Monday, November 26, 2018

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

What's happening at your publication? Let us know. Email editor Fred Kuhr at editor@presspassq.com

AMBUSH MAGAZINE, based in New Orleans, celebrated its 36th anniversary in its October 9, 2018, issue.

ECHO's Amy Young
LEWIS COVINGTON, a former writer with now-defunct Atlanta publication ETC, passed away on September 6, 2018, from cardiac-related causes. He was 66.

ECHO, based in Phoenix, Ariz., announced that AMY YOUNG is the magazine’ new managing editor. She replaces KJ PHILIP, who will continue to contribute to the publication.

THE FIGHT SF, the Los Angeles publication’s San Francisco edition, announced that BRENDAN SHUCART is its inaugural editor.

THE MIRROR, based in Wilton Manors, Fla., and published by SOUTH FLORIDA GAY NEWS, introduced its new logo and branding in its September 2018 issue.

THE FIGHT SF's
Brendan Shucart
RAGE MONTHLY, based in San Diego, Calif., launched its Palm Springs edition in October 2018. It already publishes San Diego and Orange/Los Angeles Counties editions.

PRIZM, based in Columbus, Ohio, celebrated its first anniversary in its September 2018 issue.

SOUTH FLORIDA GAY NEWS publisher NORM KENT won a second place award for Investigative Reporting in the FLORIDA PRESS ASSOCIATION’s annual competition in August 2018. The story, “The Rise and Fall of the FLORIDA AGENDA,” explored the collapse of that media company.

THE WASHINGTON BLADE launched its yearlong celebration leading up to next October’s 50th anniversary of the D.C.-based newspaper. To start, the newspaper unveiled its new 50th anniversary logo in the October 19, 2018, issue.

WINDY CITY TIMES, based in Chicago, entered its 34th year of publishing with its September 26, 2018, issue.

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES
Volume 20
Issue 8

LGBT papers work fast to cover midterm results

by Joe Siegel

The recent midterm elections were notable for the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives and the victories of several LGBT candidates. LGBT publications, especially weeklies, were under the gun to provide coverage of the major races. Some adjusted their schedules to provide the most timely coverage.

“At the top of the ballot, ally Beto O’Rourke came up just short in his epic bid to unseat incumbent Republican — and notoriously anti-gay U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz,” reported the Dallas Voice. “Three LGBT candidates for U.S. House seats — Lorie Burch, Gina Ortiz Jones and Eric Holguin — also came up short, although both Burch and Jones pulled in well over 40 percent of the vote in their races.”

Houston's OutSmart, just before
the midterm elections
In Chicago, “From Democrat J.B. Pritzker dethroning Republican Bruce Rauner in the Illinois gubernatorial race to Colorado's Jared Polis becoming the first openly gay man elected governor in the United States, a sea change took place at the polls,” reported Windy City Times. 

“Pritzker — whose cousin Jennifer is transgender — pledged his support for the LGBT community early on, frequently citing his mother's support of LGBT rights as his inspiration. Shortly before the primaries, he told Windy City Times that, ‘We've got to stop the rise of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. We've got to pass budgets that fund programs like the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, PrEP for Illinois, HIV testing, anti-bullying initiatives, and health and safety programs in the LGBTQ community. The budget of the state of Illinois is a moral document that speaks to the values of our government. The values of our government ought to be standing up for the LGBTQ community.’”

Windy City Times publishes its election guides the two weeks before an election, explained executive editor Andrew Davis. “We don't endorse, but we send questionnaires to every candidate; those that are returned are scored, and we also include the endorsements of certain organizations, such as HRC and Chicago NOW.”

Between The Lines, based in Livonia, Mich., reported the boost in gay representation in Congress. “Three gay and lesbian non-incumbent candidates — Angie Craig in Minnesota, Chris Pappas in New Hampshire and Sharice Davids in Kansas — were confirmed the winners Tuesday night in the bid for seats in the U.S. House amid ‘blue’ victories that propelled Democrats to take control of the chamber."

“Another candidate who’s bisexual, Katie Hill in California, appeared to have beaten incumbent Rep. Steve Knight in her bid to represent her state’s 25th congressional district in the House, but those results were close and weren’t declared as of Wednesday morning,” the Michigan paper noted.

South Florida Gay News’ (SFGN) headline was “LGBT Advocates Celebrate Democrats Winning House.”

