The first time I picked up a gorgeously gay copy of GO Magazine I was a spindly freshman in high school. It was the early 2000s and I was living in a small sleepy town an hour outside of Manhattan. Being the earnest lesbian teen that I was (and in many ways still am), I spent most of my time locked in my bedroom, dutifully memorizing Ani Difranco lyrics and re-watching the movie “Bound” on VHS. On this particular day, I had decided to hop a train to “the city” for a brief moment of suburban reprieve.
I was stomping around the East Village in my Dr. Martin boots (as displaced teens of the early 2000s were wont to do) Bikini Kill cranked to full-volume on my Discman, when I stumbled into a no-name coffee shop on the corner of 8th and St. Marks. I found myself magnetically drawn to a pile of cool-looking magazines, holding court on a communal table. I clumsily grabbed the first one my fingertips grazed and made my way to a lone armchair tucked away in the back corner of the shop. Within thirty seconds of leafing through the pages, the tornado that incessantly swirled through my teen brain, was suddenly standing zenfully still. I was transfixed by all these images of women! Women who looked like the coolest women I had ever laid my 15-year-old eyes upon! Some of the women had hair cropped close to their heads while others had long cascading waves. Some of the women rocked tattered jeans while others were draped in expensive-looking jackets. Regardless of their vast difference in window dressing all of the women that were captured on these shiny magazine pages, radiated this awesome energy that felt strangely…familiar to me? That’s when it dawned on me. They’re lesbians. Like me.
I spent the next several hours, curled up in a strange coffeeshop, devouring GO with a wild intensity I had never accessed before. I gazed at the images of these out gay women shamelessly clutching hands and declaring their love for their partners, when I was hit with an alarmingly positive thought: You know what Zara? You’re going to be OK. You’re life isn’t going to be a horrible just because you’re a dyke. It’s actually going to be pretty freaking awesome.
While GO respectfully acknowledged the very real hardships of being a lesbian, the magazine wasn’t centered around the horror of it all. GO was my first exposure to the “other side” of the gay world. The side that stretched beyond the “it’s a tough life, kid, but I support you” garble that forever tumbled out of the mouths of well-meaning grown-ups. The side where gay women didn’t just have to survive in the cruel, cold world, but could actually thrive. Have brilliant careers. Attend fabulous parties. Fall in unapologetic love! For the first time ever, I wasn’t just OK with being gay. I was excited about being gay! How lucky was I to be part of such a badass community?
When I started working at GO, it felt like coming home. To me, GO has always been a steady rock in an increasingly unsteady world. Regardless of the bevy of political hurricanes raging outside, GO has remained the haven we can collectively crawl into. A safe, strong, haven, teeming with family. ‘Cause we’re all a family. GO readers, the staff, the community at large… we’re all connected by something just as powerful as blood. Identity. Sexuality. Strength in the face of adversity. So before you flip through this month’s issue, allow me to officially welcome you home, fam.
This is a two-part Editor’s letter, read Amy’s letter here.