Sunday, November 17, 2019


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Jan Stevenson & Susan Horowitz of
Between The Lines
BETWEEN THE LINES, based in Livonia, Mich., held its 9th annual LGBTQ Wedding, Home and Life Expo in Dearborn on October 13, 2019.

GOGUIDE MAGAZINE, based in Iowa City, is publishing its “Guide to the Iowa Caucuses Special Issue” in December 2020.

LGBT HISTORY MONTH, organized by the Philadelphia-based EQUALITY FORUM, is seeking nominations for its 2020 LGBT History Month Icons. The deadline is December 6, 2020. Submit nominations at

THE WASHINGTON BLADE celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gala at the Intercontinental Hotel at the Wharf in Washington, D.C. on October 18, 2019.

WINDY CITY TIMES, based in Chicago, entered its 36th year of publication with its October 2, 2019, issue.

Volume 21
Issue 8

Apple's poor track record advertising in LGBTQ media

by Scott Stiffler
(This article is the first in a series by the Washington Blade’s Scott Stiffler looking into large corporations and their relationship with LGBTQ media. It is reprinted here with permission.)

We buy their phones, wear their watches, and use their products to drive our businesses — but finding their iconic ads in the pages of your local LGBT newspaper or website is like looking for an apple in an orange grove.

“Some big companies with a good reputation in the community, like Apple, fail when it comes to speaking to us directly, effectively,” says Leo Cusimano, publisher and owner of the Dallas Voice newspaper, and OUT North Texas, a glossy magazine. “More and more, LGBT individuals are frustrated by brands that treat them as an afterthought.”

National advertising via mainstream media certainly gets the word out — but depictions of LGBT consumers remain rare to the point of novelty, leaving many wondering why companies who lavish their attention on the general public don’t appeal directly to a niche market eager for a signal that they, too, are valued.

Dallas Voice Publisher Leo Cusimano
“When I see an ad in a local LGBT publication or website,” says Cusimano, “I think, ‘Look, they are targeting me.’ This local perspective is very important, particularly from a grassroots effort. We see brand switching from one product or service when advertisers utilize this approach. We’re a loyal demographic who likes to do business with companies that advertise in our backyard.”

Cusimano, who holds a business degree, says the onus is on LGBT media to “make an advertiser aware of the advantages of niche marketing. Our job is to elevate their brand in the community. And when you do that, it really helps trigger that sale.”

Cusimano cites Wells Fargo and Facebook as companies that have advertised with his publications. You’ll find Bridgestone tires on his car, he notes, because a few years ago, “They did a 12-month campaign with Dallas Voice. It really changed people’s minds, to know there is a company that [consistently] advertises with us,” instead of ghosting the community once Pride month has come and gone.

“They’re missing a good opportunity,” says Pride Source Media CFO Jan Stevenson, of Apple.

For 26 years, Stevenson and her wife, Susan Horowitz, have published Michigan’s weekly newspaper, Between the Lines, which, along with their Pride Source Yellow Pages, serves the LGBT community.

“Every single computer in our business” is an Apple product, says Stevenson, who notes the company’s “excellent reputation as an LGBT-friendly player” could be leveraged “so easily, with just some simple ads that say, ‘We want your business.’”

A positive perception pays dividends, as noted in Community Marketing & Insights’ 13th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey. Released earlier this year, 27 percent of respondents said they were “significantly more likely to purchase” when companies advertise in the LGBTQ digital and print media. Forty-one percent said advertising in the LGBTQ media had a greater impact on them than when companies advertise in the mainstream media — and a 2016-2017 National LGBT Media Association study on consumer shifts saw two in three LGBTQ+ individuals saying, “I am frustrated by brands that treat people like me as an afterthought.” (Fifty-one percent of respondents purchased a new smartphone in the last 12 months.)

Still, Stevenson’s company has had no success in its sales outreach to the tech behemoth.

Nor has Todd Evans, who, as president and CEO of Rivendell Media, represents 95 percent of all LGBT media in the U.S. Rivendell has made numerous overtures to Apple, with no results. (Rivendell Media is also the publisher of Press Pass Q.)

