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Pride Media Execs Reiterate Support for LGBTQ Community

Pride Media Execs Reiterate Support for LGBTQ Community

Chairman Adam Levin and CEO Nathan Coyle address questions raised by a recent Women's Wear Daily story.

Adam Levin, chairman of the board of The Advocate's parent company, Pride Media, wants readers to know he is as supportive of LGBTQ rights as anyone.

That it was ever called into question was due to a recent Women's Wear Daily story on the company that noted Levin's past political donations to certain Republican politicians, such as U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes of California, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who at one point sought a U.S. Senate nomination. Nunes and Mandel have poor records on LGBTQ rights; Heller's is mixed.

But Levin told The Advocate that his donations to them and other politicians were informed by their support for Israel, and that at the time he was unaware of their anti-LGBTQ positions. Also, he notes, he has donated to many progressive Democrats who are both strongly pro-Israel and some of the biggest LGBTQ supporters in politics.

These include U.S. Rep Adam Schiff of California, who has a string of perfect 100 scores on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard; California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who briefly legalized same-sex marriages as mayor of San Francisco in 2004 and will likely be California's next governor; and California Treasurer John Chiang. He was also campaign manager for Democrat Dan Adler's 36th Congressional District bid in a 2011 special election.

Levin pointed out these donations in a letter to the editor posted on WWD's website Wednesday. "The article makes the connection that my support of a few Republican politicians somehow means I am against the community we serve and have invested heavily in. It fails to mention my support of extremely progressive Democrats, or my involvement in any left-leaning events or organizations, for that matter." The organizations include AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and recently, Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York City. He also, he told The Advocate, has been a mentor to JQ International, a Los Angeles-area group that promotes the healthy integration of LGBTQ and Jewish identities.

Levin's investment firm, Oreva Capital, and a consortium of management from the various publications acquired The Advocate, Out, Pride, Plus, Out Traveler, and other properties of Here Publishing a year ago. The properties have been rebranded as Pride Media.

"When I decided to lead the purchase of the largest collection of LGBTQ publications, I knew I would be signing up not just for one of the most important movements of this era, but for battles against forces of hate and anger who work to suppress the rights of members in the communities we serve," Levin wrote in his WWD letter.

"As a person of Jewish descent, I am intimately familiar with hatred and stereotypes, which is why I understand and fight for equality for others, including the LGBTQ community," he continued in the letter. "It's why I've empowered my staff at Pride Media, and why in the past I've dropped everything to help run a political campaign for a Democrat seeking a seat in Congress."

In his interview with The Advocate, Levin, who is straight, noted that he grew up in a diverse enclave of Los Angeles and has always had many LGBTQ friends as well as family members from the community. Being anti-LGBTQ "is just not what Maxx and I stand for," he said, referring to Maxx Abramowitz, his brother who is also part of the ownership group.

Levin's involvement with LGBTQ publications, he said, "has made me research all the people I have donated to and specifically their opinions on the LGBT community. ... Today my interests include the LGBT community more than ever before."

He noted that he doesn't have to agree with every politician on every stance, but he does want to foster dialogue across political lines and try to find common ground. He characterizes himself as conservative on some issues, especially fiscal ones. "Socially, I'm as far left as it gets," he added.

Another of Levin's key political issues is cannabis legalization, as one might expect given that he is an owner of High Times, a publication for cannabis users. The magazine once lauded U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a deeply anti-LGBTQ Republican from California, for his pro-cannabis stances, something that was mentioned in the WWD story. Levin was quick to point out that he has never donated to Rohrabacher, however, and finds his homophobic ideology repugnant.

Regarding anti-LGBTQ political moves in general, such as recent attacks on the transgender community, Levin said, "I find it disgusting and hurtful that people still have those backward views."

Nathan Coyle, the CEO of Pride Media, said the original WWD article didn't tell the whole story, and he saw its publication of Levin's letter as an admission of that. "I'm very pleased they published his letter," Coyle said.

Coyle, who is gay, likewise noted that Levin was unaware of certain politicians' anti-LGBTQ views at the time of his donations. He compared the situation of that of a friend of his who had long contributed to the Salvation Army, without knowing of the charity's homophobic ideology. "When we don't know everything, sometimes we do things we regret," he said.

Coyle also pointed out that Levin and other members of the ownership group have never tried to interfere with the political reporting of their publications. The publications "have been pretty outspoken and critical about some Republican politicians," he said. The Advocate and its sibling publications are not allied with any political party, but, as Coyle noted, it's a fact of life that most Democrats support LGBTQ rights and most Republicans do not.

(The publications also have noted exceptions within the parties; in Congress, for instance, they include pro-LGBTQ Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, retiring this year, and anti-LGBTQ Democrat Dan Lipinski of Illinois, likely to be reelected.)

Levin and Coyle both said they want to see the publications of Pride Media continue to be a strong and influential voice for the LGBTQ community. Levin added that his investment in the publications should also allay any fears that he is anti-LGBTQ. "I risked a lot by investing in this company," he said. "It's as big an investment as I've ever made. If I was really anti-LGBT, would I do that?"

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