*Some Exceptions May Apply
My copies of The Advocate & Out arrived in the mail the other day, wrapped in their usual shroud of mouse-colored plastic. I'm glad to see that the publisher does not feel the need to further mark their wrappers with either a warning that they contain "Adult" materials or that the weird gray wrapper "May Be a Choking/Suffocation Hazard for Infants & Small Children"--especially since both magazines routinely appear on newsstand racks up here, and, I'm pretty sure the number of subscribers to the magazines with infants and small children are the minority. I've been getting these two publications by mail for a while now, aside from a couple of journals from plant societies that I belong to, they're the only glossy magazines to which I subscribe. When I first started reading the Advocate, back when I was at university, I was impressed at the range of news topics that it covered; there were notes from all over the country about issues facing the GLB community, anecdotes about gay life and stories about HIV/AIDS. I don't remember buying OUT until my last couple of years of university, Attitude was my gay pulp magazine of choice back then, full of glossy pictures and racy advertising and whatever was du jour in Continental style. At some point in time OUT supplanted Attitude, perhaps due to the ease of finding OUT up here, but I really don't remember the reason. Chronology aside, I've always enjoyed reading a "mainstream" gay publication. It's sort of like picking up an issue of Cosmo that's written solely for us. I've enjoyed flipping through the pages and seeing what's up-and-coming in the world of theatre, I've enjoyed the photo-rich interviews with mainstream celebrities and pop icons, I've enjoyed the occasional editorial review of literature or film or art, I've enjoyed the snippets of insight from LA and London and New York and Hong Kong. Sadly though, most days I now find myself nostalgic for the Advocate of years past; where once there were articles covering topics from Denver to San Francisco to Berlin, now the magazine seems to follow the formula of so many others: feature piece set in New York, feature piece set in LA, feature piece set in Paris (insert other major European city here), advertising layout for somewhere vaguely historic or pleasure themed or previously "off limits" to the gay public, 3-4 HIV maintenance drug ads, personality page--usually featuring a star or celeb that was seen recently in one of the cities featured in an article in the magazine & an editorial or two from the editor and/or guest editor of the magazine. The same formula seems to hold for OUT, with the addition of several glossy fashion-based photo spreads (I've still not figured out who can afford these clothes, save perhaps closeted members of the Saudi royal family, gay children of aging pop stars or spouses and partners of those in the Wall Street world), ads for apparel and fragrances & photo memoirs of recently held gala and charity events. Don't get me wrong, it's interesting to peruse these pages, but after 15 years or so of the same format, I think it's time to overhaul things. We've had our share of tragedy in the GLB world, spotlights shining on abuses in Wyoming and Utah and Vermont and Latvia. Likewise we've had our share of triumphs, hats off to Iowa and New Hampshire and Israel and DC. Interesting and infuriating however that what raised eyebrows and earned solemn glares or congratulatory praise should fade so fast, still simmering on the periphery while New York and LA and London again step to the front of the bus. I'm left wondering what happened to the rest of our stories, why there isn't more attention placed on Chicago or Portland (either one will do!) or Madison or Denver? I'm curious why the prodigious fashion spreads don't feature upcoming GLB designers or those on the edge of their game? Where are gay youth from middle America, the gay professionals that hail from the Heartland and Hinterlands, the leaders from our "before" times? Where are articles dealing with the rest of our lives--educational hurtles from disappearing grants and state budgets, crippled mobility from underwater mortgages and dying economic models, disappearing health care from over-taxed and under-worked government; dare I continue? I've come to the conclusion that if I don't live on the West or East coast, am not in possession of a black Amex, have no season tickets for a box at the Met or make less than twice what my parents make, I can't afford the $12 subscription.