Sixteen years ago this month (in March 2002), I made the knee jerk and admittedly questionable decision to launch a free, lesbian-centric, LGBT-themed magazine. At that time, we were all still reeling from 9/11, in a world no longer resembling the one I’d known for 40 years. Suddenly aware that I lived “squarely” in the bullseye of a target, that at any moment my time might be up, I searched for a purpose, something that might positively impact my world, or at least one of my worlds: my gay world.
I launched GO for several deeply personal reasons. There was no business plan, per se. To date, my work history had consisted of positions in local nonprofits, which I held sacred for their missions and service to the community. After striking out on my own in the ‘90s, I built a production company specializing in producing events for other nonprofits. Not exactly a background to prepare anyone for creating a business that might survive, much less thrive. Truth be told, I also launched GO, for among other reasons, in order to come to terms with my own internalized homophobia. I reasoned that if such a publication had existed when I came out, maybe I’d have been equipped to find community beyond the vital yet limited social outlets I’d had at my disposal.
My plan for GO was simply to bring it into existence. I reasoned that I could produce an attractive, relevant, accessible and celebratory publication for gay women, one that might someday rival the sea of decidedly male-centric LGBT publications of the time. Grand as they were, such pubs always reminded me that in the gay world, just as in the world at large, as a woman, I was destined to remain a second-class citizen. I wanted to ascend that second-class citizenship. I wanted to help other women do the same. Joined by dozens of eager “kids,” I was off and running.
So I launched GO, a niche publication in a pre-smartphone world: the world before social media, “The L Word,” and nationwide marriage equality. We all worked ourselves into the ground, trying to find gay women to feature in an environment that made it dangerous to be featured. We scoured NYC, and eventually the country, for event producers who felt safe enough to list their events in GO. We meticulously researched businesses and travel destinations to find those that were truly lesbian-friendly.
Since then, GO has indeed thrived. While certainly not a financial juggernaut, GO has changed the lives of countless LBTQ women, launched careers and inspired similar projects. And closest to my heart, GO has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of readers. My goal to provide a product that reflected positively on our community has been achieved. My goal to see young women recognize themselves in our pages, be inspired by the women featured, and feeling prouder to call themselves lesbian or bisexual or queer as a result, is my dream come true.
Our work touched the heart of one young woman, in particular: our amazing, earnest and brilliant new Executive Editor Zara Barrie. To know that GO touched Zara’s life, as well as the lives of other amazing GO staffers like Corinne Werder and Dayna Troisi, currently taking GO to a new level of success (both online and in print), is the realization of a 16-year-old dream. Thank you for reading GO Magazine.
Thank you for 16 years of love and support.
This is a two-part Editor’s letter, read Zara’s letter here.