All good things must come to an end. And so it is with OutWords magazine. This is our final print issue. After 27 years as Manitoba’s only GLBT publication, we at OutWords will shift our focus to digital media.
It’s with deep sadness that we’re drawing the curtain on this phase in the history of our publication. We’ve been trying to stave off this day for some time, but the winds of change have caught up with us.
As many of our readers know, everyone at OutWords is a volunteer, and our content is produced by freelancers. We don’t even have an office anymore; we do everything remotely. So our costs are actually very low. But we’ve reached the point where our revenues won’t cover the costs of printing a magazine with any regularity.
It wasn’t all that many years ago that we could count on advertising revenues to let us print 10 or 11 issues a year. Not anymore. While we still have wonderful advertisers who see value in being part of a GLBT magazine, in today’s world, advertisers have many more options for their marketing dollars.
On a personal level, I can’t shake a feeling of having betrayed the GLBT community and the founders of this magazine, which bore the name Swerve with unabashed pride. That first group deserves a lot of respect for overcoming daunting challenges to print their first issue in the fall of 1994.
Starting from scratch, they recruited editors and writers. Somehow, they convinced businesses that it was a good thing to advertise in a GLBT publication at a time when homophobia was rampant. They found a printing company that was willing to do business with an overtly queer publication. And they found outlets that weren’t afraid to display Swerve in public view.
Only two issues were published that year, but Swerve caught on as the voice of the GLBT community in Manitoba, and it quickly grew. As times changed, the publication transformed from a tabloid into a newsprint magazine and then into a glossy mag. Not everyone liked these changes, but it helped expand readership.
There was one change we fought as hard as we could. That was when we dropped the name Swerve and renamed it OutWords following a trademark dispute with another publication. There’s nothing wrong with the name OutWords, but we loved the original name, and many readers thought we had shut down. Luckily, we rebounded and were able to keep going strong for many years.
Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to overcome the drop in advertising revenues that has hit the entire publishing industry. We have to transform OutWords again, but this time we don’t know what the future holds for us.
That’s where you, the reader, come in. First, we want to thank you for supporting us during our many transformations. OutWords belongs to the community, not any one group. Our editors and writers have looked to readers for guidance through every step of our history.
We now look to you again for your ideas. Please tell us what you want from OutWords. What kinds of stories do you want to read? How can we do a better job? And if you want, please join the team.
Whatever happens, we promise we will continue to be loyal to our mandate, which is to inform, entertain, inspire, celebrate and offer hope to the GLBT community, in all of its diversity.
So, rather than say goodbye from OutWords, we’ll simply say, “stay tuned.”
–Rachel Morgan is chair of the board of OutWords. Contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org