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ESPN Magazine's Body Issue - For Those of Us Who Love A Man OUT of Uniform

Espn body issue 2015_kevinlove


2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of ESPN Magazine's first Body Issue, which celebrates the musculature of athletes across the spectrum of professional sports (male as well as female).  Despite the athletes being photographed in the buff, these photos have more in common with Michelangelo's sculptures than Robert Mapplethorpe's images.  And although I would have preferred seeing more body hair, it's refreshing that a major sports magazine doesn't have any hang-ups about putting the bodies of athletes front and center for readers to admire.  (And kudos to the athletes who participate.)  Finally, both 2017's and 2018's edition included openly gay male athletes: skier Gus Kenworthy and figure skater Adam Rippon


Although there were hundreds of photos to choose from (a challenge I happily accepted) I managed to narrow them down to my two dozen favorite:


Espn body issue - giancarlo stanton
Baseball star Giancarlo Stanton (2013)
Espn body issue - julian edelman
NFL wide receiver Julian Edelman (2017)


Espn body issue - rugby star Malakai_Fekitoa20170629_ODV
Rugby star Malakai Fekitoa (2017)
Espn body issue - javier baez
Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs (2017)
Espn body issue 2018 _adamrippon_bodyissue1406
Figure skater Adam Rippon (2018)
Espn-body-issue - kolin kapernick
NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick (2013)
Espn body issue - Apolo-Ohno-Speed-Skating-2011
Speed skater Apolo Ohno (2011)
Espn body issue_tyler_seguin
Hockey player Tyler Seguin (2015)
Espn body issue - football player
Football player Julian Edelman (2017)


Espn body issue - matt harvey
Pitcher Matt Harvey (2013)


Espn body issue_TomasBerdych
Tennis player Tomas Berydch (2014)


Espn body issue - antonio brown 2016
NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown (2016)
Espn body issue-jake arrieta_013
Pitcher Jake Arrieta (2016)
Espn body issue - conor mcgregor
Mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor (2016)
Espn body issue - YasielPuigESPNTheBodyIssue6
Baseball star Yasiel Puig (2018)


Espn-body-issue - ezekiel elliott
NFL rusher Ezekiel Elliott (2017)


Espn body issue - gus kenworthy 2017
Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy (2017)
Espn body issue joffrey lupul
Hockey player Joffrey Lupul (2013)


Espn body issue - bryce harper
Baseball player Bryce Harper (2015)


Espn body issue - rob gronkowski
Football player Rob Gronkowski (2012)


Espn mag body issue - tennis player
Tennis player Stan Wawrinka (2015)


Espn body issue - omar gonzalez
Soccer player Omar Gonzalez (2014)
Espn body issue - ashton easton decathlete
Decathlete Ashton Eaton (2012)


Espn body issue - isaiah thomas
NBA star Isaiah Thomas (2017)

Introducing 'Chill', the Men's Magazine of "Label-Free Living"

Chill magazine


Last month (May 2018) 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. 



Black Brazilians

  James brownIII

  Michael stiggers in chill magazine

  Terrell Clark





FourTwoNine Magazine - Does an Upscale Magazine for Gay Men Have a Chance?

FourTwoNineMagazineThe magazine industry has struggled in the 21st century as digital media pulls ad dollars away and the Great Recession of 2008-09's effect on ad revenue lingers.  Magazines targeting a LGBT audience may be even more challenged since potential readership is 1/10 the size of the general population, and many of our interests are addressed in general market publications such as Vanity Fair, Opera News, Men's Health, Dwell, GQ and websites such as Towle Road, Just Jared, Outsports, etc.  Still, new magazines continue to be introduced.  One of them is a high-end gay lifestyle magazine with the title FourTwoNine (429 spells "GAY" on a telephone key pad.)  I was unfamiliar with it until I saw it among a stack of magazines in the pantry at my office.  It's a handsome publication, with large-sized pages (9" x 11") that makes it stand out from other magazines that, as a cost-cutting measure, have reduced the size of their pages.  As I paged through the last few issues it brought to mind a cross between Out and Metrosource, but at a premium cover price of $12.99.


