Focusing Forward

Everyone loves celebrating a birthday, but it's not the most important part of the magazine

Like both my grandfathers, when I have a good story I’m going to take every opportunity to tell it. So, don’t stop me if you’re heard this one before.

It was 16 years ago, almost to the day, that I sat at Randy Shulman’s dining room table, putting together the first issue of what then seemed to be a bit of a crazy idea: Metro Weekly. The magazine functioned under the barest of bare-bones operations, seemingly held together by chicken wire and chewing gum.

But quickly — far more quickly than either of us would have imagined — Metro Weekly moved on to being held together by a dedicated and professional staff of writers, designers, photographers and editors who over the years have created a body of work that Randy and I are proud to have published.

But here’s a new twist on the story: None of that really matters.

Oh, it matters to me personally. I love nothing more than going through old issues of the magazine and briefly reliving moments of my life and the moments of import for our community. I’m an inveterate pack rat, so I have plenty of issues in my own personal files at home so I can dive into the memory hole any time I wish. I know it matters to Randy, even more so than me — if you cut Randy, he bleeds Metro Weekly ink.

And of course it matters to the staff, both current and former, who put their own best work into the magazine. Neither Randy nor I have labored under the illusion that the success of Metro Weekly is solely a reflection of our own work. It’s a reflection of an ongoing collaboration with people I believe are outrageously talented and enormously committed.

It’s also a reflection of the LGBT community we cover and serve. While we may consider ourselves extraordinarily lucky to be working in jobs we love — in the modern, job-hopping 21st century, you don’t spend 16 years in a job you don’t want — we couldn’t do it without readers. And these days as we expand further into online content and video, we couldn’t do it without viewers.

And that’s why the story of our past doesn’t really matter.

What matters is what we do today — what stories we bring to the magazine, what change we’re able to help bring about in our community’s ongoing work for equality. This is a case where it is perfectly acceptable to ask, ”What have you done for us lately?” And, I hope, we’ll be able to keep answering, ”More than we did yesterday.”

Of course, we’re still going to do a short celebratory jig on our birthday, because we’ll only turn 16 once. For this year’s anniversary issue, we put together a selection of 16 of our favorite covers. This was not an easy task, even when we reminded ourselves we weren’t attempting to choose our favorite covers of all time. But, after surveying our staff, past and present, and deliberating for days, we found 16 we wanted to share again. (Plus five we figured we should just own up to, since no one’s perfect.)

I hope you enjoy taking a brief trip down memory lane. But more importantly, I’m looking forward to showing you our next issue, so you can see where we’re going tomorrow.

Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.

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