Wednesday, August 21, 2019

GUEST COMMENTARY: The past and future of 35 years in print

by Leo Cusimano
(Leo Cusimano is publisher and president of Dallas Voice and OUT North Texas. This commentary originally appeared in the May 10, 2019, issue of Dallas Voice.)

As we here at Dallas Voice celebrate our 35th anniversary, we are reflecting on our history and investing in the future of our community. One of the things I love the most about Dallas is that our community values the importance of preserving our history, honoring those who paved the way for us and learning from our past as we shape our future.

When Dallas Voice was founded 35 years ago, our community needed to be seen and heard. We needed
Leo Cusimano of Dallas Voice
a vehicle to put our words in print. We demanded to be counted, and we needed to be not just acknowledged as a community but to be treated fairly. For me, LGBT rights are all about one thing: Equality. Dallas Voice has played a vital role in telling the stories of our community, shaping our history and helping us create change as we fought for equality. And still today, as we continue fighting to be recognized as a community in Texas, Dallas Voice remains strong, committed and a vital part of this fight.

I remember when I moved here in 1991 as a young activist and picked up my first issue of Dallas Voice. I read every word, consuming the news of my community. The stories reflected a time when, as a community, we fought to keep our government from ignoring HIV/AIDS and ignoring our struggles for equality. I remember crying over the number of obits in the paper, but at the same time, turning the pages of the paper felt good in my hands. I remember seeing the organizational directory for the first time; seeing a full page of groups to join and meetings to attend was so exciting.

When my husband Tony and I moved to Dallas, we found a thriving, welcoming LGBT community. We come from families with strong traditions, so we looked for the history and traditions of our new community. We were impressed with the cohesive mix of men and women throughout the community, something that we had not experienced in other cities. Now, as fathers of two boys, it is important to us to establish stability through traditions, setting a foundation to help our family grow. At Dallas Voice, our tradition of telling your stories, providing in-depth, comprehensive news and entertaining features helped shape this community and created stability and pride. Recording our history helps define us as community.

Today the fight for equality continues, even in the LGBT press. I think about the many corporations that our community supports and holds in high regard, companies like Apple and Starbucks and Amazon that all have 100 percent scores in the HRC Corporate Equality Index. But they do not invest in LGBT media. In a time when accurate, informative news media is perhaps more important than ever before, it is vital that those supporting our community support our community media.

Dallas Voice is proud of the way we have evolved over the past 35 years — going from a weekly newspaper to an integrated media company. We continue to invest in our products, from print to social media to video. In January, we increased our circulation to address growing demands in surrounding areas. This elevates our readership in print to more than 28,000 every Friday, and our online readership continues to flourish. Our social media footprint has also grown to more than 34,000 friends, followers and fans. With the launch of our newly-designed website last year, we are seeing more readers turning to our website for comprehensive, in-depth local LGBT coverage.

We also take this time to honor the dedication and foresight of our founders, Robert Moore and Don Ritz, who were brave enough and dedicated enough to invest in our community 35 years ago. They established the core values and traditions that continue to guide us at Dallas Voice today. We also honor all the staff members who make this publication possible every week and those who have been a part of the Dallas Voice family over the years.

As our dedicated and passionate staff write the next chapter in the story of our community, I hope you, too, continue the tradition of picking up Dallas Voice every Friday and that you support the companies that DO invest in us as a community; continue reading the stories and seeing and hearing our voices. Thankfully, we do have fewer obituaries today, but the organizational directory is still an important part of our publication and a place for you to connect with our community.

Thank you for supporting Dallas Voice and valuing the importance of having a voice for our beloved LGBT community and … keep reading.

GUEST COMMENTARY
Volume 21
Issue 5

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