Tuesday, April 23, 2019


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

TJ ACOSTA, publisher of New Orleans-based AMBUSH, had the honor of choosing this year’s grand marshals for the city’s Gay Easter Parade.

BOSTON SPIRIT MAGAZINE announced that Rhode Island Congressman DAVID CICILLINE will be the keynote speaker at the magazine’s annual LGBT Executive Networking Night, to be held this year on May 2.

CITYXTRA MAGAZINE, based in Jacksonville, Fla., published its 100th issue in March 2019.
Barbara Hammer

GOGUIDE MAGAZINE, based in Iowa City, has published its interview with Democratic presidential candidate MARIANNE WILLIAMSON.

BARBARA HAMMER, the pioneering experimental filmmaker whose works involved a distinctive lesbian perspective, died of ovarian cancer on March 16, 2019. She was 79.

LAVENDER MAGAZINE, based in Minneapolis, celebrated its 20th anniversary on April 12, 2019.

THE LEATHER JOURNAL, based in Los Angeles, has launched a fundraising page on the crowdfunding site PATREON at www.patreon.com/theleatherjournal

PRESS PASS Q, the only trade publication serving professionals working in LGBTQ media, enters its 21st year of publication with this issue.

Volume 21
Issue 1

Newseum’s Stonewall anniversary exhibit features LGBTQ newspapers

by Fred Kuhr

LGBTQ publications from around the country are taking part in a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

“Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement,” an exhibit that will explore the modern gay rights movement in the United States, opened at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., will be on display through the end of 2019.

According to the Newseum, “Rise Up” explores what happened at the Stonewall Inn and how it gave rise to a 50-year fight for civil rights for LGBTQ Americans. The exhibit will include a yearlong program series featuring journalists, authors, politicians and other newsmakers who have led the fight for equality.

As part of the exhibit’s Today’s Front Pages display, front pages from different LGBTQ newspapers are featured, including the Washington Blade, Boston’s Bay Windows, Philadelphia Gay News, Dallas Voice, San Francisco Bay Times, Seattle Gay News, Watermark of Orlando, and QNotes of Charlotte, N.C.

The Newseum is known for its ongoing Today’s Front Pages exhibit, bring together front pages from newspapers across the country and beyond. In conjunction with “Rise Up,” the display is focusing on LGBTQ newspapers.

Frank Mitchell, the Newseum’s graphics specialist and exhibit designer, said, “On an average day, the Today’s Front Pages display is the result of the efforts of people at more than 800 newspapers from around the world,” as quoted in Bay Windows. “All those people — from more than 80 countries on nearly every continent — took time out of their busy schedules to contribute to a project that they feel is worthwhile.”

Mitchell noted that the newspapers have no formal contracts with the Newseum, but “on big news days, more than 75,000 unique visitors come to the Today’s Front Pages website to see how newspapers around the world cover major stories, as well as news of local interest.”

Jeff Coakley, co-publisher of Bay Windows added, “The fact that Bay Windows would appear in a museum on Pennsylvania Avenue in the shadow of the United States Capitol Building was something this newspaper’s founders could have never imagined would occur 35 years ago.”

For its featured cover, the San Francisco Bay Times commissioned artist, activist and local politician Debra Walker to create a cover that specifically commemorates Stonewall’s 50th anniversary.

According to the Newseum, “Rise Up” will explore — through artifacts, images and historic print publications — key moments in LGBTQ rights history, including the 1978 assassination of Harvey Milk, the AIDS crisis, former Congressman Barney Frank’s public coming out in 1987, the efforts for hate crime legislation, the implementation and later repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the fight for marriage equality. “Rise Up” will also look at popular culture’s role in influencing attitudes about the LGBTQ community through film, television and music, and explore how the gay rights movement harnessed the power of public protest and demonstration to change laws and shatter stereotypes.

For more information, go to http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/

Volume 21
Issue 1

Level of cannabis coverage going higher

by Joe Siegel

With a growing number of states making it legal for people to smoke marijuana, LGBTQ media have been providing increased coverage of the issue.

