Does Anyone Subscribe To Out Magazine?

A question like that might sound like a typically cynical and anti-heteronormative way to attack one of the most worthless magazines still in publication (ha, barely in publication), but, I mean it! When was the last time you paid for Out? When was the last time you read something in Out (other than what I’m about to copy and paste below)?

The problem with Out isn’t so much that it sexually objectifies straight male celebrities who are gay friendly (although that’s embarrassing enough on its own), it’s that Out still thinks gay men seek validation and acceptance from straight male celebrities. They don’t. And if you do, you shouldn’t.

This month’s issue fawns over five sports stars who all shirtlessly support gay rights, which is both a great way to sell magazines and to irresponsibly further the notion that without the help of straight “allies,” gay people will never be allowed to live the same kinds of lives that straight people do (assuming that’s what gay people want–to be like straight people). There are interviews with these men (who, to be honest, I had never heard of) and it turns out they do all kinds of nice things for the gays.


The world of pro sports is notoriously unwelcoming to out athletes, one of the last bastions of homophobia. From hate-filled fans to teammates who won’t share the showers to bigoted sportscasters, the toxic environment can ruin a career or even end a life. But at the vanguard of a move to change that is a small band of straight sports stars who have stood up for fairness and tolerance, shoulder-to-shoulder with their LGBT peers. Here, we salute them.


With a soccer ball held aloft like a trophy, Mike Chabala of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo became one of the first professional athletes to pose for the powerful NOH8 campaign. “I think all discrimination is completely wrong. I believe in equality, plain and simple,” says Chabala, which is why he was eager to pose as part of Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley’s collection.

A group of gay magazine editors canonizing a straight athlete–for what is essentially the act of not being an asshole–by making him pose with his shirt off (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) is as disingenuous as it is pathetic. And while, again, this is also about a troubled media company trying to sell magazines, there’s something especially disgusting about that company taking an issue as important and emotionally significant as gay rights and tying it to a bunch of shirtless straight guys. Yes, it is very nice that these men like me! I would like them, too, probably. What they are doing is nice. And while the touchy-feely enamoring of hot straight guys is cute, it has in fact been and will continue to be actual Gay People who do the actual work to advance gay rights in this country.

It’s the nameless, faceless, ugly, fat, depressed, hopeless, unemployed, boring gay people who protest outside city halls and state capitals and who make annoying telemarketing phone calls and who start those stupid boycotts on Facebook and who film themselves crying on YouTube and who may have tried to kill themselves once or twice who are doing the actual work, who have the most to lose, and who have put up with more bullshit and more pain than some rich soccer player who once posed with a piece of duct tape over his mouth. Out could be an okay magazine if it reminded its audience of these people, but maybe it doesn’t matter, after all. Because who really is Out’s audience? And why should anyone care what this audience, if it even exists, thinks it knows?

When was the last time you paid for Out? When was the last time you read something in Out? Hopefully, a long, long time ago, if ever. And hopefully, never again.



24 thoughts on “Does Anyone Subscribe To <em>Out Magazine</em>?”

  1. While I understand the points made in this post, I think it should be mentioned that publishing a gay magazine, in a field that is already struggling, is a formidable task. It’s a niche glossy with a limited audience and content that some advertisers (including ones who identify as gay like Dolce & Gabbana) steer away from. Add to that the fact that there aren’t a ton of big name gay celebrities, and those who are gay oftentimes don’t want their sexuality to be a prominent feature of their public persona — so who to feature? Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Chris Colfer over and over again? On top of that, like at every magazine, there are echelons of publicists, managers, agents and lawyers who all want to weigh in on the pros and cons of so strongly buoying their client to a queer magazine, its audience and the public perception of that. Putting all this in perspective should serve as a little context as to what it takes to produce a monthly magazine focused on what is still perceived by many as a controversial subculture. (Full disclosure: I work in gay media, though not at Out, so I know about the constant rejections that even gay and lesbian celebrities give — Ellen and Jane Lynch, I’m looking at you.)

