Dear GO, Being Your Senior Writer Has Been A Beautiful Honor

Owen Gould

Never have I ever worked with such a fiery, passionate, smart, creative, and wildly opinionated group of women

When I was 16 living on a quiet street in the sleepy suburbs, I asked my mom if I could take the train into Manhattan alone.

“Don’t you want to take Mindy with you?” My mom asked, curiously. Mindy and I had absolutely nothing in common, but we were inexplicably attached at the hipbone. We had the kind of friendship that only occurs in high school, and I intrinsically understood that once we entered the real world our paths would likely never cross again. 

“No,” I said, folding my arms. I definitely did not want to take Mindy into the city with me. I didn’t want to take anyone into the city with me. I wanted to confidently stomp around the East Village in my patent-leather 20-eye Dr. Marten boots and pretend that was my life. I wanted a taste of what it felt like to be a real Manhattan woman. I wanted to freely exhale cigarette smoke into the ever-polluted city sky and recklessly buy cheap ornate jewelry on St. Marks Place and sit in coffee shops and people-watch *without* my high school friends, whose giddy, teeny-bopper presence would snap me right back into the reality I was oh-so-desperate to escape — at least for a few hours.

“Okay, just be careful. Don’t go down any street that’s quiet. Manhattan is dangerous when quiet,” my mother warned, though her hazel eyes twinkled. She’d always harbored a deep admiration for independent women and I could tell her pride in me outweighed her fear. 

“Thanks, mom,” I said, my body still and cool. But inside, I was all heat and butterflies. I skittered up to my room, closed the door, blasted “Little Plastic Castles” by Ani Difranco, and began to feverishly cut up my brand new thrift store shirt — my favorite and most therapeutic past time.

The following Saturday, I was staring out the window of the Metro-North, watching oak trees fly by so quickly they metamorphosed into an abstract painting before my eyes. Forest green paint softly blurred against a sky-blue canvas. I was mesmerized. When the train came hurtling through the dark tunnel of Grand Central Station, my heart felt like it was going to explode. 

It’s not like I hadn’t taken that very train ride a million times before. It’s not like it was my first time in New York — hell, I was born in New York. But this was my first time being in the city alone, and because I had no one else’s energy distracting me from her gorgeous and gory details, my senses swelled to new heights. New York felt like an exaggerated version of herself that day. The streets were breathing; I could feel their pulse. The smell of hot dogs and pizza sauce was so strong and so intoxicating that I wanted to bottle it up and wear it like perfume. I wanted to splash it across my body before school to remind me of what my life would be like the day I was unshackled from the oppressive tethers of small-town life. 

I couldn’t tell you how I found my way to the village. I guess teen lesbians have an internal compass inside of them, leading them right into the liberal, queer heart of any city. I couldn’t tell you why I stumbled into the particular coffee shop where I first laid my virgin eyes on GO Magazine. I’ll never forget the first thought that flew through my mind as I picked her up in all her glossy glory and ran my fingertips across her pretty shiny cover: I’ll work for this magazine one day. 

I’ve never told anyone this story before because I know it sounds like gushy editorial bullshit. But I swear to the Indigo Girls, that’s exactly what happened. I’d never seen GO or heard of GO and hadn’t even processed that it was a lesbian magazine yet. The thought popped into my brain, and as is the tendency of most strange, premonition-style thoughts, it was gone as quickly as it came. I turned my attention toward the magazine herself. I could feel my eyes growing as big as saucers as I leafed through the magazine. It was page after page of razor-sharp images of impossibly cool lesbians doing impossibly cool things, throwing the most impossibly cool parties in the most impossibly cool city in the world. This is the life that I want, I thought, feeling shaky and alive from the caffeine and the cigarettes and the cool lesbians in the cool lesbian magazine. This is the life I’ll have. 

Fifteen years later, I found myself in a meeting with GO Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Amy Lesser. It was one of those steaming hot New York City days where the summer fatigue hangs heavy in the air. Only, I didn’t feel tired at all; I felt ready. I was going to work for the one and only GO Magazine!

Right after I accepted the position as Executive Editor of GO Magazine, I met up with the Stonewall Inn co-owner Stacy Lentz at Duplex in the West Village. We sat outside and excitedly discussed my new role at GO Magazine as we slugged back cocktails and listened to the soothing sounds of weeknight traffic swishing by. It almost sounds like waves crashing if you close your eyes.

I walked home feeling so alive that night. I felt like my sixteen-year-old self, saucer-eyed, serious, and besotted with lesbian New York. To me, GO Magazine was lesbian New York. Before I ever set foot in Stonewall or clinked glasses with the bartenders at Cubby or met up with my friends for a mid-week cocktail at Hens or watched, starry-eyed, as go-go dancers created art with their bodies at the amazing lesbian parties that glimmer and glitter across all five boroughs, I read GO Magazine. And now, I was going to be a part of the GO magic — just as I’d predicted all those years ago. I felt like I was dreaming.

For the past four years, GO has been the focus of my life. While I might have shifted my role from Executive Editor to the (far more fitting) role as Senior Writer, my passion for GO has never once wavered. Writing for GO feels like home. The GO team is my family, and so are the incredible, smart, sophisticated, multi-faceted readers I’ve had the honor of writing for! I know this sounds unprofessional, but fuck it; it’s me, your lesbian big sister. And like I’ve told you all before, big sisters never lie, and I’m no exception. I love you.

And I’m going to be real with you. Today is my last day as the Senior Writer of GO Magazine. Choosing to step down from this role is honestly one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, personally and professionally. I love working with the GO Team. Never have I ever worked with such a fiery, passionate, smart, creative, and wildly opinionated group of women. I’ve loved every second of creating with them, even when we’ve disagreed or grown delirious from banging out a print issue until 4 a.m. In fact, the most joyful moments I’ve had at GO have been in the heated editorial debates and the late nights perfecting the magazine. I’m happiest when surrounded by passion, and GO is all passion. 

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this wild, crazy, haphazard life, it’s that you have to listen to your gut. And my gut tells me it’s time to focus on my book writing and solo creative endeavors. My gut tells me it’s time to leave room for the next generation of voices at GO. My gut tells me that GO has been in my heart for 15 years and that love isn’t going anywhere. It runs deeper than a job title. It will live inside of me forever.

I want to thank the GO readers all so much for reading my essays, for all the private messages, the feedback, and the endless support and love you’ve given me. You’re all my muses, and I feel your energy next to me every single time I write. Sometimes I don’t even feel like it’s me writing; I feel like I’m just the vessel that houses all of your creativity and heart and fire.

Lastly, I want to thank Amy Lesser for bringing me into the precious GO orbit. I can’t wait to tell my 16-year-old self that her fleeting thought in an East Village coffee shop actually turned into the most exciting reality. 

 


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