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How LGBTQ Magazines Help Us Find Community

Diane Anderson-MInshall

Who reads magazines these days? You’ve heard that question more than once, I’m sure. I hear it all the time, usually accompanied with a lecture about how “kids these days” do all their reading on their phones. The thing is, that’s not universally true. I’m reminded of that every time we get the kind of phone call we did last week — from a teenager in a small Midwest town who felt all alone until he discovered a print copy of The Advocate at his local library. I don’t know why he didn’t find comfort on YouTube or through the gays of Instagram or on, but I do know that he reached out, feeling all alone, wanting to find connection through our pages.

Finding community is only one reason why magazines rule. At Mr. Magazine’s recent ACT 9 conference Daniel Dejan spoke about studies that show brain activity is different when reading a paper copy than on a device. Reading on paper stimulates visual memory, helping your brain map out information to remember later. Reading a print magazine lowers your heart rate and blood pressure; it’s the media wellness version of the slow food movement.

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On the Set (above from left): Hair and makeup artists Claire Gonella and Sameerah Hoddison, deputy editor Jacob Anderson-Minshall, Nicole Maines, me, stylist Aisha Rae, Colton Haynes, and Nafessa Williams

We’ve had some of the greatest queer and trans journalists on these pages including our Legacy honoree, Edmund White, but change is always around the corner. We’ve had some here recently. Contributing editor Charles Stephens, who is the executive director of Counter Narrative in Atlanta, is saying goodbye to his popular column, Black Ink (though he promises he’ll still write the occasional feature for us). Jeffrey Masters, the man behind our LGBTQ&A podcast has joined The Advocate as senior editor of special projects. He’s working alongside our new editor in chief, Zach Stafford, who has a new podcast of his own, The Ten (both are available on Luminary).

Prior to joining us, Stafford was chief content officer of Grindr and editor in chief of Into, its LGBTQ digital magazine. He also served as editor at large of our sister magazine, Out, and was an award-winning journalist at The Guardian. He’s got a new kids’ book coming out too, When Dogs Heal, and was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 earlier this year.

LGBTQ journalists have always been my heroes, but so are the activists and everyday trans and queer folks making a difference in their parts of our country. And we honor 100+ in our annual Champions of Pride. It seemed only fitting to also use this issue to celebrate queer superheroes on the small screen — where we’re no longer just saving ourselves. The superheroes played by our cover stars Nicole Maines, Colton Haynes, and Nafessa Williams are LGBTQ and saving the world.

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Letters From Hell
We’re keen on social media feedback, but don’t think we don’t get letters. In fact, one man writes us long rambling screeds every month, about how we’re all abominations against God, as well as race-baiters (the n word was used) and Sodomites whose “feminist apostacy” will doom us all to hell. He also sends us anti-LGBTQ booklets from Chick Publications, like The Gay Blade (above).

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