Much has been written lately about the “death of the LGBT press” as more queer newspapers bite the dust and more queer people get our news and information from the Internet. In fact, LGBT papers are very resilient. Not counting the Advocate, which only survives as a magazine adjunct to Out, there are many LGBT papers which have survived years, even decades: Bay Area Reporter, Philadelphia Gay News, Seattle Gay News and Washington Blade, just to name a few.
Even last year’s big casualty, Los Angeles’s Frontiers news magazine, was a victim of business malpractice, not changing tastes. To the previously-named successes we should add South Florida Gay News (SFGN), now celebrating its seventh anniversary serving this area’s LGBT community. Though it will be a while before SFGN matches the endurance of Miami’s the weekly news (twn), which survived for 29 years (1977-2006), it is surely heading in the right direction. For its success we should give credit where credit is due: to publisher Norm Kent and to the staff members, writers, advertisers and the community that it serves.
I did not have the opportunity to write for Norm’s first journal, Express Gay News, because I was writing for twn during the years of the Express’s success. But I was without a local outlet in late 2009 when Norm announced his new paper, to be named South Florida Gay News. I immediately jumped at Norm’s offer to write for SFGN, with the title of Senior Features Correspondent, an honor that I share with my friend Tony Adams.
Though my life has had its ups and downs during the past seven years, my work for SFGN has been an almost-constant high. Under the leadership of Norm and brilliant editors like Joey Amato and Jason Parsley, SFGN is a welcoming forum for freelancers, even for those who, like me, have written for other publications throughout the years.
Though I regularly contribute to special issues of SFGN, like the annual “Out 50” or “Best of” issues, most readers know me for my “Jesse’s Journal” columns, a series that began in twn back in the year 1980.
My editors have kindly allowed me to write about anything I want, with the condition that it be something that appeals to our mostly-LGBT readers. During my seven years with SFGN I have written about accordions (my partner was an accordionist), Juan Ahonen-Jover, AIDS Books, AIDS Day, the Ali Forney Center, the LGBT “alphabet soup,” animals, Argentina and astrology - and that is just the A’s! I seldom write about personal topics, though I had to write about my parents when I covered the recent death of the former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Four years ago, when my partner Michael Greenspan developed dementia - an increasingly common condition as members of our community get older - I wrote about it as a form of catharsis. Today Michael lives in a nursing home, unaware of the world around him, but I think I will show him a copy of this issue, just to remind him and me of days gone by.
Where do we go from here? Doomsayers promise disaster with the rise of Donald Trump and his cadre of homophobic billionaires, but I do not despair. We survived Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and I am certain we will survive the Age of Trump. Meanwhile, the “tabloid president” and his entourage are sure to give us writers something to squawk about, even as we reach for our blood pressure medicine. And SFGN will be there to cover it all. I can hardly wait.