The Washington Blade recently launched a regular grouping of stories that run under the heading “Cannabis Culture.” Recent instalments included stories about the efforts to legalize recreational use of marijuana in New Jersey, San Francisco expunging 9,000 marijuana convictions, retail sales in Colorado, and a report about the link between medical marijuana and employment for Americans 50 and up.

“The Blade partners with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws for its cannabis coverage, in addition to our original reporting,” explained editor Kevin Naff. “We are sponsoring the National Cannabis Festival on April 20 in Washington, D.C., and will produce a special cannabis issue on April 19.”

Should LGBTQ media be discussing the legalization of marijuana at all? Is it a gay issue?

“These issues remain relevant to the LGBTQ community,” Naff said. “Gay men with HIV were at the forefront of the fight for medical marijuana laws. Underrepresented communities have been disproportionately impacted by the prosecution of marijuana laws.”

In a recent story on Forbes.com titled “The Road To National Marijuana Legalization Has Allies In the LGBTQ Community,” writer Andre Bourque noted: “The ties between marijuana legalization and LBGTQ rights go back decades to the AIDS epidemic of the ‘80s and ‘90s. At a time when the rate of AIDS infections skyrocketed and treatment research stalled, patients and advocates began fighting for medical marijuana use as early as 1976. As Zachary Zane recounts in Out Magazine, California’s Proposition 215 — the first bill to legalize medical marijuana — was co-written by Dennis Peron, a gay man who lost his significant other to AIDS.”

There’s another reason why the marijuana debate has generated interest among readers of LGBTQ media. It has to do with money.

“In addition, as those laws have started to change, tremendous new business opportunities are being created. Our community is entrepreneurial and many LGBTQ people are taking prominent roles in both the fight to reform the laws and to create new businesses as a result,” Naff added. 

According to a June 2017 report by New Frontier Data, “The LGBT community at large both supports cannabis legalization and consumes cannabis at significantly higher rates than heterosexuals. LGBT advocacy and cannabis legalization represent two of the fastest evolving public opinion issues in contemporary American society. Continued exposure of LGBT advocacy may strengthen the economic impact of the community, increasing its influence among trendsetters in the fast-evolving cannabis industry.”

Volume 21
Issue 1

Media mark lesbian mayoral wins in Chicago and Madison

by Joe Siegel

Lori Lightfoot made history on April 2 by becoming the first black woman and first openly gay person to hold the office of mayor of Chicago, America’s third largest city.

Late results showed Lightfoot, 56, who capitalized on her status as an outsider in a city long defined by insider politics, won every one of the city’s 50 wards. The reform-minded candidate defeated Toni Preckwinkle, who was for months seen as the favorite to win, and will succeed the outgoing mayor, Rahm Emanuel, later this spring.
Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot

In electing Lightfoot, Chicago will become the largest American city to be led by a black female mayor. Harold Washington, who was elected in 1983, and Eugene Sawyer, who was appointed after Washington died in office in 1987, are the only two African Americans to have served as mayor of the city. Jane Byrne is the only woman to have served in the role.

“Looking back at our coverage of Lori Lightfoot and [Preckwinkle], I have to say that our coverage was pretty balanced,” said Andrew Davis, executive editor of the Windy City Times (WCT). “They each scored an ‘A’ in our political questionnaire, we interviewed each. twice, and we asked community members who they planned on voting for on April 2,” Davis noted. 

In a March 27 WCT story, writer Matt Simonette asked Lightfoot about what the LGBT community could expect if she were elected mayor.

I want to make our city safe and welcoming for everyone and who you love, the God you worship, the color of your skin cannot control your destiny,” Lightfoot said. “We have to be a city that is welcoming and building bridges of hope and opportunity in every community, including the LGBTQ-plus community.”

Davis noted that the paper’s coverage of Lightfoot going forward will be conscious of her status as an openly gay leader.

“However, given Lightfoot's achievement of winning the post, we will be covering the historical aspect from an LGBT perspective,” Davis added.

Lightfoot wasn’t the only lesbian politician to be elected to lead a big city. Satya Rhodes-Conway was elected mayor of Madison, Wisconsin. 

