News reporter for PinkNews Josh Milton witnessed the crisis first-hand when he was only six months into his job at Gay Star News. In July 2019, the publication closed down because of financial difficulties.
"Many community leaders and media peers considered the shutting down of Gay Star News as indicative of wider, structural problems with minority media," he says.
Whilst many other publications had to wrestle with cuts and closures, co-founder of Gay Star News Tris Reid-Smith explained that the lack of support from businesses outside of Pride, a key event in the LGBTQ+ calendar, had made running the publication more difficult.
"Rather than working with us to engage and serve LGBTQ+ people year-round, many have chosen to ‘rainbow-wash’. If companies and sponsors took us even half as seriously as we deserve, there would be far more of us," reads his statement from July 2019.
Although Gay Star News was able to relaunch earlier this year, other publications have not had that much luck. Layoffs at BuzzFeed last year left only one reporter covering the LGBTQ+ beat and publications like Into and Hello Mr. have shut down completely.
As a consequence, some mainstream publications and corporations have begun to explore LGBTQ+ stories and issues to fill the sudden gap in the market.
But, like with Grindr’s recently launched online space Bloop, this can end up playing to stereotypes or only serving a narrow section of the wider LGBTQ+ community if not done right.
"The tiled torsos of Grindr can sometimes feel analogous to 'gay media'," says Milton.
"As groundbreaking as that may have felt decades ago, the acknowledgement that maybe a cis white guy isn’t representative of our colourful community is something more publishers are beginning to realise.
"An outlet like PinkNews - run by minority folk, for minority folk and their allies - is crucial in expressing facts of our realities in an authentic way."
Initiatives promoting diversity in newsrooms are welcomed as having minority groups contributing to editorial direction and decision-making helps cover the topic holisticaly. However, it has to go beyond tokenism.
"A quick queer hire won’t save structural pay differences, articles angled to promote transphobia and overall perpetuation of hate.
"Talk to us. Let us criticise you. You will make mistakes and that’s okay, as long as you learn from them."
Despite the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ publications, Milton remains optimistic that they will continue to exist in some form.
"LGBTQ+ media was birthed out of necessity and accountability and remains - decades on - a vital tool to interrogate a world designed to erase and eradicate us."
Free daily newsletter
- Hollie Wong of GAY TIMES, on community building and resilience on social media
- QueerAF bets on membership revenue to finance its mission to fix ‘broken’ LGBTQAI+ media
- Is Snapchat still worth publishers' attention?
- "Diversity doesn't happen by accident. It's very deliberate"
- Transphobia Project uses data visualisation to zoom in on outlets that spread biased transgender content