Published out of San Francisco, FourTwoNine launched in September 2013 (after a rather tepid Kickstarter campaign raised $18,700).  Sarah Jessica Parker and Andy Cohen were featured on the cover of the premiere issue.  Kevin Sessums of Vanity Fair fame, and writer of the critically acclaimed memoir Mississippi Sissy, was editor-in-chief until last summer.  So far, just six issues have been published in 2½ years.  According to the publication's media kit a spring Film and Fashion issue was scheduled to be published in March 2016 but I've seen no evidence of it.  Its print circulation is just under 100,000.




According to a subscriber survey, median personal income of a subscriber is $125,000 (four times that of a typical US wage earner).  With such monied readers to boast about, it's no surprise the magazine carries ads from an array of high-end companies such as Lexus, Piaget, Grey Goose, Saks and the Tribeca and SoHo Grand hotels - but ads for HIV meds are conspicuously absent (a huge revenue generator for many LGBT publications). 


The publication touts its photography, features poetry and carries interviews with accomplished players in the worlds of fashion, literature and the arts - gay as well as straight (e.g., in the Summer 2015 issue there was a profile of San Francisco Giants baseball player Hunter Pence).  As part of its somewhat avant-garde vibe, the pages aren't numbered.  Issue Four received  attention for its feature on a James Franco interview with himself that broached the subject of his sexuality: "I like to think that I'm gay in my art and straight in my life.  Although, I'm also gay in my life up to the point of intercourse, and then you could say I'm straight."  Below are some photos that were published in issue Five:


Daveed Diggs plays the roles of Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in the Broadway smash "Hamilton".


The Riker twins, Derek and Drew, are celebrity photographers.


Part of a "Boys of Summer" fashion feature.


At $12.99 FourTwoNine is a bit too pricey for my taste, and I find that Out (the largest circulation gay magazine) serves my interests in LGBT culture just fine.  However, I'd be happy to pick it up if I again see it in the office, or if I find it in the waiting rooms of my doctor, dermatologist or eye doctor.





MetroSource Magazine Celebrates Its 25th Year

Metrosource.logoMetrosource is a general interest magazine edited for the urbane gay male.  Published every other month, it competes for advertising dollars with Out, The Advocate and, to a lesser degree, Next (in New York).  Like Next, MetroSource is free, available largely at bars and restaurants in neighborhoods that cater to gay residents and tourists.  The publication covers entertainment, shopping, home design, travel and health/fitness.  The back of the magazine (comprising about one-quarter of an issue's total pages) has paid listings for local service providers such as accountants, doctors, lawyers, dentists, therapists, plastic surgeons, etc. - but no escorts (which is Next's bread and butter).  In its 25th year, MetroSource has been publishing longer than Next or Out and has outlived Genre, Instinct and HX (a competitor of Next).  The guiding force behind this enterprise for all these years has been owner and publisher, Rob Davis.


June/July 2015


Spring 2002


Aug/Sept 2008


MetroSource is a handsome publication edited with an affluent reader in mind (but because of its free distribution, who knows who actually picks it up and reads it).  Unlike Out and The Advocate, Metrosource devotes little coverage to "hard" news (no pun intended - or perhaps it was).  Of course, being a magazine targeted to gay men, every issue can be counted on to have some eye candy in its pages.


June/July 2008


Spring 2005




The magazine has three featured columnists, one of which, David Dean Bortrell, I think bears a striking resemblance to me - what do you think?



In addition to sexy men, the magazine also celebrates our female icons, including the likes of Margaret Cho, Kathy Griffin, Kylie Minogue and Sarah Jessica Parker and her gal pals.









Dec/Jan 2004 issue (Sarah Jessica Parker looks peculiar, almost like it's an impersonator)


In closing, here's a gallery of more tantalizing covers and editorial pages ...


Summer 2003


Summer 2002


Feb/March 2002




Summer 2002


April/May 2005


April/May 2005


Summer 2004


Summer 2004


Feb/March 2002


Fall 2001


Spring 1998


Fall 1997



Michael Sam - First the NFL, Then the Cover of GQ

Michael.sam.gqNot only does defensive end Michael Sam have the distinction of being the first openly gay player drafted by the National Football League, but later that same year (2014) he became the first openly gay person to appear on the cover of GQ.  In GQ's history there have been a handful of closeted cover subjects (e.g., Rock Hudson, Greg Louganis, Kevin Spacey) and NFL players have been well represented (including Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, and Tiki Barber), but never before had someone who was openly gay and an NFL member graced its cover until the 24-year-old University of Missouri graduate was chosen for the honor.  And although he, ultimately, was released by two teams and never clocked any playing time, Sam's appearance is still a milestone to salute.  (An honor not bestowed upon openly gay NBA player, Jason Collins, who came out a year before Sam and briefly played for the Brooklyn Nets in 2014 before retiring at the end of the season.)


