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We're Still Here Because of You

Matt Breen

All good — and challenging, maddening, inspiring, and joyful — things must come to an end. This is my final issue at The Advocate. All goodbyes are difficult, so I made them where I could with longtime colleagues, and ghosted the proverbial party knowing there were many others I’d see again soon. The permanence of a farewell — not to mention the speechifying — is a thing I don’t do very well.

Nevertheless, here we go: It’s been my honor and privilege to oversee The Advocate, the world’s oldest and longest-running LGBT publication, these past six years, and to its 50th-anniversary year. For their personal and professional support, I have mentors, predecessors, colleagues, publishers, and friends and family to thank — and that I’ll do in person. To the subscribers and regular readers who’ve kept the publication alive long after others have predicted its demise, The Advocate owes you enormous thanks. 

We’re still here because of you.

At various times The Advocate has been a lifeline, a beacon, and a resource to LGBT people. Historically it’s been a thorn in the side of police, antagonistic and foot-dragging politicians, fundamentalists, and medical gatekeepers. It’s never been a cakewalk — even with members of our own community who, at times, thought the magazine was too strident, too sexy, too radical, or too ____ (pick any of the letters in the acronyms), but your comments kept us vigilant. And we tried to have some fun along the way. 

My first issue as editor featured Chaz Bono, then the most famous transgender person in the world, in a May 2011 profile assigned by my predecessor Jon Barrett. Since taking the helm I have always endeavored to bring a diversity of voices and rigorous journalism to our pages. We’ve done some remarkable covers that told the stories of individuals (Beth Ditto, DeRay Mckesson, Caitlyn Jenner, Larry Kramer) and delved deep into the issues of our times, including “don’t ask, don’t tell,” our racial divide, the changing nature of HIV and AIDS as a disease and cultural force, the threat to LGBT people by Russian President Vladimir Putin (and other vile and despotic forces), and the struggle for marriage equality. 

Following the Supreme Court ruling in June 2015, many people even questioned the need for queer media in the wake of that peak achievement. Our current cover should lay that question to rest: We need it. No one else is going to adequately tell our stories for us, and in the hands of a demagogue as president, a Republican Congress, and a far-right Supreme Court, our rights are absolutely imperiled. We must always be our own best champions.

(RELATED: Meet the Next Editor in Chief of The Advocate)

This cover is absolutely not the one I’d hoped would be my last. I won’t offer up lamentation over the election here now, as you’ve read it all before. But the consequences to our movement going forward cannot be understated, and Masha Gessen’s and Mark Joseph Stern’s essays detail the disaster that awaits us if we are not vigilant and willing to do battle.

Just prior to the election, one of our community’s toughest and sagest pioneers, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who was at the Stonewall riots, who served time in prison, for sex work, and who now advocates for trans women in prison told me: “The biggest idiot God ever made could rule the United States? I first thought, Well, child, if he gets in I’m going to Canada. But then I thought, Miss Thing, you thought the same shit in ’62 when the war started. And I ain’t moved to Canada yet. Fuck it, I’m just going to stay here and fight. That’s all I know to do.”

I’m leaving this title but won’t be going far, and I’m taking my cue from Miss Major. The Advocate was excellent training — in advocacy, journalism, and truth-telling — for the battles ahead. I’m just going to stay here and fight. That’s all I know to do.

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