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Why LGBTQ+ Design Matters

Daniel Reynolds

When my partner and I first moved to Los Angeles from New York City about a decade ago, we didn’t bring any furniture. We also didn’t know how long we’d stay in the City of Angels — or frankly, how long we’d stay with each other. Our apartment’s amenities consisted of a bed, a table, and plenty of room for the dreams to dwell.

We ended up staying, in both senses. And the space filled in. A painting, a plant, a neon flamingo. This process had a joy to it, like pieces fitting into a puzzle that was slowly coming into shape. Our space came to reflect our loves and our lives. And in the process, it became a haven for us and those we loved as well.

The theme of Out's September/October issue is Design. But what does that entail, exactly? As a verb, “design” means “to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan,” according to Merriam-Webster. As you’ll see in the pages of this issue, these actions can apply to materials and movements alike.

Naturally, there are several features on interior design, with stunning photo spreads of spaces beautified by members of the LBGTQ+ community. More importantly, you’ll hear from the out designers themselves. David Lucas left an architecture firm to find acceptance in the design community with his sisters in the Pacific Northwest. Husbands PJ and Thomas McKay renovated houses while building a home for their adopted children in their small Tennessee town. And Rayman Boozer, one of New York City’s most esteemed designers, is fighting to make the industry more inclusive of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC folks — in addition to convincing clients to embrace color.

But the power of queer design is not contained to interiors. Muralist Lauren YS paints large-scale dreamscapes (pictured above, right) that rise up against hate from the walls of buildings. Las Vegas chef Gina Marinelli transforms a bare plate into a sumptuous canvas for cuisine. Chucky creator Don Mancini crafted a creepy doll that still thrills horror fans today.

As LGBTQ+ people, we were born into a world not designed for us. But we learned how to carve out a space from pioneers like Pauli Murray. This attorney, activist, and priest is now receiving much-deserved, posthumous recognition for their role in major civil rights legal victories of the 20th and 21st centuries. We included a review of the new documentary about Murray.

And of course, there’s our cover star, Ben Platt. In our interview, we spoke about the making of his career as a gay actor and singer. It’s bound to be a big year for the Dear Evan Hansen star. After sculpting the role of Evan Hansen in workshops and birthing him on Broadway, Ben is bringing the character to life on the big screen in a performance that will break your heart. Hopefully, after a lost year, it will also make you feel that “you will be found,” as the musical’s lyrics say.

There’s more to design in these pages: beauty, fashion, gender-inclusive sex toys. In a meta sense, there’s also the magazine itself. This is my first letter as Out’s editor in chief. I hope that I and my team, including creative director Ben Ward and editorial director Diane Anderson-Minshall, have designed an issue that entertains and edifies you. We will continue to strive to do so in the future. (On the business side, you should also know that, beginning in 2022, Out issues will be redesigned to be strictly bimonthly: January/February, March/April, etc. This will not impact the number of issues, but the expiration date for your orders will be moved to this format.)

As for my own designs? I plan to make you proud.

Sincerely,

Daniel Reynolds
Editor in Chief

This article is part of Out's 2021 Design issue, which is now out on newsstands. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News. 

Related | How Dear Evan Hansen's Ben Platt Came to Embrace Being an Out Movie Star 

Tags: Print, Design, Art

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