Aug 012010

This month’s theme – whether or not the gay print media still have a role – seems an odd one to be set by a gay print magazine. It’s a little like Shell asking whether or not we really still need petrol! Still, a little self-contemplation can be a good thing, as long as we avoid navel-gazing.

Gay magazines and papers are no longer needed, so runs the argument, because the so-called mainstream press now reports gay issues regularly. While this is true, as far as it goes, I don’t think I wish to rely on the Daily Mail to bring me news so important to me! Of course, that particular bile-spewing rag is not representative of the whole of Fleet Street, but it does serve as a reminder of an important consideration; for the most part, the “mainstream” media are reporting ABOUT us, not for or to us. This distinction is important.

After all, the mainstream press is precisely that – mainstream. Its audience encompasses a wide range of views, admittedly, but all generally fairly close to one another on the continuum. For example, people who read the dailies may disagree over gay marriage, but it’s likely that few, if any, would propound the burning of faggots at the stake!

All well and good; let’s be thankful we’ve achieved so much, close down the GScene offices, cancel the subscription to Attitude and spend the last of OutRage!’s funds on a retirement shindig for Peter Tatchell. Aren’t our laurels a lovely place to rest?

Suppose, however, that public opinion changes; the centre shifts, mainstream mood moves and our hard –fought –for –and –won rights become abominations. Who, then, will champion our cause? To have to start from scratch could be as damaging as appointing Jan Moir head of the Human Rights Commission! We are, and should be, happy with and proud of all that has been achieved, and the progressive and liberal reality of modern day Britain. But we should not become complacent, and forget that we are where we are because people fought for our rights.

It is said that a population is never truly free, without a free press. Neither, I contend, is a gay population free without a free gay press.