“I started to see a set of challenges that Madison’s facing that I feel like are our tipping point challenges,” Rhodes-Conway told the city’s LGBT magazine, Our Lives, last month. “If we don’t work on affordable housing prices, that determines what kind of city we are in, in five to 10 years. If we’re not prepared for climate change, ditto. And if we don’t invest in transit, if we don’t tackle racial equity, … it determines what course we go on as a city. And I feel like we weren’t doing enough, in any of those things.”

Our Lives editor Emily Mills said although the paper didn’t officially endorse Rhodes-Conway, “All of our coverage was obviously in support of her candidacy,” based largely on her policies and actions as well as her being part of the LGBTQ community, Mills said.

“We will continue to report on her and her administration in the future with support, but also with honesty and, where needed, constructive criticism,” Mills noted. “I'm not interested in letting someone off the hook or treating them with kid gloves solely because they happen to identify as part of the LGBTQ community. That said, it's still notable to have out candidates and elected representatives — alas, even in 2019 — and important to highlight any and all progress on that front, in addition to the still very real accompanying challenges.”

Volume 21
Issue 1

Dems continue to enter prez race, including first openly gay candidate

by Joe Siegel
(This is the fourth in a planned series of interviews with local media professionals who have covered candidates as they announce their presidential candidacy.)

Pete Buttigieg has made history this month, becoming the first openly gay candidate for president of United States. Buttigieg, 37, is a former naval intelligence officer and is the mayor of South Bend, Ind.

The Washington Blade’s coverage of Buttigieg’s April 14 campaign announcement acknowledged his feelings about his sexuality: “Buttigieg referenced about the struggles of his youth — in terms of his sexual orientation and intellectual curiosity — when he said the only time he’d go back to the past was 20 years ago to allay the fears of his youthful self. The candidate said he would tell his younger self he’d be ‘all right' and ‘one rainy April day, before he even turns 40, he’ll wake up to headlines about whether he’s rising too quickly as he becomes a top-tier contender for the American presidency, and to tell him that on that day he announces his campaign for president, he’ll do it with his husband looking on.”

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg
In an April 1 editorial in the Blade, “Pete Buttigieg is gay enough,” writer Patrick Cochran touched on Buttigieg’s status as a gay man. “I haven’t met Mayor Pete, but I think I can safely say that he didn’t want to go through life with everyone assuming he was straight, feeling as though he was hiding a key part of his identity from his constituents. His coming out in 2015 was brave. He and his husband, Chasten, are out and proud. They are comfortable being who they are, despite rising numbers of hate crimes against LGBTQ individuals and despite the Trump administration’s rabidly anti-LGBTQ agenda. While Pete Buttigieg is a long way from claiming the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, his journey as an openly gay candidate is an inspiration.”

Buttigieg wasn’t the only Democrat to make it official over the past month of so. Beto O’Rourke, 46, is another contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. He represented Texas’ 16th congressional district for three terms.

In an October 2018 interview with Houston’s Outsmart magazine, O’Rourke touted his support of LGBT rights. “When I was on the El Paso City Council, I began to understand how much more we have to do to make sure that everyone is treated equally under the law. I remember in 2008 listening to a constituent who was a city employee who shared with me that although they were in a committed relationship, they couldn’t get healthcare benefits [like straight] married couples could. We passed a city ordinance that changed that, but it became a very contentious and controversial issue.”

Outsmart also noted: “O’Rourke supports the federal Equality Act, which would ban LGBTQ discrimination nationwide. He has also expressed opposition to Trump’s proposed ban on transgender troops, as well as Texas’ anti-LGBTQ adoption law and the state’s failed anti-transgender bathroom bill.”

California Congressman Eric Swalwell, 38, also announced his candidacy.

“Rep. Swalwell has long been an ally to the LGBT community,” said Cynthia Laird, news editor of the Bay Area Reporter. “He is more focused on international issues and in February wrote an op-ed for the BAR highlighting his actions with other House members on global gay rights.”