    Then we get to the concept of objectifying sexy men in exchange for sales. Um, look at basically every issue of GQ or Vanity Fair — anyone remember the Glee scandal? Or July’s shirtless fashion story with Joe M (the werewolf from True Blood) or this month’s cover of a hyper-sexualized Mila Kunis? Or the Miley Cyrus photo shoot melee for Vanity Fair? Controversy and scantily clad, attractive people sell magazines — magazines cater to their audiences and have to turn a profit and answer to a financial bottom line. Period. Perhaps the audience should change its thinking and these magazines could provide more substantial, meatier stories.

  2. Yes, I have. They screwed up my subscription. I missed almost half the mags then when I asked to have it cleared up they said my annual subscription had expired. I asked more questions and to understand why I had to ‘eat’ the issues that I did not ever receive…and never heard a word back EXCEPT…
    exactly two months later I received an email from them with someone else’s customer number, name, address and phone.
    I sent this back to them asking them to correct the wrong information. One month later I received the same email with the wrong info. I just deleted it and wrote them out of my mind and my life. I only visit their website if another blog links to a story I’m interested in.

    But this is HERE. A few years ago I subscribed to their online TV programs. There were many problems with quality and other items to which their customer support never ever addressed.

    Then, being someone who likes abuse I guess, I paid the extra to Time Warner Cable to get that channel. I canceled that a month later when it was not worth the cost.

  3. This thread is kind of silly. If anyone here doesn’t realize that the conversation that needs to happen is among straight sports fans they are delusional. Michael Irvine is big news to sports fans, and the comments boards at ESPN have gone into overdrive on this story. That’s why it’s important: a black Hall of Famer talking directly to black fans, where the message is needed most. So many people here clearly don’t read magazine: I just dug out the current issue in front and the biggest story is the queer ballroom scene in the Bronx. There’s a piece on Tales of the City, the gay actor in Book of Mormon, gay novelists, and a gay dancer. And yes, this is the magazine that publishes the Out 100 every year – an amazing portfolio of 100 LGBTs. Sure, it puts straight people on the cover, but better than the straight models on most gay mags who have nothing whatsoever to say. Maybe you need to get out of your self-imposed ghetto.

  4. This OUT article isn’t a one time thing. It’s in EVERY issue. OUT wants to hear what heterosexuals have to say about gay people but doesn’t want to hear what ACTUAL gay people have to say, their experiences or career. It’s all about heterosexuals. That’s what this Sword article was trying to get at. Unfortunately, the writer of this piece will have to realize there are tons and tons of gay people who are 100% fine with a supposed gay magazine being totally dedicated to heterosexuals. Like usual the commenters have focued on this one OUT article to discount what the writer has to say instead of looking at what OUT does in EVERY issue. They will say you are a radical or a hater for wanting a gay magazine to be dedicated to ACTUAL gay people.

  5. Fluff? An interview with an NFL legend who is actually using his voice to challenge homophobia in sports and within the black community, and you consider that fluff? Irvin could have chosen a venue like ESPN, or Sports Illustrated; the fact that he chose a gay magazine is a radical decision, and like Out or hate it that’s worth applauding. As for content, the Love Issue in February was amazing and moving – I can’t believe anyone here dismissing the mag as fluff can possibly have read it.

  6. Sooner or later it will be like those other gay magazines you know unzipped, men, freshmen here today no comment on if we are ceasing production tomorrow.

  7. I have been with Out since its first issue, and – believe it or not – it used to be a really good magazine, mixing fashion and hot male layouts, celebrity interviews, and serious well written articles (lifestyle, crime, sexuality, etc.). The last few years however have seen a real steep decline in the quality of the mag where it is one small step away from truly being nothing more than a fluff magazine (see Instinct Magazine for what real FLUFF is all about).

