different,” Stern said in a March press statement. “With the passing of Mark in December 2012, I felt this was the right time to restructure the debt of Frontiers Media so we could remain a strong and viable resource for
the LGBT community.”

Frontiers Publishing, LLC, is the company from which IN Publications Inc, owned by Stern and Hundahl, bought the magazine in 2007.

Todd Evans of Rivendell Media, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian ad placement firm, offered an observation on the resolution of the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy status.

“Frontiers has always been a tried and true LGBT publication in Los Angeles, and we hope that continues to be the case with the new owner/investor," he said in an email. "It seems so many of the financial problems with media have everything to do with their debt before the financial crisis which led to their inability to refinance or restructure properly to take advantage of lower (and affordable) interest rates. Today, while so many costs have gone up, quite a few have come down significantly, with service businesses such as ourselves, in providing a national advertising sales force, or the now-almost free readership surveys Community Marketing provides to publications — both costly items if you were to do on your own.  Technology is also helping too, and it seems the advertising world is coming home to the fact that print is not dead nor is digital advertising supreme, and all these things bode well for the future of Frontiers and gay media in general." (Evans is also publisher of Press Pass Q.)

Frontiers news editor Karen Ocamb, a staple of the publication for years, offered another point of view.

“I trust David Stern, and while I do not know him yet, I've heard only good things about new investor Michael Turner,” she said in an email. “Both have a profound understanding of Frontiers as an LGBT institution in Southern California and Frontiers' commitment to our LGBT and HIV communities. Additionally, the professionalism and artistry of the magazine has deepened — along with extra publications such as the Frontiers Wedding Guide created for the recent successful Wedding Expo. We are no longer the ‘bar rag’ of old. I am proud to say that our magazine is of the highest quality, and I really look forward to what this new beginning will bring.”

For his part, Turner said, “For close to 32 years, Frontiers has been a leading resource and staple for the LGBT community. I'm thrilled that the court has approved the sale of the assets into what will become New Frontiers Media Holdings LLC. I'm looking forward to participating in keeping this brand a strong resource for our community.” 

Turner has 25 years of experience providing private equity, financial advisory, transaction and valuation services. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado and an MBA from the University of Southern California with an emphasis on finance and real estate. He resides in Los Angeles and New York.

IN THE NEWS
Volume 15
Issue 9

Texas gets new statewide LGBT publication, Lone Star Q

by Chuck Colbert

A former editor at the only LGBT weekly in Texas, fired more than two months ago, is moving on. John Wright, who served as Dallas Voice senior editor from 2012 to September 2013, has launched Lone Star Q, an online gay media outlet.

In announcing the new online-only publication last month, Wright stated, “During my seven years as a reporter and editor at Dallas Voice, it became clear that what Texas really needs is a statewide, online LGBT news and information source.”

Wright points to Texas as the nation’s second most populous state (26 million people) and its decidedly conservative red-state status as reason enough for a statewide LGBT news source. 

As he noted on Nov. 19 in an online post: “The LGBT community has no statewide protections against discrimination and zero relationship recognition at the state level in Texas. Part of the challenge is geography. The big cities where LGBT people tend to gravitate are so spread out that it hampers communication and information-sharing among activists and organizations. Dallas has a weekly newspaper. Houston has a monthly magazine. San Antonio and Austin have web sites. But other areas, from El Paso to East Texas, have essentially nothing, and no media outlet consistently and thoroughly reports on issues affecting the LGBT community statewide, including the state’s executive, judicial and legislative branches. Lone Star Q is designed to fill that void by becoming a centralized clearinghouse for LGBT news and information across the Lone Star State.”

During a recent telephone interview, Wright said he hopes Lone Star Q fills “a void and need,” adding, “I am excited, giving it a whirl, and hoping for the best. But I also realize the challenge of the digital marketplace and revenues.” In all, “I think Lone Star Q can play an important role in the struggle for equality in Texas.”

