Media: Gay Press - Gay magazines come out fighting/As homosexuality becomes more mainstream and advertisers target the pink pound, the gay press is presenting a different face to the world

The gay press has evolved massively in the last ten years, in parallel with the gay scene itself. And the expectation is that the publication of a new monthly newsstand title, Fluid, is further proof of the way that the market is catching up with the more crowded, straight publishing arena.

The gay press has evolved massively in the last ten years, in

parallel with the gay scene itself. And the expectation is that the

publication of a new monthly newsstand title, Fluid, is further proof of

the way that the market is catching up with the more crowded, straight

publishing arena.

Although titles such as the Gay Times and Diva claim to encourage their

readers to take a polticial stand, a pattern for gay magazines has

emerged over the past few years now. Magazines look increasingly less

like the newssheets of a marginalised fringe who wear their sexuality

like a badge, and look more like mainstream publications with general

interest features for readers who just happen to be gay.

Fluid from Chronos Publishing - which publishes the free gay weekly The

Pink Paper - is a new lifestyle magazine for gay men and women, very

much in the mould of Northern and Shell’s successful Attitude magazine.

Fluid aims to take an entertaining but informative and direct approach

with a tone that is described by its editor as ’a little sarcastic and


Attitude, which is now five years old claims that one third of its sales

are overseas and claims to attract more mainstream advertisers than the

usual phone lines and clubs.

The move away from a strictly gay editorial agenda has come about as

advertisers have become less wary of advertising to attract the pink

pound, and have seen just how lucrative a market it is. Hence, Gay Times

now carries advertisements for estate agents beside the gay phone sex


Despite no accurate data as to how big the gay publication market is,

the consensus is that there is still room for further growth. Gay Times

and Attitude both claim circulations of around 70,000, with the lesbian

title Diva, claiming half that number.

When you consider the size of the market it is important that you also

bear in mind that it has only been three decades since male

homosexuality was decriminalised. Publishers say that even five years

ago, it was difficult to persuade outlets such as John Menzies and WH

Smith to stock gay magazines.

Despite the changes and the huge increase in the confidence and

visibility of the gay community in recent years, launching new gay

titles is not easy. Two - Phase and Bona - have tried and failed in the

last decade.

Whether Fluid goes the same way should be a good indication of how far

the gay publishing market has matured.


Circulation: Not yet available

Frequency: Monthly

Editor: Cary James

’Fluid launched last May as a free publication focusing on nightlife and

music. The new format, the first to be paid-for, has just been published

and has a much broader approach.

’The explosion in the gay scene in the last few years means there is a

gap in the market for another title, a fresh voice, something more

honest - this is what we hope Fluid will provide. Our reader is 20-plus,

he has maybe been through some of the wildness of youth and now

recognises there is more to life than the ’scene’. We cater for women

too, and we want to reflect the fact that gay people’s sense of

themselves has changed in the 1990s - they think of themselves as

individuals first and gay second.’


Circulation: 35,000

Frequency: Monthly

Editor: Gillian Rodgerson

’Diva is five years old, the 50th issue comes out this year. It is the

only national magazine aimed exclusively at lesbians and our core

readership is probably 18 to 40.

Magazines exclusively for lesbians are still a relatively new thing.

We try to entertain our readers and give them information they want. The

most important thing is to make people feel happy and positive about

being a lesbian - a lot can feel quite isolated.

’We do not do too much on celebrities and do not interview straight

women. This year we will be having a re-design to freshen the magazine

up. There will be more coverage of the ’scene’ and we will also juice up

the music coverage.’


Circulation: 70,000

Frequency: Monthly

Editor: Colin Richardson

’Gay Times is not far away from its 260th issue. Ninety per cent of our

readers are men between 16 and 60 and they are incredibly loyal. I would

say we are the gay title that has the most serious news coverage.

’The gay press has become much more lifestyle-based. There is still a

need for a gay news magazine because there is still extraordinary

prejudice around. There need to be magazines that counter that and

generate a sense of anger.

’We are also the only magazine that puts the word ’gay’ on the cover

which means that buying the Gay Times still requires courage. Because of

that we are often a first point of contact for people coming out.’


Circulation: 70,000

Frequency: Mmonthly

Editor: Adam Mattera

’Our typical reader is an 18-to 35-year-old gay man, although sometimes

when we have a particularly good cover with a mainstream person on it,

quite a few women buy the magazine.

’The thing that separates us from the other gay press is that we are not

as ghettoised - we have lifestyle, fashion and celebrity coverage.

Our advertising is also more mainstream. Attitude was the first to be

like this - it was different from Gay Times which has lots of

information, and is a bit like a manual for gay life. We are more like a

magazine for urban young men who happen to be gay. We like to think we

are more comparable to magazines such as FHM and The Face.’

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