Sam will garner more attention in March when he appears as a contestant on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, becoming the show's third LGBT participant (Lance Bass, Carson Kressley and Chaz Bono were the others).


The Role Sports Illustrated Played in the Stirrings of My First Same-Sex Attractions






My father was a big sports fan and subscribed to Sports Illustrated.  Although I wasn't into sports at the time, I'd page through an issue if there was an attractive male athlete on the cover.  Back then (the 1960s and early 70s) I had no inkling what being gay was all about, but I do remember feeling a tingle of excitement whenever I came across a photo in an issue showing a sweaty, bare chested athlete whooping it up with fellow athletes.  I didn't question this frisson of excitement, I just went with it.  (I never got the same excitement from SI's Swimsuit issue.) 


To commemorate the early stirrings created by these rather chaste covers, I've chosen some choice examples that tickled my nascent gay fancy.


This is Bruce Jenner, years before he got hooked on plastic surgery.  He was 26 when this issue hit newsstands during his gold medal winning performance in Decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics.





Here is Joe Namath after he led the New York Jets to an improbable Super Bowl championship in 1969.  He was 25 at the time.





This December 1961 cover shows 27-year-old defenseman Dan Currie of the Green Bay Packers.  Six years later a similar rain-themed cover was published with a player named Dan, who looked very much like Currie (Dan Reeves of the Cowboys).






The sexy focus of Ron Swoboda of the New York Mets, readying himself for the pitch ...





Mickey Mantle of the Yankees, the all-American boy.  This cover was from the summer of 1962 when he was 31.





Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins at the age of 22.





Who doesn't love a man in uniform?  This one is halfback Joe Bellino from the U.S. Naval Academy, winner of the 1960 Heisman Trophy.





Swimmer Chet Jastremski, Indiana University, shown here during the winter of 1962.  He took a break from medical school to compete in the 1964 Olympics.  





NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain at the age of 36.  This was back when basketball players not only shot baskets but showed off their baskets in the short shorts they wore.  These are now a distant memory, replaced by unflattering, long and baggy shorts. 





Steve Garvey, another all-American athlete who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He was later knocked off his pedestal when stories of philandering were revealed (which was a somewhat novel revelation back then).





This cover of pitching great Juan Marichal appealed to my aesthetic sensibility.  The headline, "Latin Conquest", also got my attention.





Finally, even as a grown man a cover occasionally opens my eyes and brings back memories of the early years ...



TIME Magazine Cover Story Asks "How Gay is Gay?" (April 16, 1979)

Time_how_gay_is_gayApril 1979 was a milestone month for me.  I had just moved to New York to start my first job out of college (ad agency Scali, McCabe, Sloves) and I was living on my own for the first time.  I was starting my second week at the new job when TIME Magazine published a cover story titled "How Gay is Gay?" (with a cover date of April 23, it hit newsstands today).  The story was a positive portrayal of the state of gay America.  This was in contrast to a cover story published 10 years earlier titled "The Homosexual" which painted a more dreary picture.  (My first ZeitGAYst post reported on that cover story.)             


White_painters_pantsThe story reported on the influence gay men had in gentrifying formerly undesirable urban neighborhoods and in starting fashion trends.  Introducing disco to mainstream America was also mentioned.  One gay New Yorker who was interviewed commented that he first saw Adidas sneakers and white painters pants being worn as casual wear out on Fire Island a few years before they caught on with the rest of the country. 


Its_ok_to_be_gay One observation made in the article seemed like it was written today rather than 34 years ago: "A few younger gays, especially in the cities, have never hidden their identities".  And even in 1979 thirty-nine cities and towns had already enacted ordinances prohibiting anti-gay discrimination in jobs and housing (NYC wouldn't pass such a law until 1986).  Furthermore, 120 companies, including AT&T and IBM, had anti-discrimination policies as it pertained to hiring or promotions.    


