The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, a pioneering publication for LGBT rights, is celebrating its 25th year of publication.
In addition to highlighting LGBT rights, the magazine has also spotlighted many of the challenges affecting the gay and lesbian community. This includes issues such as housing and employment discrimination, denial of public accommodations, the hardships of receiving proper healthcare and the lack of adequate HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals for patients.
During the planning of the first issue, Bill Clinton had recently been sworn in as president and had to address the “gays in the military” crisis. A March on Washington occurred in Washington D.C. in April 1993, to call for several demands of equal rights.
The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide’s first year of publication coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, often regarded as the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement, and the magazine has since been recording and reflecting upon an epic period of change and development in LGBT rights and visibility.
While keenly aware of today’s most pressing topics, the publication’s larger mission is to explore all areas of LGBT politics, culture, and history. The G&LR has reexamined the work of countless writers and other artists—from Walt Whitman to Henry James and Leonard Bernstein to Jasper Johns—to uncover and analyse same-sex elements that have been ignored or suppressed.
The magazine has also been a repository of insight and analysis of LGBT culture as it has evolved. Works such as Angels in America, Brokeback Mountain, and Call Me by Your Name (article in the March-April 2018 issue by Andrew Holleran) have received extensive treatment.
The G&LR has focused a fair amount of attention in the science of homosexuality, starting in the 1990s with Simon LeVay’s controversial genetic theory to James O’Keefe’s recent breakthrough piece on the evolutionary origins of homosexuality in the Jan-February 2018 issue.
Since its inception, The G&LR has reviewed over 2,000 books including novels, biographies, and historical studies.
For 25 years, The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide has been a respected and trusted source that addresses the critical issues affecting the LGBT community. A lot has changed in that – both within the LGBT comkunity, as well as rapid technological advances in society at large.
How has The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide survived during all of these changes? Is technology an opportunity or threat to future growth? And what’s in store for the future. I spoke with the magazine’s editor-in-chief (and founder!) Richard Schneider Jr. and asked him those questions.
Check out our interview below!
Interview with Richard Schneider Jr.
Little Gay Blog – Thanks for your time and congratulations on reaching your 25 year milestone! So many publications (both mainstream and niche-based) have come and gone in that time. How is it that The Gay & lesbian Review has managed to survive (and thrive)?
Richard – I think the main reason is that The Review (which was originally The Harvard G&LR) found a loyal niche of readers early on and stuck with it.
It was only a hunch, but I felt back then that there was a need for a lively and intelligent magazine on the level of The New York Review of Books or perhaps The Atlantic. This niche had been filled by such periodicals as Christopher Street and Gay Community News, but both were fading at this time—the early 1990s. The Lambda Book Report was founded at around this time and had a good run as a hard-copy magazine.
The G&LR has always been built around longer essays and thought pieces, though we also review a lot of books—as well as movies, plays, and art exhibitions.
I think we’ve endured because we’ve remained true to our original mission, which is to produce a thought-provoking and attractive magazine for literate nonspecialists.
Technology has disrupted magazines and publications enormously. Do you see technology as an opportunity or a threat?
It is both. The G&LR would not exist without computers, desktop publishing, electronic communication, and so on, and our website allows us to reach another bloc of readers, while also making it easy for people to subscribe.
That said, clearly the internet has posed a huge challenge to traditional periodicals by offering vast amounts of information instantly and at low or no cost. Many niche magazines have folded, while many more have stopped publishing a paper copy and offer only an on-line or digital version.
The business model for these magazines is often a little shaky, but people are starting to get used to the idea of paying for the content they consume, which is a good thing.
So much has changed within the LGBT community too. What have you observed as some of the biggest changes to our community over the last 25 years?
The G&LR came into existence when things were very much in flux in the LGBT movement.
Indeed it was something of a crisis atmosphere. In 1993, Bill Clinton had just become president and was immediately hit with the “gays in the military” controversy, which resulted in the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise.
Hawaii’s Supreme Court legalised same sex marriage in the same year, but then the state legislature passed a constitutional amendment banning it –which launched the nationwide campaign to ban same-sex marriage in state referendums for the next ten years.
And the AIDS epidemic reached its peak year (again, 1993) for new infections.
Today, 25 years later, LGBT people are serving openly in the military, gay couples can get married throughout the U.S., and antiretroviral drugs have tamed the plague to a remarkable extent.
That said, much remains to be done. We still don’t have a national Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA, and there are people in the Trump administration who are salivating to take away hard-won rights.
So this is not a time for complacency.
And lastly, what does the future hold for The Gay & Lesbian Review?
We’ll be coming out with a book to celebrate our official 25th anniversary at the start of 2019. It will be a compilation of past articles centred on Stonewall, which will be marking its 50th anniversary next year.
Other than that, we plan to continue on the same trajectory for the foreseeable future, i.e., we have no plans to give up the hard copy magazine or change our basic format. Perhaps printed books and magazines will eventually go the way of scrolls and manuscripts, but for now there seems to be enough demand to keep them alive.
About The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide
The G&LR is released six times a year. Each issue features six to eight in-depth essays, over a dozen full-length reviews of books, movies, and plays, some poems, and special features (letters to the editor, artists’ profiles, op-ed pieces, and a trenchant “BTW” column).
Every issue focuses on a central theme and brings together the leading minds on the topic. Some recent examples include “Gender Studied,” a view of gender as a biological phenomenon, a cultural manifestation, and a political cause. “The Movies” — parts I and II — explored the gay and lesbian presence in mainstream movies, both explicit and covert, and “The First Gay Novel,” that proposed eight candidates, from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray to Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man.
Subscribers get full access to the G&LR website, which includes new content and a vast archive of past essays and reviews dating back to 2004.
For more, please visit The Gay & Lesbian Review website.