To mark Out’s 30th anniversary, former editors share stories from their most memorable issues. Get under the covers with them in the following piece.
This article is part of Out's July/August 2022 issue, now on newsstands. Support queer media and subscribe — or download the issue through Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.
My first issue of Out, as editorial director, was produced during a crazy time! I was editor in chief of The Advocate when our publisher bought Out. For months, I was straddling two jobs while most of the original Out staff quit in a huff. I knew the first issue under new management had to be amazing. I believe it was, despite a circus of Page Six histrionics and late staffing miracles. We landed Dolce & Gabbana for their first cover story interview in an LGBTQ+ publication. The story was picked up worldwide. I hired Gregory Wein back to Out as fashion editor, and things took off. Fashion had not been an area of great interest to me before Out, but I immediately fell madly in love with the art and theater behind every stitch.
The 2018 Out100 issue tops the list as a momentous labor of love, and it was a career milestone for me to produce it as Out's lead editor. There's always a story behind every honoree and photograph, but this time, in a span of just two months, our photographer, Martin Schoeller, shot 109 people in five cities across two continents; our editorial team handled intense logistics and interviewed every subject; and we curated what was then the most diverse Out100 in history — all while sending two other issues to press in the process. From our cover stars to all of our honorees, this issue was a creative thrill ride to develop.... For me, the issue continues to carry a legacy that s both triumphant and bittersweet in terms of where the honorees are now: Jesse James Keitel, for example, has gone on to star in major shows like Big Sky and the Queer as Folk remake; cover star Sophie is tragically no longer with us; Law Roach has arguably become the biggest stylist in the industry; and Billy Porter, whose cover story was his first for Out and one of his first major cover stories, period, has proceeded to conquer the world. Who could have foreseen Porter's second act of global domination? We did, of course.
If you want to know what it was like to be an editor of Out in 2006, when I arrived at the magazine for what would become a 12 year stint, imagine going into a Hudson News and seeing Out high up on the shelf, often behind the opaque plastic section reserved for porn mags, while other culture and fashion titles were given pride of place at eye level. It was a state of affairs my editorial team and I were determined to challenge, in part by bringing in long form serious journalism – sending writers to cover LGBTQ+ rights in Iran, in Russia, in India – and in part by establishing the Out100 as a seminal issue, for which we photograph. But I still recall the weekend we arrived in D.C. to photograph President Obama for the cover of the December 2015 issue, and followed it the day after by photographing trans veterans in the military, and realizing that some kind of rubicon had been crossed whereby our community was finally being accorded the acknowledgement it deserved.
Holding court with Stonewall veteran Miss Major, feminist icon Barbra Smith, and fine artist Mickalene Thomas wasnt just a highlight of my career, it was also a highlight of my life. Our very special March 2019 issue — the first time no men appeared in Out's pages or credits — was history-making and life-giving. Janet Mock and Raquel Willis teamed up to create editorial and visuals that continue to be shared, admired, and rightfully treasured. It was a powerful lesson to me and the other gay men on our team that we can show up in a multitude of ways for our community, sometimes more powerfully when we work behind the scenes to amplify those whose work has made our liberties a possibility.
Out's 2021 Travel issue was a significant milestone for me as an editor, a journalist, and an activist for social change. The cover story, a nine month investigation inside the Venezuelan refugee crisis written by Taylor Hirschberg and photographed by Cody Mann, exposed the atrocities and discrimination LGBTQ+ people — specifically trans women and those living with HIV — face at the hands of their governments in that part of the world. As a first generation Costa Rican, it was especially meaningful to dedicate the issue to the millions of queer people displaced around the world and to the brave activists who've dedicated their lives to help the cause. While it was an uphill battle behind the scenes to get the story published, I'm extremely grateful to the Pride Media team who rallied behind me in helping to elevate the conversation about this most vulnerable population.