The Advocate's Split Personality

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I do subscribe the venerable gay magazine, The Advocate. Let me explain though. I got a free subscription as part of a survey website I belong to, honestly I haven’t shelled out cash for The Advocate since the early 90’s.

I was a subscriber in the early to mid 80’s when I was “coming out” and the mag was basically one long personal ad. In the days before the Internet it was the place to look for hook-ups around the nation. By the 90’s it had divorced itself of the “ads” and spun them off into a separate (now defunct) publication. However, at that point it became a “style” magazine mainly, telling us all the latest in pop-culture, decorating, travel and once in awhile some news.

So, until recently, I’d not picked up a copy in years. Now, I get my bi-monthly magazine by mail again.

In my second issue I was struck by the split personality of the magazine. Trying to be all things to all people it managed to reduce the impact of Harvey Milk and his street radicals to tips on fashion. Then they covered the push for equality by publishing a piece by James Kirchick titled Play Nice Folks, that chastised all us nasty gays for daring to be upset about continuing inequality and the lies of the right wing.

“Other aspects of the response to Prop. 8 have been similarly counterproductive. Looking at photos of the protests, I cringed every time I saw a poster with the equation prop. 8 = hate. A group of activists started a website titled Californians Against Hate, which lists donors to the Yes on 8 campaign. Of course, much of what is said about gay people could be qualified as hate speech. But not every argument against gay marriage is hateful.”

Kirkchick goes on to remind us all of the advances of African-Americans and telling us they had reason to boycott and we don’t.

What is so funny about this article, despite it’s incredible naivete and, yes, barely concealed self-hate is that later in the magazine the Advocate runs a piece entitled Stonewall 3.0.

In this article they talk about the backlash after Prop 8 and the way it has re-energized the fight for equality. The subtitle crows: “As protestors continue to hit the street in favor of marriage equality, they’re struck by a realization that could be the key to their strength: This is the first generation of gay activists who doesn’t have to fight a backlash from the people who came before them.”

That’s nice. Unfortunately, Charles Kaiser who wrote the piece, wasn’t aware that pages before his that backlash would be evident in Kirchick’s article calling them out with such statements as: “It seems that many gays, especially those living in liberal cocoons (that is, most gay writers and the gay rights establishment), take an all-or-nothing approach.”

I suppose there will always be the Goodstein’s out there, ironically the man who took The Advocate to national prominence and fought tooth and nail against gays who dared to take on the Democratic party establishment to which he was beholden.

Of course, after these two brief forays into debate the magazine sunk once more into tips on how to watch the Jonas Brothers with tween nieces and nephews, celebrity profiles, travel tips, and decorating tips.

Could it be that Goodstein lives on in the halls at The Advocate in the person of James Kirchick, urging us all to just sit in the back of the bus and wait while we dream of how to decorate our cute apartment and watch Dancing with the Stars and making campy comments? Seems that way.

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