Gay people got the short end of the equality stick this year. While we've been snubbed repeatedly on the civil -rights front (thanks to Prop. 8, Question 1, and the just-you-wait sentiment on Capitol Hill), gay-owned businesses have faced the full -- and very equal -- brunt of one of the worst economic environments our country's ever seen.
The reality of this recession hit gay and lesbian consumers hard this morning, with the news that Window Media was closing half a dozen newspapers across the country, including the Washington Blade, Atlanta's Southern Voice, Houston Voice, South Florida Blade, David Atlanta, and The 411 Magazine. These publications have been pillars in their communities for decades (for more than 40 years in the case of the Washington Blade), and their absence from newsstands across the country will leave a news hole that mainstream media will never fill. As readers of this magazine or any of Window's papers will attest, there are too many stories of gay interest that demand the kind of reporting and writing that only gay publications can provide.
There are some who faked surprise and expressed sarcastic shock in reporting today's Window news. Of course these papers are closing, they said, the golden days of gay publishing have come and gone. Gay readers are getting all the news they need from Facebook and blogs, they add.
I spend a great deal of time on Facebook, and there are more than a few blogs I take delight in on a several-times-a-day basis, but my news feed and my favorite blogs would be close to nonexistent if it weren't for the kind of content gay journalists like those at Window Media churned out. In other words, my Facebook friends could never update me on the success of a "don't ask, don't tell" repeal effort if it weren't for the gay journalists working for gay publications on Capitol Hill.
There's no denying that there's been a ground shift in the publishing world -- all of it, not just gay publishing -- and we consumers are changing the way we get our news. This requires that media companies, if they're to stay viable, be more nimble than ever -- creating newer, better, faster, flashier, and more substantial ways to present their content. That's why I'm so encouraged to hear from Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff that his staff plans to move forward with a new venture. "The Blade staff is united and ready to continue the paper's long-standing mission," Naff told Poltico.com. "The first meeting for our new venture is Tuesday, and we welcome the community's input as we move forward."
Gay media is a huge part of who we are as gay people. I say this not only as the editor in chief of the country's longest-running gay magazine, but as a guy who, as a closeted 20-something, picked up his first-ever gay newspaper, the Washington Blade, at Lambda Rising on his way home from class back in 1994. That paper was a window to how I hoped I could live someday. And now that I'm here -- now that we're all here -- I can't wait to get a peek at what Naff and his colleagues have cooked up for us next.