Lavender’s first issue was published in June of 1995. In purple and black ink on newsprint paper, the background images include some gender nonconforming folks, a drag queen, some women practicing martial arts, and people wearing what appear to be political buttons. The cover story asked “What’s NORMAL, Anyway?” which deconstructed how various community members felt about the term “normal” in 1995. 499 issues later, we still don’t have that answer. What is normal? What’s the norm? Who wants to be normed?
Depending on your perspective, everything and nothing is normal. The norm may be conformity or “passing” or staying in the closet or appearing heterosexual in one’s homosexuality; it also may be good or bad, depending on who craves or rejects being normed. Who is belonging to what and at what cost? Or, as this commmunity can relate, who is excluded from what and at what cost? What we’ve done for 500 issues is present countless images and stories about what a new normal can look like, a normal that is inclusive; a normal that can be exemplified by the image on our cover. From marriage rights to families to arts to sports to news to religion to the various groups within this community, Lavender presents the community to itself as well as to the larger society.
What’s normal, anyway? It’s up to you, which is why our job is to amplify the messages, stories, and images of this community. Giving more information about this community allows those within—as well as those who don’t identify as part of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or Allied community—ways to find what is relevant and resonant within their own lives. Ways to relate, ways to empathize, ways to redefine “normal.”
How have we done this? Lavender Media encompasses more than the 500 issues you may have held in your hands over the past 19 years; it also includes a substantial online presence with multiple websites, videos, podcasts, and our social networking messages, as well as frequent and popular events like First Thursdays around the Twin Cities. As an independently gay-owned and -operated business, Lavender is a debt-free publicatoin that has seen great growth, both locally and regionally (and globally, considering that ¾ of our audience is reading us online, for free). Lavender serves the community by being accessible to all. Our commitment to excellence, sound business model, and quality employees have allowed us to use technology to expand our reach with each passing year.
Lavender Magazine is available at over 900 distribution sites, every two weeks; LavenderMagazine.com hosted a quarter of a million unique users last year; BigGayNews.com has over 61,100 Twitter followers (@BigGayNews) and is published in 12 languages (English, French, Spanish, Czech, Greek, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portugese, Italian, Dutch, and German); over 16,000 people have free subscriptions to Lavender via Newsstand on iPads and iPhones; Lavender has over 3,800 Twitter followers
(@lavmag) and more than 5,500 “Likes” on Facebook; all of Lavender’s advertisers get increased online and mobile visbility on our Friends of Community Map (FOCMap.com) platform each year; and our breadth and depth only continues to grow. Simply put, Lavender Media has been presenting the world with a new normal for going on 20 years.
The new normal is well illustrated by the members of our community on the cover of this commemorative issue. But, any one of the photos in this issue could’ve been considered a cover photo for the new normal, as each is a snapshot of our community in the Twin Cities. We may not consider ourselves to be similar to all of the people in these pages, but we’re all in this community together. It’s a beautiful thing, acceptance. Being open to who can be a member of our club is just as important as what it’s like for this club to be accepted by the larger society in which we’re all already a part, as citizens in our towns, states, and country. In this case, the smiling trio wearing the “Love makes a family” t-shirts tells us that not only do they belong in our community, but that more than what’s been considered “normal” can make a family. Love makes a family: love of partners, friends, pets, teammates, coworkers, doorknockers, congregants…our families of choice, rather than families of relation, are just as normal as any family.
So, thank you for letting us continue to present to the world what the rainbow community in the Twin Cities is: the new normal.
With you and with thanks,