“The demographics seem perfect for Apple,” said Evans. “LGBTs are early adopters of new technology, and have very high entrepreneurial tendencies, which would be a natural target for a tech company. They’re a very progressive company, or thought to be. Even the CEO is LGBT. Yet to our knowledge, Apple has never done any direct-to-consumer [LGBT] outreach with any of their ad campaigns.”

Rivendell CEO Todd Evans
If they have, that sales call has yet to reach Rivendell, which credits Apple products for “part of our success in business, back to when our founder was Beta testing for Apple,” says Evans. “We’ve reached out to their agencies [currently OMD], and they’ve been very open to proposals. But it never seems to go anywhere. And Apple, it’s impossible to get through to the client. Once the client is interested, the agency does whatever they want.”

Of late, says Evans, Rivendell has placed an emphasis on educating potential buyers that LGBT media is “completely different than other minority media, like African American or Hispanic. For example, in our community, there is no network TV like Telemundo, no BET, no national magazine with million-plus circulation. We get our information differently.”

And despite the march to digital as a favored, oftentimes sole, marketing strategy, “What a lot of people aren’t realizing is that in LGBT media, print is still very much king,” notes Evans. “For $100,000, you can pretty much own LGBT media, a full-page ad in most major LGBT publications in America. That is chump change for most companies’ advertising budgets, and digital just does not do as well, without print’s call to action.”

With just about 130 LGBT publications nationwide, Evans is “shocked that more companies don’t realize they can make a difference, to get a community behind them.”

Absolut Vodka is the ultimate success story. In 1981, recalls Evans, “They came into the market — not to get their feet wet, but to own it.” Today, Absolut has “phenomenal brand recognition, and they maintain a presence in the LGBT community. There are so many vodkas out there, they don’t want to give up that space, to lose that equity.”

At a time when other high-quality products are shrinking market share and eroding consumer confidence built by the belief that Apple products are hands-down superior to the alternatives, longtime Apple loyalist Evans is “beginning to think twice about my next computer.” Technology as well as pricing, he observes, “have caught up with Apple. I’m just back from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce conference,” which had over 1,500 LGBT businesses in attendance. “I was noticing,” recalls Evans, “There were as many Samsungs as there were iPhones. So it seems the right time for Apple to hedge their bets.”

“We do have real alternatives today,” says Cusimano. “We don’t have ads from Samsung, and this is a prime opportunity for [Apple] to capitalize on that, to be trendsetters. They did that years ago, in education — getting their computers in schools, for kids. It’s time for them to look closer at the LGBT community.”

Cusimano says he’s working with the National LGBT Media Association to augment the way the Human Rights Campaign compiles statistics for its Corporate Equality Index. Described by HRC as an annual “national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees,” a positive rating is widely cited by corporations as a way to shore up their reputation.

The Index’s Category 4, notes Cusimano, “is about philanthropic work or advertising in LGBT media.” This allows corporations “to donate to an event, and that checks that box for them. We want HRC to make it a stand-alone category, where you have to advertise in LGBT media.”

As this story was first published, that advertising “get” remained as elusive as responses to our request for comment. A call to Apple’s Media Helpline yielded a swift response from its representative, Fred Sainz, with this reporter honoring his request to submit questions. Despite several follow-up email exchanges, Apple did not respond to our inquiries.

Volume 21
Issue 8

PGN unveils new, newsier look

by Fred Kuhr

Philadelphia Gay News recently unveiled its new look, its first redesign since 2011. 

The newspaper’s more streamlined and cleaner look is meant to reflect its commitment to news coverage, according to founder and publisher Mark Segal.

“We looked at other designs from publications we respected, primarily in mainstream media since many in LGBT media seems to be replicating magazine style,” said Segal. “We want our readers to know this is a newspaper and will treat their community news with ‘Honesty, Integrity and Professionalism,’ which has been our motto since 1976.”

While its three-word motto remains on the front page, the purple block with the letters PGN is now smaller. In fact, there is less of the purple accent color than has been used in the past.

“Over the decades, PGN like other newspapers had changed it’s look to reflect the times,” said Segal. “Usually before unveiling the new format we’d inform our readers with announcements in the paper. There was a standard in the profession to do so for one month before the change. This time we decided otherwise, and did so with one announcement the week before. Our thoughts were that everything in life, including how you get your news, has become faster, and we should reflect that change as well.

