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Out to change the
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Out to change the
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Judy Wieder has led many lives. In her office next to mine at LPI Media, where she was editorial director until March 22, as this issue went to press, she had a bulletin board of photos of herself with gay newsmakers from Gore Vidal to Rosie O'Donnell to Jim McGreevey. She also had a photo of Michael Jackson as a boy, sitting next to a young white woman with a giant curly do.

That too was Judy Wieder, circa 1971, when she started Right On! magazine.

It's appropriate that this is The Advocate's annual Music Issue, because music led Judy to journalism. A Grammy-winning songwriter, Judy took up reporting on her fellow musicians as a sideline, then as a mainline. The 1980s found her riding on tour buses with "hair bands" on assignment for Creem magazine. In 1991 she became founding editor in chief of the first glossy national gay lifestyle magazine, Genre.

Two years later she joined The Advocate, where she was this magazine's first female editor in chief, from 1996 through 2002.

In 1997, when I was executive editor at Out (at the time, The Advocate's separately owned rival), Judy and I got to hang out for the first time on a gay press trip to Amsterdam. Judy was the trip's star--all the Dutch media wanted to talk to the editor in chief of The Advocate. She took it all in stride, traipsed about Amsterdam dutifully with the rest of us, and rushed back to her hotel room frequently to supervise the magazine via fax and telephone.

A year and a half later, Judy hired me as her executive editor. The idea to bring me aboard, she once told me, took root at an Out party in Los Angeles that I had skipped and Judy had felt compelled to attend. When she asked a former colleague at the event where I was, he told her drily, "Bruce? Oh, he's too serious." To Judy, that was a compliment.

The woman from the hair-band bus, the woman who needed stitches on her 60th birthday because of a spill from her surfboard in Hawaii--Judy knows how to have fun. But running the oldest LGBT magazine was always a serious business for her. Her readers were like her children: She knew they'd change the world if they simply had the right inspiration and information.

Judy has the best mind I've ever encountered for getting behind and in front of the news. She'd read an item in the newspaper and days later The Advocate's "Why Are We Gay?" cover story would be well under way. She'd get a "no, thank you" from Anne Heche's handlers shortly after Heche began publicly dating Ellen DeGeneres, and she'd turn rejection into a best-selling cover story with Heche's photo: "Beyond Bi."

We'll miss that mind as we carry on here at The Advocate, and we'll miss Judy's heart as well. Because not only does she "get" the news, she feels it to her soul. She feels the pain of tens of thousands lost to AIDS; of LGBT people brutally murdered; of lesbian moms who lose custody; of gay teens kicked out home, school, college, church. And she feels the joy of tens of thousands enjoying the 2000 Equality Rocks concert, of gay families laughing, playing, and traveling together.

Sometimes, when Judy's door was closed, I imagined she was sitting quietly, looking at all those photos, wondering where the world will take us next. Because wherever Judy goes from here, she'll never stop working to make the world a better place.

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

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