Scroll To Top

A revolution
properly punctuated

A revolution
properly punctuated

An Advocate copy editor delineates her place in the gay rights movement

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 stilllook for my name in the masthead from time to time--and only occasionally to ensure that it's spelled correctly.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Teresa Morrison