Swalwell touted his opposition to President Trump’s anti-LGBT policies in a February column in the Bay Area Reporter: “I sent a letter this month signed by 160 House members urging Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan not to implement the president's heartless and pointless ban on transgender people serving our nation in the armed forces. Back in November, I joined 87 of my colleagues in a letter demanding that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reject any consideration of a policy to redefine ‘sex’ to exclude the transgender community, denying them basic civil rights. And I'll be an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act, a comprehensive bill that will be introduced in the House to end discrimination against LGBT Americans, just as I was in the last Congress.”

Eight-term Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, 45, is also seeking the party’s presidential nomination.

The Human Rights Campaign lauded the May 2018 primary victories of pro-LGBT Ohio politicians, including Ryan. “HRC was proud to work on behalf of pro-equality candidates in these crucial races up and down the ballot, and will continue to mobilize our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters in Ohio to turn out for equality in the general election,” said HRC Ohio State Manager Shawn Copeland.

Much of a candidate’s past can be mined from LGBTQ media coverage in their home state or city, much as Chicago’s Windy City Times made national headlines in 2009 when the newspaper reported out the complete answers then-state senate candidate Obama gave in 1996 to a questionnaire from Outlines newspaper (which merged with Windy City Times in 2000). That survey showed that Obama supported marriage equality, even though he supported only civil unions for same-sex couples in 2009.

Volume 21
Issue 1

Georgia Voice looks back at logo’s evolution

by Fred Kuhr

As it entered its 10th year of publishing, Atlanta-based Georgia Voice unveiled its redesigned logo on March 15. This marks the third time the log has been redesigned its the newspaper’s nine-year history. 

As part of the anniversary celebration, the newspaper took a stroll down memory lane and explained the evolution of its logo.

The first version of the logo actually didn’t spell out “Georgia” but merely stated “GA Voice.” This logo was created by the paper’s first designer Bo Shell and used from 2010 until the entire paper was redesigned in 2015. This logo did, however, establish the newspaper’s red, black and white cool scheme.

The second logo, unveiled in 2015 and designed by co-founder Chris Cash and art director Rob Boeger, used “Georgia” instead of “GA,” and added the newspaper’s tagline, “The Premier Media Source for LGBT Georgia.” The newspaper updated the tagline in 2018 by adding the “Q” to “LGBTQ.” The second logo also incorporated the newspaper’s web address.

The new version of the logo, also designed by Boeger, “evolved more into a masthead to allow for more freedom of design on the paper’s covers,” according to the newspaper. “Still retaining the red and black, this version also gives even more emphasis to the world ‘voice’ - a reflection of what the paper is all about — the writer’s voice.”

Volume 21
Issue 1

GUEST COMMENTARY: As your publication changes, so should you

by Patrick Colson-Price
(Patrick Colson-Price is the new editor of Atlanta-based George Voice. This editorial originally appeared in the March 14, 2019, issue of the newspaper.)

There’s something special about change. From the physical to emotional, the process of transforming your life really shows just how capable humans are of positive growth. For the past decade, I’ve been the employee who’s been told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and why I should do it. I began to accept my career would always come with that complicated dynamic. I never imagined coming to the Georgia Voice and having my own voice. It was an opportunity to finally take years of ideas and unappreciated motivation to help change the newspaper for the better.

Patrick Colson-Price
Coming from a news background, I felt the need to keep news-driven stories a focal point in the newspaper. As much as we all hate hardcore news in our lives now that political controversies seem to fill our newsfeeds, I realize a bi-weekly newspaper still needs to give readers a chance to catch up on top stories as it relates to the LGBTQ community in Atlanta. Since taking over as editor, we lead with several top local news stories to give our readers their news fix.

When I accepted the job here at the Voice, I quickly began pondering how I could take my experience as a TV journalist and grow our audience even more. Newspapers are dying, but it doesn’t mean they’ll ever disappear. Instead, as a print journalist, we must adapt to the growth and evolution of media. From Facebook to Instagram, it’s where people receive their news. We’re evolving our reach and beginning to incorporate video stories on social media and our website. The truth is, many will be more inclined to watch a video than read a news story. It’s effortless to watch and listen rather than read and process. Video is a critical part of my overall goal in changing the Voice for the better.