  8. I subscribe to Out because it IS fluff. There is so much crap that incessantly bombards me every day (web and cable), that I need somethign to turn the brain off and just get lost in. I agree that it has gone down hill a lot in recent years, and many times, if you tear the cover of that and “Details” the content is interchangable.

    But it’s there. It’s like reading “Extra” without the loud voice-over.

  9. And BTW, I think having sexy shirtless straight sports dudes as allies is great. Ben Cohen is doing amazing work, has a huge heart, and is a fucking stud.
    By speaking out, these guys are a great example to young straight athletes, showing that it’s not ok to make fun of/ beat the shit out of the homos.

    “it has in fact been and will continue to be actual Gay People who do the actual work to advance gay rights in this country.”

    Zach, it takes a whole bunch of people and not just gay ones to advance gay rights.

    1. There isn’t one piece of criticism of the athletes in this article, so please be careful not to twist my words around in your effort to defend them and their hotness. I support whatever they want to do.

      My criticism is of a so-called gay magazine that devotes the majority of every one of its issues to straight people.

  10. OUT is ruling at the moment. Primary reason being content and writing. There’s quite a bit of top drawer stuff to read in there now, rather than just a bunch of pretty pictures. And for those who call it superficial fluff, you might want to check out the Justin Bond cover story from May. The piece, and the cover itself was a brave, beautiful move.

  11. I’m not as familiar with the other guys.

    But Ben Cohen (from the UK) has a foundation dedicated to anti-bully education in schools and eradicating homophobia and anti-gay bullying in sports.
    He’s very close with Gareth Thomas.
    He’s not just some random pretty straight dude.
    He quit playing and has devoted his time to the foundation full time and has been traveling around the world speaking to LGBT organizations and mainstream and LGBT media.

    Also, Hudson Taylor (US) is doing the same kind of work
    Hudson serves on the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Sport’s Project’s Advisory Board.
    “Hudson created the Athlete Ally Pledge and blog to gather support from athletes and advocates around the country. To further encourage others to join him in building a fully respectful sports culture, Hudson is authoring, The Athlete Ally: Empowering a New Era of Leadership and Inclusion in Sports. The Athlete Ally will guide and inspire coaches, athletes, administrators, fans and parents who are eager to redefine what it means to be an athlete and a leader.”

    Yes they are pretty, but I don’t think that is the only reason they are being featured. Andy they aren’t just being interviewed for LGBT publications.

    I think young men (straight men) look up to sports figures and it’s actually VERY important that they speak out against bullying and homophobia.

    I don’t have a problem with LGBT media giving them a platform if they are doing good things for gay folks.

    The gay media makes a huge deal any time some random athlete (baseball, football, basketball) says something stupid and homophobic (and I think they should) but it’s wrong to focus on athletes who are consciously going out of their way to fight homophobia in sports?

    I’m not getting what’s wrong with it.

    Pretty/Sexy is what gets folks to the page.

    Out and The Advocate may not always do what I want them to do but there is no perfect publication. I’d rather have LGBT publications survive and have the opportunity to get better than just disappear.

  12. I saw a tweet yesterday from a drag artist in Dallas unhappy with Michael Irvin’s inclusion here in OUT as she’s been on the receiving end of his bile and ridicule and he is no “friend” of the community. For what it’s worth.

  13. I don’t have a problem with gay friendly straight people (there are more than enough self loathing closet cases who hate GLBTs, therefore the more straight people being on the side of the gay community the better). However I find “Look, I’m gay friendly! Now buy my latest CD/DVD/Game or watch my latest movie or TV show!” a bit off putting.

    However this particular article tackles gay friendly celebs in sports which is considered (or stereotyped?) homophobic and generally pandering to the Christian family value crowd and the macho alpha male worshipping audience.

  14. I totally agree with AnsonSF. I flip through an issue of Out in minutes because it is all stupid crap for queers who live in a perfect world.

  15. OUT Magazine is just a bit of fluff magazine with absolutely no redeeming value. Shallow and superficial, there is virtually no substance to it. I got a subscription as a replacement to my subscription to MEN Magazine, which was also shallow and superficial but at least had some SUBSTANCE. That’s all.

