Saturday, January 17, 2009
That was Then
Here's a little weekend trip down memory lane. Gabriel Rotello, former editor-in-chief of Outweek magazine, just posted a video -the only known video- inside the offices of the magazine that shook up the New York activist world, and LGBT publishing worldwide.
At the time of the video, I was assistant to (adorable and inspirational) publisher Kendall Morrison, and eventually editor of the offshoot bar rag Hunt, which was aimed at diverting the phone sex ads and bar listings to a national free publication. Too bad it didn't save the company, which eventually folded. That's why I'm blathering about porno and erections in the video. Really.
I also cut my teeth in arts writing, including my first cover story, an interview with brilliant choreographer Bill T. Jones (download PDF HERE) Imagine having the likes of acclaimed author Dale Peck proofread your work, Michelangelo Signorile suggest story ideas, and Sarah Pettit approve them. They were amazing, tumultuous times.
In its article on the demise of Outweek, The New York Times noted that, "Outweek established itself from the start as the most progressive of the gay publications. Its controversial practice of "outing" -- exposing public figures who are gay and lesbian -- and its support of Act-Up and Queer Nation, two activist gay organizations, brought it national notoriety.
“Outweek gave voice to a new generation of AIDS activists who had not previously had a public voice and provided a rallying point for the more militant members of the gay community."
Time Magazine wrote: "The magazine had earned recognition for its reporting on AIDS, homophobic assaults and gay politics, but its greatest success was in shaking up its competitors by challenging their brand of gay activism with a more militant stance."
In 1992, The Advocate appropriated the spinoff magazine idea, separated its "pink section" and created Advocate Classifieds, with more x-rated material.
Nevertheless, OutWeek, "the little magazine that could," is now a significant piece of queer history, and rather ironic, compared to this week's news that gay media entity Gay.com PlanetOut (for which I also worked in 1998 and 2000, respectively, but eventually not particularly respectfully) were just purchased by Regent Entertainment.
To peruse some of the old OutWeeks, visit Gabriel's site and the magazine's Wikipedia entry.