I have never really been interested in reading the gay press. I don’t know if this means I am a traitor or trying to deny my sexuality or whatever but the truth of it is that I find all of it, without exception, maddeningly dull.
Whether it’s the po-faced reporting of the Pink Paper or the scary zoom lens-obsessed freebies you find in Soho, I’ve carefully avoided as much of this reading material as I can.
One magazine I have been unable to evade is Attitude. My other half occasionally buys it and so it finds its way into our living room. When it does, I usually pick it up and give it a cursory glance. The formula remains the same across most of the issues I’ve seen: smatterings of consumer porn; reviews; fashion shoots with underweight men in their late teens wearing clothes only Elton and David could afford; interviews with supposed gay icons along with the most icky part of all- an interview with a straight, attractive male celebrity.
Now, why the ick, you may ask? Am I so shallow as to assume that the gay readership of this magazine wouldn’t be interested in a straight celebrity? Well, of course not. The problem lies in the content of the interview. The interview will usually be accompanied by a ‘shirtless’ photospread, always really badly shot and photoshopped and showing the subject in a variety of poses that someone who had never had sex with anyone other than themselves may find alluring. Said photos will then be adorned with pull quotes which highlight anything remotely homosexual the straight celeb may have hinted on during the interview. The copy itself will be shallow and badly composed, with over half of it asking questions desperate to tease out the tiniest smidgen of homosexuality, and most of the rest of it concerned with how the star feels about getting his kit off and casting aspersions on his sexual prowess.
This month’s celeb- an airbrushed Steve Jones- is photographed as if he were a juicy steak in a butcher’s window; one image shows a close-up of his chest and nothing else. The questions he is asked are adolescent and, frankly, boring, and the ‘revelation’ that he kissed another male friend when pissed and for a bet (clearly included to help on their way any reader who struggled to orgasm over the chest shot) seems forced and was probably proffered so that Jones could end the interview sooner. After all that, tagged onto the end of the interview is a question about growing up in Wales, which is notable only for the fact it is completely out-of-step with the rest of the piece.
Attitude, and other magazines like it, have done a lot of good work in raising awareness and promoting acceptability of homosexuality, as well as encouraging unsure young teens to take that terrifying step out in the wider gay world, but drivel like this overshadows any merit and that’s a shame. Is this the kind of press that is supposed to inform and inspire me?