Given the swift turnaround, Segal wasn’t sure how readers would react to the change. "But luckily for us, Philadelphia’s second largest LGBT event was just two weeks away, and we mounted a both at OUTfest, Philadelphia’s very large LGBT Street festival. People just came up to our booth and told us what they thought. Practically all the comments were positive and, in a show of the times, we often heard, ‘It’s about time.’”

Segal said that most commenters like the new “creative white space we incorporated” and the more “newsy” look. He appreciates that response since “our mission from day one, 44 years ago, was to be a newspaper not a magazine.”

Volume 21
Issue 8

Baltimore OUTloud’s Jim Williams remembered

by Fred Kuhr

Jim Williams, the co-founder and longtime co-publisher of Baltimore OUTloud, passed away on October 4, 2019. Williams retired from the newspaper this past June due to ill health related to heart and lung issues, according to a report in Baltimore OUTloud. He was 84.

He was not only one of the four original founders of Baltimore OUTloud, but became co-publisher in 2009 after the retirement of founding publisher Mike Chase. He was also a driving force behind the decision to purchase Baltimore Gay Paper.

Jim Williams
According to current Baltimore OUTloud publisher Jim Becker, Williams’ background in LGBT nonprofits made him “a natural fit” as a founder of the newspaper.

“He had great insight into the needs of the community that, combined with a strong business sense, made him invaluable to the newspaper,” Becker said, in the pages of Baltimore OUTloud. “Until his health began to take its toll, Jim had boundless energy and a love of life, perhaps the result of growing up in New Orleans. He had a great sense of humor, loved a good party, and could light up a room. I will miss him as a tremendous partner in publishing Baltimore OUTloud and as a dear friend.”

Publisher emeritus Mike Chase added, “I met Jim shortly after he came to Baltimore and was immediately struck by his commitment to helping those with HIV/AIDS. He embraced Baltimore’s Q-plus community while making the city his home. It was that community spirit that led us to ask him to join in the founding of Baltimore OUTloud. Jim was a patron of local artists and all things of beauty. He faced life’s challenges with his characteristic good humor and a generous nature. I have been proud to call Jim a friend, and know he will be missed by many.”

Williams was originally an eight-grade English teacher, but then went on to work for the National Education Association (NEA), starting in the 1960s, particularly around issues of integration. After retiring from the NEA in the ‘80s, he worked for several Washington, D.C., nonprofits, including Food and Friends. He was then hired as executive director of Movable Feast. After retiring from Movable Feast, he became executive director of AIDS Interfaith Residential Services (AIRS), another AIDS service organization.

While working for Movable Feast, he met Chase, who was then editor of Gay Life newspaper. When Chase’s spouse Lee Mooney, Joe Berg, and Jim Becker decided to launch Baltimore OUTloud, Williams was tapped to join the effort.

Williams is survived by a brother, son, and daughter. A memorial service will be held on December 7, 2019, at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Baltimore.

Volume 21
Issue 8

GUEST COMMENTARY: Is PrEP forgetting the community?

by Mark Segal
(Mark Segal is the publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. This column original appeared in PGN. It is reprinted here with permission.)

If you’re a member of the LGBT community, you’re affected by HIV/AIDS in many ways. And if you needed information related to HIV/AIDS when the crisis emerged, there was only one reliable place that you could turn —  your local LGBT newspaper. 
Mark Segal

At that time, the mainstream media, even the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer, were derelict in their duties as media sources and journalists. If you needed to know where to receive treatment, what drugs were available to help, and new organizations that were formed to help support the fight, the only place you could find information on a regular, reliable basis was your local LGBT newspaper.

It was also in your local LGBT newspaper that you first read about the new drug called PrEP. The company that developed PrEP knew that among their markets was the LGBT community, so they made sure we received press releases about promising results from the drug during development.

The first marketing campaign benefited the gay community, our community, a community very much affected by HIV/AIDS. But you might have noticed it’s no longer this way. These drug companies have a TV strategy now. Have you seen their commercials on FX or other TV channels?

