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Filling a niche

LGBT community news returns, this time with a shorter name and wider coverage area.

Emily Summars June 22nd, 2011

The Gayly, a newspaper focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender topics and events, is filling the void left by its predecessor, The Gayly Oklahoman, which closed in 2006 after covering the beat for more than two decades.

Robin Dorner conducts an interview for the Gayly.
Credits: Mark Hancock

The Gayly’s first issue was in March 2011, and will hit stands the first of every month.

“We were in an opportunity to bring the paper back around the middle of February,” said Cory Cart, the paper’s editor-in-chief, publisher and owner. “We literally, from deciding to do this until the first issue came out, put the paper together in a matter of a few weeks.”

Cart said the Gayly hired staff from the previous pub to help launch and complete the March issue. But Cart said the Gayly also hired new staff and tweaked the name “to give it a fresher take.”

“People just informally called it ‘The Gayly.’ That’s just how everyone knew it,” Cart said. “I learned we really serve a wide audience and wide area … so we dropped the ‘Oklahoman’ off the end.”

Cart said he doesn’t know specifics about the previous paper’s demise, but he believed the disappearance was caused by growing pains.

“I think there was a time they needed to regroup because they weren’t prepared for facing the changing face of the industry,” Cart said.

To ensure it won’t happen again, Cart said his company, Equal Media — and the paper’s publisher — is trying to do more online content and social media. Cart also owns Cart & Co. Media, an advertising and public relations firm.

Gayly contributor Paula Sophia Schonauer remembers the four years she wrote for the former incarnation.

“I wrote just about anything that came across my desk,” Schonauer said.

Schonauer reminisced about staff get-togethers and their involvement in activism. Beginning as advocacy journalism in 1983, The Gayly Oklahoman was one of the first news outlets in Oklahoma to address misconceptions about HIV and AIDS, Schonauer said.

“We covered transgendered issues before ‘transgender’ was a common word,” Schonauer said. “Unfortunately, there are still a lot of lies and mythologies about the gay community and the gay agenda. There’s not enough stories in the main press that address the lives of average GLBT Americans.”

Schonauer says people in Oklahoma associate LGBT individuals with what is found in the stereotypical bar scene: vacant people looking for meaningless sexual hook-ups.

“That’s not even what a majority of the GLBT community is like, and I think the Gayly can do a good job of pointing that out,” Schonauer said. “We have families. We have jobs. We’re contributing to the community at large.”

Gayly advertising account executive Rik Godbey said the paper really matters to the community. Covering legislation, bullying, same-sex marriage and many other issues important to LGBT individuals, the Gayly fills a niche the mainstream media isn’t covering.

“The community needs to know what’s going on,” Godbey said. “We’re so scattered throughout the state and beyond, that without a newspaper, we’re scattered.”

The Gayly remains true to its Oklahoma roots, but serves a much greater area, including New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. The print edition has distribution points in Oklahoma City, Norman, Tulsa and Stillwater. The Gayly has a waiting list of cities that want to join the distribution network, but right now the paper doesn’t have the resources.

“The straight community has been overwhelmingly supportive by distributing the paper in their businesses and by advertising in it, reading it and commenting on it. It’s coming back in such a quick manner,” Cart said.

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