Happy Birthday, Friend.

Turning 40 is a big deal. It’s when you’ve finally hit your stride. It’s when stability and consistency become reality rather than myth. It’s when you can relax because you’ve finally got things mastered.      

The September 25, 2007 issue marks the 40th birthday of The Advocate. Its cover boldly exclaims, “40 years, 40 heroes.” And its audience will now boldly ask, “That’s it?”

The Advocate is arguably the most visible source of anything LGBT and yet the 40-year anniversary issue is not even half as thick as, say, the latest Vanity Fair. What gives?

Size aside, the issue provides a riveting look at queer life over the last 40 years, devoting sections to the significant events and people over the last four decades. In a conjoint effort with its readership, the magazine lists off heroes that are both well-known, like Ellen, and those that often go overlooked, like Mark Bingham, one of the people to interfere with terrorists in the air on Sept. 11. It’s this attention to the unsung heroes and everyday community that served The Advocate well over the last 40 years.

For all the space this issue focuses on the past, it focuses just as much on the present and future. Part 2 covers three distinct Americans who exemplify just how far the LGBT community has come, and there is even a page on openly gay mayors. In part 3, the future prospects of the community are explored in a survey of influential minds in the community. A focus on some new and emerging action groups shows the diverse nature of LGBT people today.         

And yet, perhaps the most fascinating feature of all is the segment that profiles covers the magazine has produced over the years in an issue-by-issue look at some of the best and most provocative work of LPI Media. It seems clear that color and use of space have become more important to The Advocate. As the years have progressed, the magazine has become more colorful and the covers have tended to leave less and less white space. It’s almost too much, and possibly the reason why one competitor – Instinct – has adopted a simpler and less cluttered design. Of course, their design also includes half-naked men most of the time, so maybe a nice set of abs requires less type.

According to the history section of the company that owns LPI Media and The Advocate, Planet Out, the magazine started as “a 12-page paper laid out with a typewriter, with 500 copies printed on cheap 8-1/2 x 11-inch stock.” So, while 40 years ago it was a newsletter targeted at Los Angeles gays, now it’s the most well-known publication in a very full and varied niche market. Oh, and it’s a magazine – pretty important considering how distinct magazines and newspapers have each become since 1967.

So, Happy Birthday to you, The Advocate. You’re not perfect, but you’re as good as LGBT media gets, and for that you deserve to be commended.

– Brandon Miller


1 Response to “Happy Birthday, Friend.”

  1. 1 daisyjane108 October 5, 2007 at 3:42 am

    What a sweet birthday card to The Advocate. I like that you are constructively critical and sincere at the same time. Looking forward to more!

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