The Advocate has been reporting on news of interest to gay and lesbian readers for more than 40 years. Before The Boys in the Band, Stonewall or disco music The Advocate was reporting on gay politics and culture. As witness to the unfolding gay liberation movement the magazine has become an important part of gay history itself. Its first issue was published on September 2, 1967 as a newspaper for the Los Angeles area.
In the mid-80's the magazine took on a more glossy look and was sized to resemble a traditonal consumer magazine. To attract national advertisers it removed its notorious sex-oriented ads from the back of the magazine and published them in a separate supplement. In the 1990's it did away with the supplement completely. Then in 2007 another milestone occurred when the magazine offered to mail the magazine to subscribers without its brown paper wrapper.
The magazine does a good job of mixing politics, entertainment and sex although some have criticized it for relying to heavily on straight celebrities for its cover stories. Columns have been contributed by a long list of gay luminaries, including Tony Kushner; Michelangelo Signorilie (far right); Andrew Sullivan; Chastity Bono; Urvashi Vaid; Kate Clinton; Janis Ian; Camille Paglia (near right); Bruce Vilanch; and the late Vito Russo.
Although The Advocate has outlived the likes of Blueboy, Christopher St. Magazine, After Dark, and Genre some question how much longer it will survive (at least in its print format). After all, it's gone from being bi-monthly to monthly and is now delivered in a polybag with its sister publication Out (which is noticeably thicker - no pun intended). Since there isn't a considerable difference between the two editiorially (although Out has a slicker look and features sexy fashion spreads), what is keeping its owner, Here Media Inc., from combining the two? And if they do, which title will be kept? With its distinguished pedigree, hopefully it will be The Advocate.
(Earlier in the year I published a post that paid tribute to some of my favorite Advocate covers from the past 20 years.)