As each future issue of the Voice rolls around, we now incorporate a preview video which highlights several of the top stories readers will find in that current issue. Why is this significant? Providing our readers a preview of what they can expect will drive them to pick up a copy and give them something to look forward to. From reality TV shows to news broadcasts, giving insight into what people can expect is the quickest way to grow our viewership.

The past three months have been unbelievably humbling. Not only have we seen change in our newspaper, but I’ve seen a change in me. The roll I stepped into gave me the opportunity to create a vision I’ve always had of what an LGBTQ newspaper should be. Each story I’ve composed or assigned to one of our freelance writers has been carefully thought out. I think, “What would I want to read if I picked up the Georgia Voice and what stories would impact me as an Atlanta resident?” Unlike my previous roles as a TV reporter, my opinion seems to finally matter. My team trusts me and they believe in the vision I have for this paper, and they’ve helped transform my vision into reality since I came aboard.

It says a lot about having people around you who believe in you and your talent. For nearly a decade, I never felt like I evolved as a reporter because the people surrounding me weren’t truly there to support but to direct and control. I questioned why I never felt I had changed, but now I have the answer: putting yourself in a position for change requires you to surround yourself with those who believe you can change. When you find that place of support and encouragement, change can be limitless.

Volume 21
Issue 1

PRESSING QUESTIONS: Q Magazine of Key West, Florida

Interview with Publisher Neil Chamberlain
by Joe Siegel

Year founded: 2006

Staff size and breakdown: “Pretty much a one man operation. Me, plus three contract workers, two columnists and one photographer.”

Key demographics: LGBTQ visitors to Key West and LGBTQ locals

Website: www.QKeyWest.com

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

Publisher Neil Chamberlain: The original name was The Gay Rag. This name was right to the point because whenever people would visit someplace they had never been, they would go out and look for the local gay rag to see where to go and what to do. After a few years, not only were people not in our community not understanding the name, but younger LGBTQ people didn't get it either. They have had the internet their whole lives so they never needed to seek out an LGBTQ guide. At that time, it was renamed Q Magazine. I wanted a simple name and the letter Q has a "swish in its step,” so I thought it would be fitting.

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

Chamberlain: Overcoming the belief that print media is dying. It doesn't help when LGBTQ magazines are failing all over the country, but we have been able to keep the magazine relevant and it's doing quite well. We also had to overcome our size — like many of us. A national company wanted to run ads but needed the magazine full sized. I was encouraged to change the size of the magazine to get these lucrative contracts. But I felt my readers needed something they could stick in their pockets and decided to keep it as it was even though it would cost me profits. Eventually, the company started redesigning ads to fit in a digest-sized magazine because they wanted to reach my market. Now, those ads run all over the country in digest-sized magazines. 

PPQ: What challenge or challenges is Q facing now?

Chamberlain: Mostly convincing advertisers that print media still works. I have some advertisers that have been with me since day one because they are thrilled with the results. Getting new advertisers to understand that can be a challenge. Also, the sudden jump in paper costs is starting to take a bite out of the margins.

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

Chamberlain: Of course, the name change was huge and I was concerned it would hurt us at least for a while, but it was embraced by everyone. We have had a few redesigns through the years but all in all, very much of it is still similar to the very first issue.  

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

Chamberlain: 5.762, roughly.

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

Chamberlain: Not at all. In my private life I am an activist, but the magazine is lighthearted and fun.

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

Chamberlain: I was DJ’ing a pool party once and someone was looking through the magazine. He skipped every column, the photos, and stopped to read every ad! Who knew?

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

Chamberlain: Do your research. Know your target market. You will depend on your advertisers so make sure your content is relevant to them. Do not lie about your print quantity or your distribution. Be a man of your word. Make sure the magazine is out on time every time. Don't count on an income right away. Pray that you can break even in a year and grow from there. Keep it simple. Learn to do as much as you can yourself. If you can't do every aspect of the magazine, what will you do when one of your staff has a meltdown or gets sick the day before your deadline?

Volume 21
Issue 1