As Wright explained in his posting, “One thing I’ve learned covering the LGBT movement is that communication and education — within the community, among allies and even among opponents — are critical to achieving equality. From transgender protections at both Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Dallas County, to a fully inclusive anti-bullying policy at the Dallas Independent School District, my reporting at Dallas Voice served as a catalyst for change. With your help, Lone Star Q can do so too — and on a larger playing field.”

For now, he said over the telephone, Lone Star Q would be exclusively digital. “There’s a great [mainstream] publication called Texas Tribune that was launched several years ago,” Wright explained. “I envision Lone Star Q as an LGBT version of Texas Tribune, which does a tremendous job of statewide news, mostly political.”

Based for now in Dallas, Wright “ideally” hopes to add stringers from various metropolitan areas, including Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.

Coverage will be a blend of local and state news and politics, with some national reporting but only as it pertains to Texas, said Wright.

Nonetheless, when Texas lawmakers again go into session next year, Wright may relocate to Austin, the state capital. “Every two years when the legislature meets, nobody’s covering the LGBT stuff,” he said.

Asked about his untimely departure from Dallas Voice, Wright said that the matter is behind him. In establishing Lone Star Q, he said, “I am moving on in the next chapter of my career,” even as “I apply a lot of the experience I got at Dallas Voice.”

Back in September, Wright alleged, in a Facebook posting and through local Texas media, that his ouster stemmed from “doing journalism” by reporting on a dress-code ban on nudity at Dallas Pride. Wright claimed that parade organizers were angered by his reporting of the nudity ban and put pressure on Dallas Voice publisher Leo Cusimano, who in turned let him go.

“Organizers of the parade are among the Voice’s biggest advertisers, and they [were] not at all happy when this [dress code story] became a national story. They blamed me for it,” Wright wrote in a Facebook posting that has been subsequently deleted.

For his part, Voice publisher Cusimano told The Dallas Observer that the firing was “an internal employee matter.” 

Wright “has his opinions, and we have ours,” explained Cusimano, who also said the “wall between editorial and advertising was put in place by my direction [as advertising director], and is still in place and is very strong.”

Over the past five years or so, Dallas Voice has had a series of firings in addition to Wright’s, including senior editor Tammye Nash in 2012, staff writer/editor David Webb in 2008, and arts/lifestyle editor Daniel Kusner in 2009.

In email correspondence and over the telephone, Webb (who is also a writer for Press Pass Q) said that his termination resulted from “the publication's pressing need to fill my position because I was unable to work due to a long recovery from surgery after an accident.”   

Unlike the others terminated, however, Webb continued to freelance for Dallas Voice for some time.

IN THE NEWS
Volume 15
Issue 9

Dallas’ Voice Publishing rebrands gay yellow pages directory as OUT North Texas, part of move toward magazine format

by David Webb

Voice Publishing LLC, based in Dallas, is revamping its traditional gay yellow pages directory to a “glossy, full-color, slick magazine with a dynamic LGBT visitors guide” for Dallas-Fort Worth that will include a business directory, a relocation guide and a new name.

Publisher Leo A. Cusimano said the redo includes a new name for the publication to enhance its presentation to the LGBT community. Formerly known as the Dallas Voice Yellow Pages, the rebranded publication will be called OUT North Texas.

“The name change to OUT North Texas was to help build a stronger, more vibrant, more relevant publication,” Cusimano said. “We also wanted to get out of the yellow pages genre and position ourselves as an extensive LGBT visitors guide with a comprehensive business directory.”

The overhaul and rebranding of the yellow pages allowed OUT North Texas to become the official LGBT visitors guide endorsed by the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cusimano noted. The new name also gave the publication a new emphasis in the LGBT market, he said.

“‘Out’ is a word that resonates in the LGBT community, and it is also a word to designate going out, which works well for the visitors,” Cusimano said.

Cusimano said reaction to the name change and the new design is favorable. “In both camps – our readership and our advertisers – we have heard positive feedback to help us move forward,” he said. “On the readership side, using a traditional yellow page booklet is a thing of the past. The advertisers love the glossy, bigger format to display their offerings.”

