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For 40 years, alt-press covers unreported news, stories of struggle


Nathan Gunter June 25th, 2009

One of the marks of any community striving for greater recognition and visibility is the creation of media outlets geared toward that community. While nationwide magazines for the gay, lesbian, ...

One of the marks of any community striving for greater recognition and visibility is the creation of media outlets geared toward that community. While nationwide magazines for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community such as The Advocate and Out are widely available, regional publications have come and gone. Oklahoma City has seen its share of GLBT-oriented publications, starting with the creation of The Gayly Oklahoman in 1983.

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GAY COMMUNITY

"I think the name was the biggest factor in its success," said Victor Gorin, who started selling ads for the paper only two months after its inception. "The name was catchy and identified what kind of paper it was without being offensive."

The Gayly started as a monthly publication, reaching a circulation of about 10,000 by 1984, and became a biweekly in 1990.

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Although the paper proved a popular read with the metro GLBT community, Gorin said the publication's ad sales and circulation never allowed it to employ more than a single full-timer and a few part-time staffers. The paper ceased publication in 2006 after it was purchased by a Tulsa company.

Hard News Online, also known as HNOKC, arose in 2003 as a Web site that covered local news for the metro gay community.

"HNOKC started following a conversation I had with (owner) Mike McLain," said former managing editor Michael Bratcher. "He had always wanted to start an online publication catering to the needs of the community."

The site launched at the Oklahoma City gay pride festivities in 2003, employing a part-time staff of writers and editors. When the Gayly closed, HNOKC served as the metro gay community's primary source of news, but ceased operations in 2008.

"It was a part-time job for everyone involved," Bratcher said. "Eventually, we grew tired and experienced burnout."

Currently, the only newspaper specifically serving the gay metro community is the Tulsa-based Metro Star News, which began publishing in December 2003. 

"The mainstream media doesn't cover much GLBT news. There are a lot of things happening in our community, and we're the only ones that pay any attention to it," said editor-in-chief, Chaz Ward.

"We have the freedom to concentrate more on items that are of interest to the GLBT community," said Gorin, who now works as writer, copy editor, photographer and ad sales representative for the Metro Star. "A newspaper that specializes in one community can go into greater depth by appealing to that demographic."

GAY COMMUNITY
Former HNOKC editor Jon Roberts said print and online media can coexist in keeping the local gay community informed and connected.

"One of the things we were in charge of was keeping people informed of events in the community, and now social media has taken over a lot of that," Roberts said. "Ultimately, gay media should become more integrated into mainstream media. But there is an advantage to having someone who is intimately familiar with the GLBT covering it."

Roberts said mainstream news outlets play a role in covering gay-related stories "in proportion to what's appropriate for their audience," but noted that no publication can equally serve all readers.

"I know in these times, when newspapers and other media are cutting staff, it's virtually impossible to dedicate specific reporters," Bratcher said. "However, I think if reporters would just take a few moments to get to know the GLBT community, it would really make a difference." "Nathan Gunter

 
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