Forty Under 40: Media

Ariel Foxman heads up an impressive list of out media professionals that includes Ariel Levy, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Air Shapiro, Josh Rubin, and Rachel Maddow.

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 05 2009 11:00 PM ET

Ariel Foxman | Magazine editor | 35 | New York City

Every February, InStyle magazine features a portfolio of the previous year's most glamorous celebrity weddings. This year that roundup was led off by glossy shots of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, both clad in white Zac Posen creations, posing at their August 2008 ceremony in Los Angeles.

Featuring DeGeneres and de Rossi "wasn't a decidedly bold move," says Ariel Foxman, the youthful managing editor of InStyle. "It's just the world we live in."

This may be a bit of false modesty from someone accustomed to receiving praise. Foxman was only 34 when he was named the top editor at InStyle, one of the nation's best-selling fashion magazines (he also oversees all 16 international editions of the magazine as well as InStyle Weddings ). Prior to that, the Harvard graduate honed his craft at Details and The New Yorker before launching the men's shopping magazine Cargo as its editor in chief at age 29.

"Being gay has been something I've been fortunate to be able to take for granted," Foxman says. "I think the visibility of out gay men in this realm of celebrity and fashion has allowed me to sort of slide into this position without much hoopla." But he doesn't dismiss the role the steady march of progress has played when it comes to his post. "Would I be in this position 10 or 15 years ago? Probably not."

Foxman's success may be traced to Psychology 101 -- the merits of positive thinking. "There was a ceiling at Cargo with age and perhaps a ceiling with being a male editor at InStyle, " he says. "But I never think about it that way. I always see [new jobs] as an opportunity to prove my ability." And for Foxman, that proof is in the numbers: Although overall magazine sales dropped a whopping 11% in the second half of 2008, newsstand sales of InStyle jumped 6%.

Ariel Levy | Writer | 34 | New York City

After 12 years as a writer for New York magazine, where she memorably chronicled such topics as lesbian "boi" culture, her own 2007 marriage, and -- in a devastating profile -- Clay Aiken, Ariel Levy jumped to The New Yorker last year, where her journalistic gifts are on national display. As always, Levy has cast a wide net, writing about the 1970s lesbian separatist group the Van Dykes, profiling fashion designers like Marc Jacobs and Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, and tackling trickier subjects like Cindy McCain, who Levy says refused to make eye contact with her when she interviewed McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign. Also to Levy's credit: the book Female Chauvinist Pigs, a bracing critique of female "raunch culture," which was published in 2005.

1027 ARIEL LEVY 40 UNDER 40 X390 (GRAHAM SMITH) | ADVOCATE.COM

Being out has been good for her career -- even, perhaps, a factor in landing her New Yorker gig. "I wouldn't say I got my job because of affirmative action, but I certainly think it didn't hurt," Levy says. "I think they were psyched to have diversity." And being open about her sexual orientation has also allowed her to get certain interviews, like with Lamar Van Dyke, the idiosyncratic former leader of the Van Dykes. "If I'd gone to her and said 'I want to write about you, I'm straight,' she never would've said yes. And that was such a cool, weird story." And one that hadn't previously been told -- a true journalistic scoop.

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