Historically, the pages of print magazines were only filled with the bodies of the privileged few – usually those who are white, straight, thin, cis-gendered, and able-bodied – but a group of emerging publications are pushing the equality needle forward. While gay-focused magazines have been around for some time – for example, Outside debuted in 1992 and Condé Nast launched the digital platform Them last year – there are a number of lesser-known and more independent magazines that promote storytelling and visibility for and by LGBTQIA + people of a dynamic, authentic and non-exploitative way.
Driven by a desire to forge a real sense of belonging for their peers (and perhaps survive in a rapidly changing medium), independent queer magazines such as Posture and Drome expand beyond the limits of publishing to become multi-channel platforms that exist in a myriad of spaces. Additionally, with the powerful support of social media, these niche and underrepresented communities are strengthening their voices and building lasting relationships with loyal fans online and offline. It’s a different approach from most mainstream publications today which decline and ultimately fall back. Read on to learn more about how this LGBTQIA + focused media is leading the way.
Started as a blog in 2013 by Winter Mendelson, Posture has now grown into a digital magazine, annual print magazine, membership community, and full-service creative studio that produces podcast, events, and branding. Mendelson, who identifies as non-binary, started the platform because they didn’t see themselves reflected in the media when they got their first college degree. “There was no media focused on supporting underrepresented creatives – especially queer, non-binary and trans people – and further, [none that] focused specifically on the arts and fashion, ”they say.
The platform’s mission is to champion the voices of women, people of color and LGBTQIA + creatives, as well as foster a deeper sense of community for those who do not see themselves represented. “We count and deserve our own space to celebrate, learn from each other and feel less alone,” they explain.
With stylish interviews and profiles, both online and in print, Posture supports independent designers and the slow fashion movement. Instead of focusing on what is considered trendy or cool, the platform focuses on the voices of creatives who advance culture and have real impact. “We celebrate expression in all its forms, but we also recognize the history and the signifiers that accompany fashion and aesthetics,” they add.
Mendelson, who started to run Posture full-time in 2016, believes that while queer representation is definitely improving, there is still a lack of storytelling about the experience of non-binary and trans people. But Mendelson is hoping the platform will close the gap on those narratives and is looking to commission more photojournalism projects and essays as funding for Posture increases. Currently, the magazine relies on its membership community, print sales and brand partnerships. He has also partnered with big brands on projects that bring “company awareness and insight to more business environments,” such as Mastercard, HBO and Techhub.
Noting a lack of convincing and non-exploitative media on LGBTQ artists, Caroline D’Arcy Gorman decided to launch Drome in 2015 as a space where young artists who challenge standards can come together and share their work. In 2016, friend Satchel Lee became Gorman’s business partner and co-creative director.
Based in New York, the founders describe Drome as a “queer-positioned online and print magazine” with contributors from around the world who can be found via Instagram and through submissions. (Funding comes from sales, advertising, and partnerships.) When it comes to telling stories about the queer community, Lee says the overall perception is sometimes reductive and what queer representation still lacks in mainstream media is “full acceptance rather than tolerance”. From this, the founders hope that Drome is a place where people can see someone different from themselves while being inspired and excited.
Stories from the publication highlight the importance of fashion to the queer community: an article from the latest issue, titled “Fluid future,“explores the fluidity of genres in collaboration with some of the team’s favorite designers who challenge the genre binary, such as Cheng-Huai Chuang, Wardements, Laurence & Chico, Luar, Vasilis Loizides, Maison the Faux and Private Policy.
To date, the team has published three annual print issues and will begin publishing monthly covers online in January 2019. Drome Also hosts parties and events, launched a podcast and video series, and produced two shows at New York Fashion Week. Lee and D’Arcy Gorman also have big plans to open up a physical creative space, launch a clothing brand, make films, produce music, and start a creative agency.
