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“In these times we fight for ideas, and newspapers are our fortresses.”
—Heinrich Heine

Walking out of a club one night, I couldn’t help but notice the rack of free magazines and newspapers by the door. I grabbed the magazine on top and looked it over as we walked into the parking lot. The handsome, shirtless man on the cover was a promising start to my reading pleasure, but then I noticed the magazine’s name: TWIT.

What kind of idiot names a magazine TWIT? I wondered; even more, what kind of idiot, no matter how hot, agrees to have his image under the banner of TWIT?

I turned to my friend. “Hey, look at the name of this magazine. I wonder if that’s because the people who read it are twits or if the people who write it are.”

This Week in Texas, dumbass. It says it right there,” she replied, pointing.

And indeed it did, in much smaller print off to the side. Hard to see next to the large, colorful acronym dominating the top left corner of the cover.

That was years ago, and I became a regular reader of TWIT after that. TWIT is still in publication; while I no longer live in Texas and can’t pick up a copy, I can stay informed on the Texas gay scene courtesy of the gay mag’s online publication. Like most mainstream publications, TWIT has turned to the internet to help it stay a viable force in the publishing world.

Since moving to Louisville, Kentucky, I’ve learned we have two LGBT newspapers: The Word, which actually serves Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan, and The Letter. Most major cities in the US have such a newspaper intended for the gay and lesbian crowd, although, as with many aspects of gay culture, more attention is paid to the “gay” than the “lesbian”.

Bisexuals are frequently forgotten altogether, and transgenders exist only in the pictures of the drag queens playing local clubs. Yet, despite their preferential focus on gay men, these gay rags have been instrumental in uniting a community and propelling forward the march towards equality.

Thanks to the online versions of these papers, it’s possible to check out “the scene” in almost any city to which one might be travelling. The format is virtually identical for all papers: a cover page of LGBT related news, a few reviews, a health and living section, some classifieds, local columnists waxing and whining about local issues, a bit of juicy gossip (juicy only if you know who these local celebs are), and possibly some sports. You know, like The New York Times, but with a pink boa and a tiara.

Many gay rags also feature an “Out on the Town” section, highlighting the gay and lesbian crowd in one of two settings. The first is the fundraiser, where distinguished homosexuals mingle with wealthy heterosexuals in support of a worthy gay-oriented charity.

The second setting is the bar scene. Most often these pics are of the cute to gorgeous gay crowd, poised with cocktail in hand and taking a break from dancing. Typically, the subjects are men, frequently shirtless, because it gets so darn hot on that crowded dance floor when you’ve been swilling down Jaeger Bombs.

A far more interesting set of pictures would be these same guys waking up the next morning around noon, wondering how they got home. Or whose home they wound up in.

(Despite the countless hours I’ve spent in gay bars, I’ve never been approached to have my picture taken. But then, I tend to keep my clothes on when in public, and I don’t look like I just walked off a shoot for a Perry Ellis ad. Not that I’m bitter.)

Michael has been writing for PopMatters since 2000. His primary focus, aside from queer culture, is television reviews and commentary, and his article Male Bashing on TV has been reprinted in two college textbooks. He currently lives in Louisville, KY, and is a Lecturer of Communication Studies at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, IN. As a teacher, he has an interest in the study of contemporary political rhetoric and argumentation. He and his partner Jim have been living in un-wedded bliss since 1995.

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