According to the paper’s reporting, “Topping the list for what LGBT rights supporters were expecting from the House with Democrats in control was oversight of the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT policies and advancement of the Equality Act. Sarah McBride, a transgender advocate and spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, identified the Equality Act as a top priority with Democrats finally in control of the House.”

SFGN Editor Jason Parsley said the paper “went to print on Wednesday instead of Tuesday night in order to be able to include some election coverage. We do this during presidential and midterm elections.” 

TOP STORY
Volume 20
Issue 8

Florida’s Watermark now in the film business

by Fred Kuhr

The owner of Watermark, based in Orlando, Fla., has created a film company, with plans for a documentary called “Greetings From Queertown: Orlando” already in the works.

Watermark Film Company was launched by Watermark Publishing Group owner Rick Claggett “as a way to create, produce and distribute films that inform and educate audiences on the LGBTQ experience,” according to a press release.

Already, the film’s first trailer was unveiled at a private fundraising event at in Orlando over the summer.

“Greetings From Queertown: Orlando” will look at Orlando’s LGBTQ community from its early beginnings to its place in one of the most progressive cities in the U.S., according to the company.

“In the wake of Pulse, this community came together to be ‘Orlando Strong,’” said Claggett. “But I wanted to know, where did this story begin? Who were the pioneers? This documentary will answer those questions.”

“Greetings from Queertown: Orlando” looks to explore the pivotal moments in Central Florida’s LGBT story. Events in the film will include the launch of the LGBT+ Center of Central Florida, the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Orlando, the beginning of Gay Day at Magic Kingdom, the first LGBT Pride parade held downtown and the tragedy at Pulse.

The documentary will film these stories as told by Orlando’s LGBTQ leaders, innovators, activists and entertainers who lived it, according to the company.

“The idea originally started when I saw the ABC miniseries ‘When We Rise,’” said Claggett. “After watching that show I thought, ‘Who were the people on our frontlines here in Central Florida fighting for LGBTQ rights and equality?’”

The film’s trailer features interviews with Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, drag performer Darcel Stevens, Watermark founder Tom Dyer, and Florida House Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

While “Queertown” is Watermark’s first film endeavor, producer and director Sandi Hulon has been working in video production for 15 years. Claggett said the company will continue to use film as a medium to tell stories. “We’ve been a part of telling the story of this community forever, it’s just logical that this is the next progression in it. It’s the future of what we do,” Claggett said.

The film is now in its fundraising stage, according to Watermark, with a goal of raising $200,000. Perks include a Facebook thank you post, a digital download of the film or VIP seats at the film’s premiere.

There currently isn’t a release date, but Claggett said he’s hoping to debut it at a film festival within the next year.

For more information on “Greetings From Queertown: Orlando, go to GreetingsFromQueertown.com.

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 8

OUT, Advocate owners defend donation to anti-gay Republican

by Fred Kuhr

Stepbrothers Adam Levin and Maxx Abramowitz, who now own OUT magazine and The Advocate under the umbrella of their new holding company PRIDE Media, came under fire recently for donating to anti-gay Republican - and just defeated - California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Women’s Wear Daily - under the headline “OUT Magazine, PRIDE Media Rife With Challenges for New Editor” - reported in September that the brothers, who also are the leadership team behind pro-cannabis High Times Magazine, supported Rohrabacher, who only this year said it should be legal for realtors to refuse to sell homes to LGBT people.

Editorially, High Times also praised Rohrabacher for his support of cannabis.

But Levin has also donated to California Congressman Devin Nunes, newly defeated U.S. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.
Adam Levin

In response, a PRIDE Media spokesperson issued a statement to Women’s Wear Daily came to the defence of Levin, who is straight. “Adam is a staunch supporter of pro-Israel, pro-cannabis and LGBT issues and consistently works across the political spectrum to ensure he’s advocating effectively on behalf of each of these communities.”

Levin then spoke directly with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News in October. In that story, Levin doesn’t deny the donation, but blames it becoming a news story on “a fired employee who was upset. I have donated to politicians on both sides of the aisle, most from my support of pro-Israel candidates.”

Levin notes in the story that he has given to California Democrats including Congressman Adam Schiff and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom. He also said he’s only met Rohrabacher twice, calling him “a crazy old man that has been supportive of the cannabis industry.” Levin also said he is “cautious” about political donations because “things could come up if I supported the wrong ones, but can’t stop one’s actions after you support [them].”

