A By-Gone Genre
Well this week Genre (a gay men’s magazine designed for gay men who love other men and who want to look at men that have great bodies who may or may not be gay) decided to stop publishing…at least for now. While they state they hope to make a return at some point the odds are likely we’ve seen the end of the magazine as well as some other gay magazines that according to rumor may be following suit (albeit a three piece Armani). A by-gone Genre – Don’t Get Me Started!
With talk of all the newspapers going under in this country and with the invention of the Internet I’m surprised we hadn’t gotten rid of glossy gay mags long ago. ‘Twas a time when the only way you could see a naked man’s picture was to buy one of these magazines. And while our straight counterparts insisted that they read Playboy for the articles (not for the nudie cuties) gays were much more open about the fact that they were buying the magazine to see naked men (and the fact that the pages were glossy hard paper stock made it much easier to wipe off their “appreciation” for the “models”).
Although I was delighted in 2006 when gay magazine leader, The Advocate’s readers named my blog as one of their top ten I stopped my subscription to the magazine last year. When you’re a forty-something gay and have been in a relationship with the same man for over twenty years you don’t so much buy glossy gay magazines filled with naked men. And while The Advocate is sorta glossy (but much thinner pages) it was the content getting thinner and thinner that let me let my subscription lapse. I couldn’t read one more interview with a straight celebrity and the interviewer only seeming interested in if they had a gay crush who would it be on? It had become Tiger Beat when it came to the interviews, there were a few AIDS articles and then the back was filled with overly tanned gay real estate agents trying to sell you a property in Palm Springs or Key West. Sure there were a few ads for Vegas and cruises where apparently the only ones who went were guys who worked on their abs and sat around in foursomes with their arms around one another like some eunuch orgy on the “Promenade Deck” (Where’s Julie McCoy when you need her to announce the shuffle board winners?) but rarely was there anything all that interesting.
With more and more people accepting gays (and gays accepting themselves) it seems as though the once “radical” type magazines like The Advocate lost their voice and then lost their viewership. Why? My theory is that they stopped being relevant. How many stories can we read about gays in the military? And who buys gay magazines? GAYS! And guess what? We gays all get that it doesn’t make sense to have any policy banning gays or those gays that are not telling anyone they’re gay or doing anything gay so it’s “okay” for them to be in the military. I’m not saying the whole magazine should focused on gays being killed in foreign countries (and here in the US) but with so many websites, blogs, etc. you have to make the magazine something special to earn its place to be prominently displayed on the coffee table in a gay home. Sure you can get away with one issue’s cover being a shirtless Jake Gyllenhaal but if that’s on the cover of every issue it just becomes a special gay edition of Tiger Beat or People.
What’s the answer? I’m glad you asked. And as usual, I have an answer (to everything). Gay magazines can’t just appeal to gays anymore. So here’s what I’d create if I was a publisher (and anyone who steals this idea needs to give me a cut). I’d call it “Like Us” – the magazine would feature some celebrities but would be mostly comprised of every day (what I call, “Garden Variety”) gays, what they do for a living, tips from them, etc. Imagine if you will, getting different gay travel agents to tell you some travel booking secrets. Sure have gay designers sharing the latest looks but also “retail gays” who are buyers for stores telling you what’s selling and what isn’t. There are so many possibilities and fields where out gays work that you could cover everything from finance to fashion to football. By making the magazine about gays’ individual stories who not only are experts in their fields so they give advice gays and straight people want to read about and who are similar to what is seen as “the straight life” would help show how diverse the gay population is but at the same time it would celebrate “Ian” having two Mommies, one who is a pediatrician and the other a welder (you know how the lesbians love to wear coveralls and carry a torch). The idea wouldn’t be to homogenize gays to fit with a “straight stereotype” but to help break down barriers by producing interesting “people” articles so that you want to read it for the information and oh, guess what? These people are gay and could be your family and/or neighbors (and probably are). Think Real World on MTV (except with adults and people who actually know something) it’s making a reality show into a magazine featuring some recurring characters but also tons of guest stars to keep you interested. “Like Us” would celebrate the similarities as well as the differences between the gay and straight world.
The above may not be the answer but someone needs to find one soon because I have a feeling that Genre won’t be the only magazine going out of print (I include gays and straight magazines in this one). I can buy Vanity Fair for my coffee table and get gossipy People magazine crap as well as fashion, I can go online to look at any type of naked man, woman or anything in between so don’t replicate, invigorate the industry by us gays doing what we always do, being creGayttive being ahead of the game, creating trends and seeing life and industry in a way no one else could imagine. Otherwise we’re looking not only at a by-gone Genre but a by-gone era. – Don’t Get Me Started!
Read More Scott @ www.somelikeitscott.com