OUT North Texas advertising sales have already surpassed Dallas Voice Yellow Pages sales figures in the first year, even though advertising salespeople had no product to show prospective customers, Cusimano said. The yellow pages had begun to experience a slow decline in sales, he said.

“Our expectation for OUT North Texas is rapid growth,” Cusimano said. “Once we have the magazine in hand to sell from, we expect sales will elevate and reverse the downward sales pattern.”

Cusimano said the concept of rebranding Dallas Voice Yellow Pages to OUT North Texas began in May with the realization that magazines appear to be more attractive to readers and more effective for advertisers. Publishing statistics show that magazines fare better than traditional newspapers these days in terms of circulation and revenue, and the goal is to transform all of the company’s publications to a magazine format, he said.

“I understand business ownership to be about vision, direction and leadership,” said Cusimano, who became publisher in April. He went to work for the newspaper in 1992 and led its advertising department for two decades before purchasing it along with the publication’s president, Terry Thompson, from Dallas Voice founder Robert Moore. “My vision is to move us into a magazine format.”

Thompson, who is an equal business partner with Cusimano, agreed that advertisers are excited about the new publication, and he said that he expects readers to be delighted with the product as well. OUT North Texas will become a “handy resource, a reference book for all things gay in our area of the world,” he said.

“Dallas Voice has been around for 30 years,” Thompson said. “That’s longer than most of our clients. And that kind of staying power means a confidence in our business model, and how well we execute our finished products.”

The evolution of Dallas Voice from its traditional newspaper format began about two years ago when it switched from a front-page newspaper format to a tabloid cover page highlighting a major news story and a lifestyle article inside. Dallas Voice now publishes a glossy cover about four times a year for special editions, and Cusimano said he wants to increase that number in 2014.

The Internet revolution has changed publishing significantly, and readers depend more on websites to get information about breaking news stories, Cusimano said. Studies show that readers are more likely to refer to a magazine from a website than any other type of publication, he said.

A redesign is planned for Dallas Voice next year for the publication’s 30-year anniversary to move it closer to a magazine format, and within about five years Cusimano said he would like to see the publication completely transformed to a magazine with a new page size with bright white pages throughout it. Dallas Voice has undergone numerous redesigns over the decades, but it has always been published in the size of most alternative tabloid publications.

Cusimano said a glossy magazine would be more reflective of Dallas’ LGBT community, thereby appealing to it more. “The Dallas LGBT community is glitzy and glamorous and focused on quality,” he said. “A glossy magazine is the ideal direction to meet this market’s needs.”

Voice Publishing launched Dallas Voice Yellow Pages in 2008 after purchasing its predecessor, DFW Lambda Pages, from Todd Cunningham of Angle Media in 2006 and publishing it for two years under the original name. At the time of the purchase, there were three yellow pages being distributed on the street.

“We wanted to continue the efforts of publishing a directory specifically for the LGBT community,” Cusimano said. “We wanted to make our mark. Our efforts at Dallas Voice had positioned us well to change the landscape. We took a different approach, creating an integrated product. Today, we have our print product, but we also have an online and mobile version as well.”

Today, Voice Publishing is positioning itself as a media company with several ways to reach the LGBT community, rather than being “pigeonholed as a newspaper,” Cusimano said. The media company is utilizing print and online publishing, e-mail blasts and mobile technology to distribute news, in addition to the new publication OUT North Texas, he said.

Lambda Pages originally was founded by Kay Christian in 1992 who sold it to Cummingham. The 21-year-old yellow pages publication is now in its third rebranding with the new name.

Dallas Voice published its first issue May 11, 1984, beginning a steady rise to prominence as the LGBT publication of record in Texas. Founder Moore retired this year when he sold the company to Cusimano and Thompson.

