Last month I came across a magazine at my gym that I wasn't familiar with, Chill. As I thumbed through it, a surfeit of photos showing sexy African American men got my attention. And while the photo essays gave off a subtle gay vibe, I was uncertain about the publication's intended readership. Upon further investigation I learned that Chill is a new quarterly published by Here Media, which is also the publisher of Out, The Advocate and Out Traveler. The publisher's letter described the magazine's audience as men who are "empowered by label-free living". (An updated version of the DL?) And when I spoke to Here Media's business development manager and referred to Chill as the gay magazine for black men, he demurred and reiterated the "fluidity" of their orientation. So I suppose this means we shouldn't expect to find the likes of Billy Porter, Titus Burgess or RuPaul on the cover.
What makes the publication somewhat different from Out or The Advocate is that every article doesn't have a gay angle. However, in the premiere issue there was a touching essay about a writer's experience as a gay teen feeling like an outsider in black barbershop culture. There was also a review of a biography about gay author Alain Locke, an article about the show runner for Giant (which has addressed homophobia in the black community), a photo essay shot by a gay photographer, and an interview with a gay make-up artist from the VH-1 reality series Love & Hip-Hop Miami, who was subjected to gay conversion therapy as a teenager. And on Chill's website its stories included one about one of the stars of the new FX show Pose, an event in California for gay/bi men of color called Blatino Oasis, and a thought-provoking essay about the sexual objectification of black men by gay white men. Interestingly, there was no listing of Chill on Here Media's website.
Finally, since the initial issue contained very little advertising (nine pages out of a total of 64) I'd like to give a shout-out to the few who did appear in the premiere issue: Absolut, Lexus, the pharmaceutical companies Gilead and Napo, and LA's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.