When this issue and cover story topic came up on the calendar, we had a dilemma here at Out Front.
It was a chapter in a longer conversation that seems to grow only more complicated with time – who are we when it comes to the platform we provide the community – when it comes to sex?
During the first few years that Out Front Colorado was in print, content was racy – often including black-and-white photographs of full-frontal nudity. It was a time when the gay movement was less interested in “acceptance” and more caught up in revolution. There was a sense of liberation and empowerment for gay people who’d been told all their lives that everything about them was wrong, and then here was a printed publication very explicitly demonstrating that yes, it is OK for consenting adults to be gay, to be sexual, to have bodies. And that those who don’t like it can worry about their own lives, not ours.
But when the AIDS crisis struck, the tone around sexuality changed. Later, as mainstream media and culture evolved to be a little more LGBT-friendly, the gay community, including Out Front, shifted too. Today it’s less about drawing a clear line against what some saw as a puritanical anti-gay culture, and more about who we are as people seeking equality, family and love.
We acknowledge that our audience isn’t what it once was. Nowadays, kids in high school are reading Out Front from inside the closet, or just out of it. We’re here for the full spectrum of LGBT people rather than just gay men, and many of our readers are raising children of their own and maybe don’t want a big man-bulge hanging out on the coffee table. We know that some of our own straight parents and siblings with LGBT family members keep in touch with our culture through media like Out Front too.
If one of the core tenets of our policy is to be diverse, there’s a balance to be struck. Sex and sexuality are important parts of our lives – we need to cover it – but not in a way that chases others off.
That line was a concern when it came to this issue’s cover story. How do we learn about kink culture with a spirit of neither revelry, nor judgment? How do we, a rather colorful bunch, approach issues with the neutrality and balance that are long-held traditions in both academia and journalism?
One thing we hold fast to – that we are not neutral about – is our view that our readership is mature. LGBT teenagers face down some heavy issues for who they are, battling deep questions about religion, family, personal safety, discrimination and prejudice – in addition to the typical teen concerns about sex, love, body image and rejection that all teenagers face. We trust that none of our readers of any age are going to blush on sight of the word “vagina,” or close the book because they came across an article about sexually-transmitted infections. In a community where there is still some tension over where we should go – whether to keep pushing the envelope on sexual freedom or instead embrace a more traditional model through same-sex marriage and children – we appreciate that Out Front can give polyamory and kink its fair mention without being seen as lining up on that side. We can print relationship advice geared towards monogamous couples without giving the impression that we think that’s what all our readers want.
We’re lucky enough to live in a society and culture that recognizes differences, protects freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and understands idea of “to each her own” – that what’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for everyone. That’s not to say that nobody tries to persuade another or thinks her or his own way is best, but it does make it much easier for us to know each other – and much easier for Out Front to cover it – when we are all, different as we are, are lumped into one awkwardly-jumbled and anything-but-homogeneous bowl of mismatched fruit called the LGBT community.
At Out Front we figure LGBT people are more or less similar to the general population when it comes to sex drive and ability to keep commitments – much of that similarity being that we, like everyone else, are all over the map. Where we differ is when predispositions become choices: our life experiences have taught us to be more forthcoming about who we are and more open to self-reflective change, moments when we decide to either liberate, or moderate, our own lifestyles.
So with that spirit, we ask that you approach our cover story with an open mind and a willingness to learn. No matter what you think of kink before reading the story – or after – you just may find you’ve discovered something new about yourself.