IN THE NEWS
Volume 15
Issue 9

San Francisco newspaper running up its BARtab by beefing up adult content

by Chuck Colbert

Pony up to the BAR — the Bay Area Reporter and its special nightlife section, that is. There is something for everyone — spirits, society, leather, porn, sex, romance, personals, kink and a whole lot more.

At a time when many LGBT publications have discontinued adult-content sections, San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter (BAR) is bucking a trend. Not only is the publication’s adult-content nightlife section alive and kicking, but it’s now weekly, averaging 12 pages and, at times for different holidays, running up to 16 pages.

BARtab is one of BAR’s three sections. The other two are news and arts and culture.

For a short time, BARtab was a stand-alone monthly glossy, said editor Jim Provenzano during a recent telephone interview. “But this little glossy was too expensive,” he said.

Accordingly, “After giving it a good try,” added BAR publisher Michael Yamashita over the telephone, “we decided to fold it back into the paper as a stand-alone publication.”

With that move, BARtab, which premiered in May 2010 as a monthly glossy, switched to a newsprint-third section, on Sept. 26, 2013, for the Folsom Street Fair issue.

Also, with a publication run at the beginning of each month, calendar listings that far out became problematic. “Many people don’t know what they are doing three weeks out, let alone a month,” Provenzano explained.

“Trying to predict what would happen three weeks out," said Yamashita, in “trying to corral all the press releases, was very difficult. It was comprehensive but not as we would have liked it. So we thought we could get that edge back in a weekly section, but also by separating more of the nightlife from arts and culture” where ads and content “would be more general entertainment” such as “film, theatre and books.”

Separating out arts and culture from nightlife in BARtab gave both sections a “clearer identity,” he said. "This is really about meeting the needs of some of our advertisers with policies that do not allow them to place ad content next to or in adult-content sections," Yamashita added.

“Part of our struggle is that we don’t want to say ‘no’ to adult content,” he explained. “In the gay and lesbian community that’s part of our identity, and we are not about to start denying that. So we make no apology for having adult content. But at the same time, we want to work with everyone. A lot of Fortune 500 companies and others get squeamish about being next to adult-content oriented ads, so there was always a hesitation on their part and would disqualify us getting ad buys.”

BARtab’s editorial content focuses on the clubs and cabaret scene, which often includes drag-queen performances and go-go dancers. Reviews of current porn films are included. And the "On the Tab" section of BARtab features an expansive weekly calendar listing.

Additionally, "BARtab has covered the closing of gay bars, as well as the openings, and run pieces on the cultural shifts in the Bay Area,” said Provenzano.

BARtab's new regular columnists include Scott Brogan, who covers the leather and kink scene. John F. Karr continues his saucy reviews of adult films with a peppering of social commentary. Social butterfly and Imperial Court royalty Donna Sachet's biweekly "On the Town" column covers galas, benefits and festive LGBT community events. Jim Stewart serves as the section's monthly BARchive columnist, providing never-published rare photos and stories of the 1970s gay bar scene. Other BARchive columnists have included author/editor Dr. Jack Fritscher and comic Marga Gomez.

All of which is to say BARtab is not so much bucking an assimilationist culture of techies and hipsters in San Francisco. Rather, BARtab’s editor sees a merging of cultures. “I’m not fine with that,” said Provenzano, referring to any number of gay establishments going straight, at the same time he laments the closing of gay bookstores and other LGBT establishments in gay enclaves of the city.

“But I still want to go to a show where drag queens and leathermen can hang out and people can be affectionate and not feel threatened,” he added. “So promoting that and getting paid to do it is great.”

In addition to editing BARtab, Provenzano serves as assistant arts editor at BAR. He was the publication's freelance sports columnist for 10 years. He is also the author of four novels, including the Lambda Literary Award winner “Every Time I Think of You.” 

IN THE NEWS
Volume 15
Issue 9

Friday, December 6, 2013

TOP STORY: Same-sex wedding survey supplies critical data to publishers and editors


Offers information for use in connecting LGBT media with wedding industry businesses
by Chuck Colbert

New Jersey, Hawaii and Illinois are the newest states where same-sex marriage is now legal or will be next spring. And just as state lawmakers and a court decision recently ushered in marriage-equality there, so a newly released marketing study of same-sex couples sheds light on the growing, if not booming, lesbian and gay wedding industry — along with implications for publishers and editors in LGBT media.

