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A revolution
properly punctuated

A revolution
            properly punctuated

The Advocate isn’t the only
one turning 40 around here. I too was born in
1967, just a couple of months after the
magazine’s first cover date, and I hope I
don’t seem presumptuous when I say that the old
girl was founded just for me, more or less. As I
emerged from that first, warmest closet,
The Advocate, still a whelp itself,
was already agitating for my civil rights—way
before I was aware any were lacking. And by the
time I came out of that other closet, at the tardy
old age of 25—oh, hell yeah, I was
so the last one to
know—the brick-and-mortar foundations of the gay
rights movement had been laid. A pretty sweet deal
for me, really.

I think it’s only appropriate that I now work for
The Advocate, given that it’s
worked for me damn near its entire life. Let your
eye travel down the masthead—just a little
farther—and you’ll find me there
among the copyediting staff.
Mine isn’t such a
glamorous job, jockeying all those commas into
place, ensuring that our subjects’ names
are spelled correctly, repeatedly visiting the hateful
Web sites of Focus on the Family, Ann Coulter,
Fred Phelps, and myriad antigay minions to make
sure they actually said
that. It’s unlikely that my own 40th birthday
will be marked with the same level of pomp as The Advocate’s, which is a
shame, because I’d love to hear what Nancy
Pelosi and Joan Jett have to say about
me and what my life has meant to them. I
could coattail my own birthday party on the
magazine’s 40th anniversary gala, which boasts an
impressive RSVP list and is almost certain to be
free of hilarious “over the hill”
balloons. Having my 40th toasted by Ellen and that
strapping hunk of lesbian hotness Jane Lynch would
totally make up for the fact that Deepak Chopra
wasn’t asked to predict
my future.

But I like to think that what The Advocate and I truly share,
other than a birth year, is a willingness, even
eagerness, to sift through these last four decades
to create a record of where we’ve been, who
we are, and what we hope to be.
With any luck, we can all take
a measure of comfort in the idea that the more
turbulent elements of our past—successes,
failures, half measures, and missteps—have been
in the service of creating a legacy, and
that’s where this magazine strikes such a
resonant chord in me.

Just as I consider The Advocate very much a part of my
legacy—advancing my rights even during
those first 25 years when, sure, some of my best friends
were gay, but I was still steadfastly identifying
as oblivious—I’m now part of its legacy.

Working for The Advocatemakes me proud, and that pride
very nearly overwhelmed me as I worked on our 40th
anniversary issue. It was a quiet sort of
overwhelm, mind you—we copy editors tend to be
quiet folk—but it spoke loudly of the
reasons this is more than just a job to me. The first
time I saw my name on the masthead, however far the eye
had to travel to find it, I felt a swell of
emotion, like I had become part of something so
much larger than myself. I mean, listen, I know that in
the scope of the movement I’m no Barbara
Gittings, but surely I’ve earned a rainbow
stripe or two for making certain her name is spelled
correctly every time it crosses my desk.

I may be roundly
ridiculed for having written this; copy editors are
meant to be a cynical lot, not given to all this
emotional incontinence and masthead pride. We need
a good poker face, because it’s far too easy to
fret that we’re noted more often for our
failures—the factual errors and typos that slip
through, the sentence we tweaked for clarity that, as it
turns out, was the author’s very most
favorite sentence in the whole article (I’m
sorry)—than for any routine competence, and even
passion, we may bring to each issue. But I
honestly don’t think of my job in terms of the
day-to-day tasks that have the capacity to alternately
engage and enrage me. Rather, I like to think that
in the long view I help to make each article and
each issue just a little bit better, and that in doing
so I help to further the mission of the magazine
and, yeah, even the movement. The truth is, a
hundred or so issues into my tenure here, I still
look for my name in the
masthead from time to time—and only
occasionally to ensure that it’s spelled correctly.

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