The San Diego publication also spoke with openly gay PRIDE Media CEO Nathan Coyle, who said that “Levin will be more careful of who he gives money to in the future."

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 8

PRESSING QUESTIONS: Chill magazine

Interview with Editorial Director and co-founder Diane Anderson-Minshall and Editor in Chief Gerald Garth
by Joe Siegel

Location: Los Angeles and New York

Geographic coverage area: National (and via digital, international)

Year founded: 2018

Staff size and breakdown: A key staff of about eight editorial positions (not all are full time, since the same crew also produces The Advocate and Plus magazines)
Editor in chief Gerald Garth
Managing Editor Dimitri Moise
Senior Editor David Artavia
Production editor Jacob Anderson-Minshall
Associate editor Desiree Guerrero
Features editor Savas Abadsidis
Editorial director Diane Anderson-Minshall
Assistant to the editor Donald Padgett
Key freelancers include style editor James Brown III and sneaker editor Thomas Freeman as well as a handful of other rotating freelancers

Key demographics: A men's magazine for young urban millennials who may or may not use labels to define themselves, which largely means the audience is young men of color, some gay or bi, some straight, many who eschew labels altogether

Website: www.chill.us

*****

PPQ: What feature or features of Chill magazine have been the most popular with readers? 

Anderson-Minshall: Our cover stories, of course, are among the most popular because they're usually rather incisive looks at some of the thought leaders in the worlds of entertainment and hip-hop. We get a lot of kudos for our style sections as well and our fitness sections (which are very much akin to Men's Health but with Black and brown guys in them) are also popular. 

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

Anderson-Minshall: Our publisher Joe Valentino and I had been bouncing around the idea of this magazine for years, in part inspired by the number of Black men I had met that felt like there wasn't a space for them in LGBTQ media or mainstream media. We knew from the outset our readers would be gay-friendly — that's a must — but would be comfortable with a magazine that spoke to them and their friends regardless of orientation. We wanted the universality of men's voices and began talking with Gerald Garth. As a Black man, Gerald was critical in framing the voice and tone of the magazine. The editorial team that works on Chill is almost entirely people of color, and that was critical to us.  We're all about inspiration and empowerment, in looking and feeling good and being healthy, but we want to offer you a space to chill with it too.

PPQ: What challenge has Chill had to overcome since its inception?

Anderson-Minshall: Well, any new magazine launch has the challenge of convincing advertisers you're worth their investment and that you're reaching the audience you promise to reach. Fortunately, we had some early adopters and we already have new accounts lined up for 2019.

Garth: Chill has made some major strides. Overcoming concerns like inserting a new brand in the market can be a concern. But what’s great about Chill is the brand uniquely speaks to audiences that for a long time, have not had a voice - or rather, a very limited voice. Being able to showcase and bring to life the experiences of the millennial man of color is a value that Chill brings like none other.

PPQ: What challenge or challenges is Chill facing now?
Diane Anderson-Minshall

Anderson-Minshall: We just put money into building a digital team that not just does digital content, but also audience engagement and social media trafficking. Our big challenge in the next couple of months is to really boost our digital followers, but I'm optimistic, not just because we've really finally had time to focus on that with our small team, but we're using the power of Pride Media that has made our other brands the most viewed LGBT sites in the country.

PPQ: How has Chill changed since it was first launched?

Anderson-Minshall: We're so new, I'm not sure we've had much change, but it does take a few issues to really hone your tone and style and voice, so clearly those things are much sharper now. And like any good media outlet, we've listened to our readers and followers and used their feedback to better tailor what we're doing editorially.

PPQ: What one change would you like to make?

Anderson-Minshall: Well as editors we always want it to be bigger and better, so we're eager for a page count increase in print, which will happen sometime in 2019 I bet.

Garth: I’m excited to see the brand grow. New partnerships, stronger visibility, and increased engagement. I’m also excited to see more contributors and more digital and video.  Just overall a bigger Chill!

PPQ: What has been the biggest news story or stories Chill has covered?

Anderson-Minshall: Our most recent cover story with Charlamagne the God is getting a lot of traffic and some media pick up, which I think is because it's rare to have men talk about mental health, especially guys like Charlamagne.

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

Anderson-Minshall: Let's say 3. Our readers can be who they want to be without the baggage of labels, but surely among them some ID as gay, bi, trans, queer, SGL, and straight.

PPQ: Do you see yourselves as “activist journalists”? If so, in what way? 