The study, conducted by San Francisco-based Community Marketing Insights (CMI) and The Gay Wedding Institute, surveyed 916 same-sex couples nationwide. Conducted August-September 2013, the online survey took 10 minutes to complete. Results were released last month in a 38-page report, “Same-Sex Couples: Weddings and Engagements.”

From the survey, 57 percent were married, 19 percent in domestic partnerships, 18 percent engaged, with five percent in civil unions. A majority of respondents were from California (29 percent), Massachusetts (17 percent) and New York (16 percent).

“This breakthrough study is the widest-reaching ever of same-sex couples and reflects the diversity of our community — from those who eloped at city hall to those who had a more formal celebration,” said David Paisley, CMI’s senior research director.

“What we learned is fascinating and would be of interest to anyone involved in the wedding industry,” said Bernadette Coveney Smith, president of The Gay Wedding Institute. “By and large, same-sex couples are quite non-traditional, especially gay grooms. We learned that the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ haven’t quite caught on with much of our community, and how important it is for wedding professionals to have inclusive language and photos in their marketing materials.”

In all, it seems that language really does matter.

According to survey results, only about half of same-sex couples use the words “husband” or “wife.” Overall, the couples prefer to use “spouse” and “partner,” perhaps because husband/wife is a relatively new concept within the LGBT community.

Also of note, the survey found that “the economic impact of same-sex couples legally married is three times greater than those receiving a civil union or domestic partnership because married couples are far more likely to have receptions with guests or their receptions have a greater number of guests.”

In other findings, female couples spend more on weddings than male same-sex couples — 15 percent more for those already married. At the same time, women are more likely to embrace “wedding ceremony traditions” than men.

Another interesting finding: Only 24 percent of same-sex marrying couples ask a religious leader to solemnize their weddings, with only 12 percent holding wedding ceremonies at a religiously-affiliated location.

As veteran journalist Lisa Keen noted in her reporting for Keen News Services, “It’s not clear, of course, whether the low percentages are due to an existing religious exemption or the choice of the same-sex couples, but a separate study this year that surveyed brides in heterosexual couples found that 61 percent used a member of the clergy to officiate and 35 percent held their ceremony in a religious setting.”

Oddly enough, Keen notes, “Each time a state legislature debates a marriage equality bill, as Hawaii and Illinois did [last] month, a significant amount of time is spent wrestling over how big a loophole to provide for religious clergy and entities to refuse services to same-sex couples.”

The CMI/Wedding Institute survey comes just months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and restored same-sex marriage in California. There, same-sex couples were banned from marrying when voters in the fall of 2008 adopted Proposition 8.

In Southern California, survey results were released at the same time Frontiers Media produced its inaugural Lesbian and Gay Wedding Exposition, held downtown at the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Nov. 10.

Frontiers news editor Karen Ocamb, who reported on the event, offered her assessment of the study and its usefulness to gay media and beyond.

"The CMI survey came out just as I was writing my piece on the very successful Wedding Expo produced by Frontiers Media, so rather than influencing the story or event, it provided interesting corollary data,” she said.

“I hope the survey inspires others to produce similar expos with LGBT and LGBT-friendly businesses because there is an incredible need and hunger for this information — especially since, in many cases, the couples don't even realize all the details that go into wedding planning, including the expense and the importance of cultural competence,” said Ocamb. “While the survey suggests that only about half of same-sex couples prefer the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife,’ in my reporting on marriage equality over the years I found that those terms are profoundly important and represent equality to those for whom the dream of a traditional marriage was something they thought they had to forego when they came out. It's imperative that a culturally competent wedding planner understand these significant nuances." 

However, Trenton-based Out in Jersey publisher Peter Frycki offered a lukewarm response to the study’s findings.