  16. “This month’s issue fawns over five sports stars who all shirtlessly support gay rights, which is both a great way to SELL MAGAZINES” – Young Miss Smarty Pants …

    … THIS is your basic error in logic. I think there are very few magazines and newspapers in business today that could sustain themselves based on their subscription base. “Subscription base” for magazines is as much bullshit propaganda as “Page Views” are for web properties. In short, in general, magazines make their money from advertisers NOT FROM SELLING MAGAZINES. I would also argue that there is not likely to be any non-porn “Gay Media Property” in America today that could sustain itself based on sales transactions from actual Gay People – which is why the content in Gay Media is primary designed around NOT TO OFFENDING ADVERTISERS.

    Of course, once upon a time, Gay Publishing did sustain itself based on subscriptions because they more or less could not get so-called “mainstream advertisers” to buy advertising space next to dick. THEN, and this was a seismic event in the history of gay civil rights in America, THEN, some Fucking Queens embarked on this little business strategy that held that gay publishing could make a fucking fortune if they just got rid of the dicks and the butthole shots and made their publications “advertiser friendly”. THE FANTASY was that there would be as many corporations eager to proclaim they had “non-discrimination policies” towards gay people in Gay Magazines as there are corporations proclaiming their non-discrimination policies toward Blacks in Black Magazine. HOWEVER, THE REALITY IS …

    Because of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, every fucking company in America with over 100 or so employees has a legal imperative to buy advertising in Black Media proclaiming their non-discrimination policies towards Blacks. So far, to date, there are all of about TEN MAJOR CORPORATIONS in all of America that are sustain essentially all of Gay Media with Advertising. One of the reasons OLD PLANETOUT hit the skids was because new upstart (at the time) Logo TV made deals with the TEN OR SO MAJOR ADVERTISERs that were advertising with Planetout. The bottom line is that, while THE GREAT WHITE BREAD GAY BUSINESS STRATEGY seemed like a grand scheme, with no Gay Civil Rights Act of 1964, there essentially will never be enough mainstream advertisers to support all of the Queens who think they can make a fortune in Gay Media. (what is really fucking hilarious to me is that THE QUEENS have to all know this to be the case AND YET, instead of embarking on a campaign to get a Gay Civil Rights Act of 1964, they instead fixated on fucking Gay Marriage and DADT – and you know WHY? – because Corporate America doesn’t want a Gay Civil Right Act of 1964)

    WITH RESPECT TO OUT MAGAZINE, you have to give them a break (and a prayer). The Current Team behind Out and the other old Planetout Properties are trying to sustain iconic Gay Properties with the mess they were left by the previous regime. The Current Team behind Out Magazine is trying to survive in the mess that was left when people finally realized that All of Gay Media only had about 10 or so major advertisers and that THE GREAT WHITE BREAD GAY BUSINESS MODEL WAS FULL OF SHIT.

  17. you are delusional if you think that gays On their own will get gays their rights. It’s all about legislation and without the straight pop culture figures to sway popular support I don’t think we would be where we are. Most of the country supports gay marriage and that is in large part from straight media heads normalizing it. It’s. It’s cute to think we as gays don’t need the straight community but that’s not true.
    Ps. HomoPhobia in sports rampant, thank goodness for athletes that sAy they will not put up with it.

  18. I subscribed to Out until early this year when I stopped after they dropped Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s column in favour of more pages devoted to “What’s new in alcohol”. I subscribe instead now to British magazine Attitude which has actual columns by actual gay people about their actual lives. Not 25 pages of “What’s new in fashion” or “Where to get the best cigars”.
    I agree with your article whole-heartedly. What’s the point of Uncle Tom-ming the gay issue in a magazine for gay people?

  19. Apparently they’ve never heard of Gareth Thomas. They were very welcoming and understanding of his sexuality and he continues to play rugby.

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