Launched two years ago in Cape Town, South Africa by Michael Oliver Love, Thought is a response to the founder’s desire for “more gentleness in men’s fashion”. Love, who studied gender studies in college and did a postgraduate degree in marketing, also drew on her affinity for imagery that pushes the boundaries of what is seen as masculine and feminine, as well as his personal education. Growing up in a small town, Love was surrounded by narrow-minded thinkers who promoted conservative gender ideologies. He hopes his digital magazine will combat this thought.
“I think it’s good for people to see a different story, a different kind of masculinity in itself, so it doesn’t seem that weird to be a little weird, ”says the founder. Along with contributors around the world, Love believes Pansy represents something totally different from what we’re used to seeing in mainstream media, becoming a platform that shares content that might not be published or seen otherwise.
Currently, the platform is fully self-funded and run by Love, which hopes to acquire advertisers and bring together an editorial team. The first printed issue, released earlier this year, can be purchased on the site journal website.
While studying fashion at university in the UK, Marvin Maddix noticed a lack of opportunities in the industry for young graduates and young talents to showcase their work, and decided to launch FGUK Magazine, short for UK Fashion Glossary, in 2013.
Put people at the center of their stories, FGUK focuses on the power of love, support and freedom of speech. “While the media can sometimes turn away from politics and sit on the fence, we seek to educate and become the voice of game changers, influencers and future thinkers,” Maddix said.
With an online magazine and a biannual paper edition, FGUK addresses relevant topics: LGBTQ + issues and visibility, black male masculinity and the female voice. A part of FGUKBest Stories from includes an article on queer drag in Jamaica and trans rights in Brazil favelas, or low income areas.
Maddix also points out that while gay conversations have steadily increased, brands and social media have been at fault for exploiting the movement. “Instagram has turned this real topic touching millions of people into a monetized marketing strategy,” says Maddix. “But it still keeps the conversation going and that’s the most important.” To combat this, he says the media needs to highlight true stories about gay individuals, not just those with big followers and likes.
For FGUK Magazine, fashion is a vehicle for changing the world, promoting the belief that clothing can change cultural perspectives and make people feel real. Although FGUK Magazine already has distribution in some stores in UK, Europe and USA, Maddix hopes to do more events, collaborations and even open a physical store.
Founded in 2013 by André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh and Kyle Banks, The tenth describes himself as “black, gay and indifferent”. The New York-based platform focuses on storytelling by and for black, brown and gay individuals, creating digital and physical spaces dedicated to their own self-expression. Work through imagery, text, fashion and culture, The tenth also explores the history of the black gay community as a counterpart to most mainstream narratives, which have largely focused on stories surrounding gay white men for some time.
In an interview with NPR, Septh said the magazine’s subject matter was not limited to queer black men alone. Rather, it aims to reflect “the multiplicity of our identities, the layers of our lives” with stories about queer black women, trans people, white people and straight people. The co-founders also expressed their difficulty in finding advertising funds and brand partners willing to support their vision. However, they have since partnered with brands such as Ace Hotel, Hendrick’s Gin, and HBO.
“Cake Boy Magazine”
Launched in 2015 by Sean Santiago, Cakeboy Magazine takes its name from a line in the movie “Clueless”. Santiago, who lives in New York and was recently chosen by Phillip Picardi as the new artistic director of Outside, found he wanted to tell niche and compelling stories about the queer and gender nonconforming community. At the time, Santiago realized that creating Cakeboy would allow more freedom to showcase the voices and style of those in the community who were not profiled in an authentic and original way.
Today, three years later, Santiago and his creative team remain committed to this mission, both in print and online. The magazine releases a new issue each fall and spring, with some of its features also on the digital site. Cakeboy has a strong focus on fashion editorials, as well as deepening topical conversations with important people, such as the writer and critic Andrea Long Chu for its latest issue.
According to Santiago, the magazine wants to reach its audience in a very specific way and cut the noise from the mainstream media. “We’re really not for straight guys and that’s our big selling point for us,” he explains. All CakeboyS numbers can be purchased online from its website and are also available at specialty bookstores, boutiques and other resellers around the world. Santiago plans to continue growing Cakeboy across Europe in 2019, thanks to a partnership with a new distributor.