“The results seem to solidify that there is not a gold mine to extract dollars from,” he said. Here in New Jersey, Frycki explained, “Marriage equality went in fits and starts from domestic partnerships then to civil unions and now marriage,” so “it seems couples never had the whole enchilada to celebrate fully. Older couples had to overcome obstacles. Therefore, many couples had mostly small incremental celebrations.”

Still, he said, “Time will tell as we move ahead in 2014 and the younger folks celebrate full equal status in New Jersey.”

Civil unions took effect in the Garden State in February 2007. Same-sex marriage has been legal there since October 21, 2013, because of a court ruling, which invalidated the state's restriction of issuing marriage licenses only to opposite-sex couples.

In Illinois, Tracy Baim, publisher and executive editor of Chicago-based Windy City Times, said, “We have seen an uptick since civil unions became law two years ago, and for sure expect more coming up.”

And yet, she added, “We make sure people don't think this is an easy market to just throw an ad at, so we have many ways for them to advertise across many price levels. We have a quarterly wedding guide already in place, so we will keep that going in 2014.”

For his part, Todd Evans of Rivendell Media offered an assessment on the connection between the wedding industry and the potential for LGBT publications in expanding their local advertising bases. "Same-sex weddings have the opportunity to really help local gay media because the wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is mostly comprised of local service businesses," he said, referring to wedding planners, catering halls, florists, jewelry stores and gift shops.

"I know when Massachusetts was the first state with legal gay marriage, [Boston-based] Bay Windows really saw a business boom at the time. It all depends, of course, on how well the local sales staff sells the idea," added Evans, who is also publisher of Press Pass Q.

Perhaps the most creative approach is at Philadelphia Gay News (PGN), which reaches into New Jersey and Delaware.

“The results did not really surprise us,” said Dan Calhoun, PGN’s director of marketing and advertising. “They were fairly on par with what we had expected.”

Nonetheless, PGN has taken a longer-view approach to the wedding industry and its capacity for ad revenues — even story lines.

“PGN started a wedding issue in the fall of 2011. It didn’t do well. It was the first time we were contacting this group of advertisers, who hadn’t heard of us before and they didn’t see a reason to advertise specifically to the LGBT community,” explained Calhoun. “Four months later, in the spring of 2012, we tried again. This time we explained the rapid growth in the market to potential advertisers and that our readers are traveling to neighboring New Jersey and Delaware to get married, in addition to our readers already living in those areas, and that they serve as a new market for them to tap into. We also started explaining that advertising directly to the LGBT community lets them know that the community is welcome in their establishments, and they won’t have to worry about being discriminated against on their special day and leading up to it. The result, our LGBT Wedding Issue, has become our fourth-largest issue of the year and has grown every year since its inception. Editorial support in the wedding issue ensures that this is more than an advertising gimmick, but an emerging market for advertisers to tap into.”

And that's not all for PGN:

“Due to the growth of this issue and interest in LGBT weddings, the editorial, marketing and sales teams have brainstormed well in advance for our next LGBT wedding issue,” Calhoun explained. “Current plans include following the journey of our recently engaged editor, Jen Colletta, on her wedding planning; stronger marketing efforts to have our readers let us know about their wedding announcements; and we are in the early stages of planning various contests for engaged readers to win free wedding services in physical challenges. Our hope is that this will create a bigger buzz for this issue and give advertisers a better response, while creating great photo ops for story coverage for our readers.”

Meanwhile, it's an Aloha state of mind in Hawaii where same-sex marriages began on Dec. 2 in the nation's newest marriage equality state.

Ed Walsh traveled to Hawaii several weeks ago to celebrate the advent of gay marriage, reporting for San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter. In a Nov. 28 article ("Hawaii gears up for same-sex marriage”), he noted, "Maui has long been one of the most popular wedding destinations in the world and business leaders on the island hope that will translate into gays flocking to the Aloha State to tie the knot."

TOP STORY
Volume 15
Issue 9