Anderson-Minshall: I definitely see myself as an advocacy journalist because you really can't do a publication aimed at a niche audience (and face it, ours is quite niche if you look at men of color with complex personal identities) without being an advocacy journalist.

Gerald Garth
Garth: For me, activism is a way of life, particularly when you speak to the needs and experiences of underrepresented people. Some of the things Chill speaks to when it comes to young men of color, particularly Black and Latino men: mental and emotional wellness, sexual health and identity, knowing your rights, countering discrimination, but all through a social voice that really uniquely engages our readers.

PPQ: What's the most surprising feedback you've received from a reader? 

Anderson-Minshall: I'm always surprised by the number of white men or women (cis and trans) who say that even though they're not our target audience, they feel like the magazine really speaks to them. And I recall Prince Michael (who is straight) and Bobby Lyte (who is gay) from the TV series “Love and Hip Hop: Miami” talking about places where gay and straight men can hang together and how Chill in many ways has created that space.

PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own LGBT website?

Anderson-Minshall: Figure out who your audience really is and make it as specific as possible. Don’t try to reach everyone; there's great value in reaching a very specific niche audience. But within that, diversify as much as possible. We do not live in the LGBT world that existed even a decade ago, so our media absolutely shouldn't look like we do. 

Garth: Find your voice. Be able to speak passionately and well about issues and topics that are important to you and your communities. And respect intersections, respecting the places where multiple identities exist. For example, navigating the world as an LGBT person looks very different depending on race, location, religion, and so forth. Find spaces that allow you to specifically and authentically speak to the layers of one’s being.
PRESSING QUESTIONS
Volume 20
Issue 8

GUEST COMMENTARY: Breaking barriers with excellence

by Mark Segal
Mark Segal, publisher of Philadelphia Gay News, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. This column originally appeared in PGN.

“General excellence.” Upon hearing we’d won this category, my thoughts were, “Just another award.” Now that might sound jaded, but these days that seems to be the road we’re on, and I should have done my homework.

I soon discovered that the award I was about to accept on behalf of the entire PGN team is one of the highest honors a newspaper could be awarded by the 2,300 newspaper members of the National Newspaper Association.

Mark Segal
But another thought came to mind at that emotional moment: My friends who, like me, were among the first as out people to attend mainstream professional organizational meetings and conventions. On many occasions, these were the first LGBT people some non-LGBT people ever met, and thus were their first impression of our community. My thoughts went to Ann Butchart and Dan Anders, who attended organizations for judges; Leon King, who attended law-enforcement conferences as the first out Black commissioner of corrections in America; and my friend Klay, who walked into meetings of the cable and broadcast organizations.

This year, we were awarded many honors from the National Newspaper Association. That’s an organization of some 2,300 daily and weekly newspapers around the country, and we felt honor-bound to attend. So, when no one in the office wanted to go, I decided to be the designated attendee.

This is something I’ve gotten used to over the years: being among the first LGBT newspapers to win major journalism awards, or being the first LGBT newspaper applying for membership, or attending meetings of mainstream journalism or professional organizations.

One journalism organization refused our membership for 15 years. So the reaction of some of the members of these organizations amazes me. This year, I sat with member newspapers from Mississippi and Texas. Their questions were, shall we say, enlightening. But it’s an education for both sides. And it seems we always leave with a new appreciation for the other.

At the awards ceremony, many of the other newspapers were surprised to witness one of the LGBT newspapers taking top honors. And that was all I expected, but then a surprise: The last three awards were labeled “General Excellence” and I assumed they were just like any other award — but then the presenters read the criteria: “General excellence, among all dailies and non-dailies, of all circulations, across the nation.” Of the 2,300 member newspapers, we were one of only three to be awarded this prestigious honor. The significance of that moment had me in an emotional state. Then I thought, If only I would have done my homework, I would have been prepared for such a high honor. 

This is breaking barriers — not just for PGN and our staff that earned this honor, but for all LGBT media. Our community should take pride as well, since one of its own was judged by professional peers to be one of the best in the nation. The community’s support through the years is why we have reached that pinnacle.

For a moment, my mind wandered to our beginning years and the hardships, the death threats, the destruction of our offices and even being put on the Thunderbolt Newspaper hit list (that was the newspaper of the KKK and white supremacists). Thanks to all the staff through the years that endured. That, I hope, is a message to anyone who wonders, What can I do?

Imagine, dream and never give up or in.

GUEST COMMENTARY
Volume 20
Issue 8