Later that year I came out to a friend I worked with, Marina, and she told me she wasn't surprised and mentioned this cover story.  It seemed that I kept that particular issue of TIME on my desk for a while and she thought I was making a subtle statement.  

The Village People Appear on the Cover of "Rolling Stone" (April 12, 1979)




A few months after rocker Rod Stewart succumbed to the Disco Fever sweeping the nation in 1979 with his disco smash Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? (four weeks at #1), the world of rock capitulated further when Rolling Stone put the Village People on the cover of its April 19 issue (it hit newsstands today). 


The magazine had earlier cover stories on the Bee Gees in 1977 (posing in their famous white disco suits) and Donna Summer in 1978, but the Village People cover was an indication of how gay culture was being slowly absorbed into mainstream America.  Soon their song YMCA would be played at wedding receptions and performed by ground crews at baseball games.  And a commercial for Old El Paso salsa from the early 1990s was set to the song Macho Man.



Old el paso salsa commercial


Unlike most novelty groups, the Village People managed to chart three songs in the top 20 of Billboard's Hot 100: YMCA went to #2; In the Navy peaked at #3; and Macho Man topped out at #14.   


However, the Rolling Stone cover may have been the straw that broke the straight "camel's back" as a backlash against disco music soon began - culminating in the infamous "Disco Demolition Night" riot at Chicago's Comiskey Park in July of 1979.  But 40+ years later the mention of the Village People is still likely to put a smile on most faces.   





Other ZeitGAYst posts about the Village People:

Coming Out with the Help of the Village People

The Village People Appear on American Bandstand

Creator of the Village People Dies of AIDS

Glenn Hughes, Village People's "Leatherman" Dies

Billionaire Malcolm Forbes Outed by Outweek Magazine (March 11, 1990)

Malcolm_forbesBesides his financial acumen, high-profile billionaire Malcolm Forbes was also well known for his hobbies of motorcycling and hot air ballooning, as well as his much publicized friendship with Elizabeth Taylor.  He died on February 24, 1990 at the age of 70, and two weeks later the fledgling weekly gay magazine Outweek ran a cover story outing him (cover date of March 18).  It was written by gay journalist, and rabble-rouser, Michelangelo Signorile.  (Although the cause of Forbes' death is listed as "heart attack", it is rumored that he actually committed suicide upon learning that he was HIV-positive.)




OutingThe story about Forbes was actually just part of the story as the thrust of the article was about the double standard used by the media when it came to reporting on the private lives of closeted gays and heterosexuals.  The act of "outing" was controversial not only with the general public but within the gay community as well.  Because of its potential negative ramifications a debate raged about how ethical it was to reveal a person's sexual orientaiton before they were prepared to do so themselves.  Twenty years later it seems to be reserved mostly for closeted politicians who support anti-gay legislation. 


Outweek_final_issueOutweek_first_issueAs for Outweek it lasted for just two years.  Both its first (near right) and last issue (far right) were published during Gay Pride Week.

Suitable for Framing: TIME Magazine's Classic Cher Cover

Cher_TimeMag_1101750317_400 Now a single woman, and starring in her own variety show, 29-year-old Cher was in the midst of Version 3 of her career.  (V1 was as a singing duo with Sonny in the mid-1960's; V2 began in 1971 with their CBS variety show).  Her "emancipation" warranted a TIME Magazine cover story* and this glamorous cover from the mid-March 1975 became an instant classic.  (And since then Cher's career has continued its iterations, including Hollywood Cher; Disco Diva Cher; Infomercial Cher; and Retirement Tour Cher.) 

*Cover date of 3/17/75 but on newsstands March 11. 



EltonJohn_TimeMag_1101750707_400 LizaMinnelli_1101720228_400 LindaRonstadt_TimeMag_1101770228_400 Four months after Cher's TIME cover Elton John would get one of his own as well.  Other gay icons bestowed with covers have included Liza Minnelli (1972)*, Linda Ronstadt (1977), Madonna (1985) and Bette Midler (1987).  But none compare to Cher's in terms of "Wow!" factor (But Rondstadt's sultry cover comes close).

*Surprisingly, while Liza merited a cover story her even more iconic mother never had one.