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Editor's Letter

Editor's Letter


Editor in chief Jon Barrett talks about The Advocate 's Forty Under 40 issue.

I was caught by surprise the other night when, at a dinner party (with a fairly well-educated group of people), the woman next to me asked what I did for a living and then, after I told her, asked, "What's The Advocate ?" It's not that I presume everybody I run into is going to know about this magazine. And, in fact, it wasn't that question that caught me off guard; it was what she asked next. After I described The Advocate to her, I proceeded to tell her about the issue we were currently working on -- this summer double issue -- and how on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall we were featuring 40 accomplished gay men and lesbians under the age of 40, people who owe at least part of their success to what happened at the Stonewall Inn 40 years ago.

That's when she asked, "What's Stonewall?"

It reminded me of an interview previous Advocate editor in chief Judy Wieder conducted with Diana Ross just months after Matthew Shepard was murdered. When Judy asked the gay icon about the gay martyr, Ross replied, "I don't know that name." How could she not know about Matthew Shepard? I thought at the time. The answer, I suppose, is quite simple: Nobody ever told her.

What's more important is that Judy then had the opportunity to tell Miss Ross about the 21-year-old gay man who had just been beaten and left to die tied to a fence just outside Laramie, Wyo., just as I suddenly had the unexpected chance to talk with my dinner companion about one of the most seminal moments in gay history.

What's so amazing about the man on this cover -- Dustin Lance Black -- is that he wrote a screenplay that educated millions of people about Harvey Milk and the triumphant and tragic times he represents. Then, as he accepted the Academy Award for best original screenplay, he explained to millions and millions of others the importance of acceptance of and equality for gay people. After watching Black's speech that night, I turned to my boyfriend and said, "He just said more -- to more people -- than anybody ever has."

The 39 other people on our Forty Under 40 list don't have Black's platform (not yet, anyway), but they're conveying the same message every day. And since you're reading this magazine, I'm pretty certain you're doing the same. That's why I wanted to make sure this list wasn't called the Forty Under 40. Thanks to Stonewall, Harvey Milk, and activists like Dustin Lance Black, there are way too many qualified candidates out there for us to ever cap a comprehensive list at 40.

At this rate, I might be the person asking questions at the next dinner party.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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