It might not seem important to you that a drug company has decided to leave the LGBT media market and head to the greener pastures of mainstream media, but it is, because LGBT media will be writing about the long-term effects of PrEP, as we did with the first miracle drug, AZT. And it is LGBT media that will write about any new drugs that come along, and new drugs will come because advancements are always being made.

Why am I writing this? As someone who has seen this community grow for 50 years now, I’ve also watched as corporate America has woken up to how strong a buying market we are. I’m acutely aware of corporate responsibility to give back to communities that support their products, and I applaud the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce for educating us about economic equality. If our community is partially responsible for the success of a product, shouldn’t the company support our community? Or, even more logically, shouldn’t the company continue to seek people who need the product by advertising in a place that they trust?

A recent study from the Williams Institute points out, thanks to PrEP, there is a sexual revolution going on in our community. Doesn’t that mean they have a responsibility to educate our community?

This is a discussion that many LGBT publishers have had in a changing media landscape. Looking back over 50 years of activism, including 44 as a publisher of LGBT media, I’m happy to see banks, communications companies, casinos and real estate companies in our papers. Do you know why we have so many companies in our papers? It’s because of your strong voice and loyalty to companies that support our community. Think Absolut Vodka.

While we can easily find what the Swedish vodka company has done for the LGBT community and media for 25 years, especially in support of the HIV/AIDS community, can we say the same for companies who make PrEP or an economic powerhouse like Apple? I think you know the answer.

Maybe in my next 50 years of activism, I’ll see an Apple ad in an LGBT newspaper. And maybe PrEP companies will come to the realization that you can’t just blare ads on mainstream media and hope that people will pay attention. Our community takes LGBT media seriously because we take our community seriously. Our number one concern is educating the people we serve, something that PrEP companies seem to have, unfortunately, forgotten. 

Volume 21
Issue 8

PRESSING QUESTIONS: GoGuide Magazine of Iowa City, Iowa

Interview with Publisher Tim Nedoba
by Joe Siegel

Geographic coverage area: Iowa City and the University of Iowa, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines

Year founded: 2016

Staff size and breakdown: One publisher/editor (who also does layout, distribution and ad sales) and six writers


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

Publisher Tim Nedoba: There were two reasons for starting GoGuide. One was the then-executive director of One Iowa, Donna Red Wing. At the time, the state of Iowa had no publications for the LGBTQIA people of Iowa, and she strongly supported the idea that a magazine was needed in eastern Iowa. Two was my personal feeling of unfinished work at the now-defunct Chicago Free Press.

PPQ: What challenges has GoGuide had to overcome since its inception? 

Tim Nedoba
Nedoba: The big problem has been to build name recognition and to produce both a quality magazine and a quality website. We're still working on both, but we've been able to make a lot of progress in building relationships. Right now, the website is our big focus. Working with our design partners AIT Inc., we're upgrading almost weekly. I'm really proud of the work they're doing and I'm excited about the potential of the site. The print product and the website are really two different entities. They work in partnership with each other but neither is the identical twin of the other. 

PPQ: What challenge is GoGuide facing now?

Nedoba: The biggest challenge has been my own. I had a lot of experience on the publishing/sales/marketing side of the business, but none on the editorial side. That has been our challenge since the inception, learning the editorial side of the company. I've had great mentors in my work history. I've tried to think in terms of how these past mentors would handle the situation and then apply that to GoGuide.

PPQ: How has the publication changed since it was first launched? 

Nedoba: It has evolved from an entertainment-only publication to a news and entertainment publication. For example, our "Guide to the Iowa Caucuses" has been very popular. This series has included one-on-one interviews with several candidates this fall, including most recently Senator Cory Booker and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 
PPQ: What one change would you like to make?

Nedoba: Hiring a real editor. Once we grow to the point that it’s possible to pay that person decent wages, hiring an editor will be the next investment.

PPQ: What has been the biggest news story has GoGuide has covered? 

Nedoba: It's the ongoing story, but I believe it will be set in February and throughout the political year, and that's our coverage of the first openly gay person running for president of the United States.

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

Nedoba: Go for it. Realize it will take a lot of work and will take a lot of your time, but in the long run, it will be worth the effort. It's a dream job of a lifetime. There isn't anything more rewarding than starting your own publication and doing the best you can to serve the local community.

Volume 21
Issue 8