There was a time when I had a subscription to The Advocate, a publication that I considered to be the gay version of Time magazine. I wanted to know about what Barney Frank was up to on Capitol Hill, kept up with Larry Kramer’s provocative antics and I read about bigger theatrical productions (think Tony Kushner) and lesser ones while also getting the scoop on mediocre-but-hey-it’s-gay movies like “Jeffrey”.
I am dating myself.
As many print magazines have folded, others have reduced their publication schedule. Alas, for example, GQ is now seasonal instead of monthly, but I liked it better when pretty male models graced the cover instead of celebrities. Again, dating myself. The Advocate, in turn, has gone from bi-weekly to bi-monthly. As with so many once-prospering publications, The Advocate has tried to remain au courant with extra online content.
I check in with www.advocate.com about once a week. Sadly, I have a clear sense of which posts are the lesser read pieces—the ones I happen to click to get some LGBT news and commentary. I am increasingly annoyed by other posts, the ones that no doubt get more traffic and drive up advertising revenue. I roll my eyes and remind myself content is pragmatically chosen. So much of the magazine business has to do with advertising dollars, even more so now that physical subscriptions have sharply declined. News about atrocities in Chechnya gets space on the website because thousands of site visitors clicked on shirtless photos of “Bears in Boston”. So real news coexists with lighter fare. So light it gets that lite spelling, as when we refer to cottage cheese. I continue to live in The World of Wishful Thinking where a national publication on LGBT news, opinion and entertainment can be just that, where readers are drawn to the reporting, the challenging perspectives and the writing. Many would say that was never The Advocate, but its 1990s version was far closer to that aspiration than the current incarnation. I mourn a little every time I visit the site.
One day last week—okay, full confession, it was Friday and, yes, I had nothing to do—I did some headline sorting on the website: articles I’d click, articles that make me lose faith, and harmless articles that might appeal to both news geeks and those seeking to be titillated. (Note that I copied the headlines as they appeared on the site, inhaling and exhaling slowly so as not to react to glaring inconsistencies in The Advocate’s standards regarding capitalization rules in titles. Writing geek that I am, I had to say that! Yes, Toni Braxton, now I can “Breathe Again”.)
For folks like me (who refer to themselves as “folks”):
For the oglers and bored office workers (with very private cubicle spaces):
“Getting Slutty in Seattle in 100 Photos” It’s an easy drive from Vancouver, but this is not inspiring a visit.
“26 Things Gay Sex Workers Want You to Know” Wasn’t that a cover story for a supermarket tabloid?
“101 Photos of Leathermen on a SoCal Rampage” Ooh! The drama! Do the editors know the definition of rampage? Not clicking…
“Terry Miller in Next to Nothing for Tom of Finland Store (Photos)” Who is Terry Miller? Apparently an artist, but a quick Google search identifies him first as “Dan Savage’s husband”. Nice butt but whatever…
Fortunately, there’s some middle ground…posts that may interest a mix of Advocate browsers:
“Here’s What Allies Can Learn From ‘Love, Simon’” Yes, this movie has to be for non-gays. Am I the only one who concluded that, from the trailers, it looks like it would have been interesting thirty years ago?
“Janeane Garofalo Is Still the Voice of My Generation” Yes, she is from my generation...one week older than I am. I've loved her ever since "Reality Bites". Anyone else think she’d be perfectly cast as Ellen Page’s mother or aunt?
“Yep, I’m HIV-Positive and Happy” Sounds like something for “People” or “O” magazine, the kind of article to read in a reception area.
“This Discontinued Gay Ken Doll Will Haunt Mattel Forever” First there was Chucky, then the Bride of Chucky and now…Gay Ken. Screams and gasps! Mwah, mwah, mwah!
So which, if any, posts did you click? Which ones did you at least think of clicking? What looked boring? What generated your own case of the cringes?