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I’m not the man I used to be.
If you look at a picture of me from 20 years ago, you’ll recognize me even though that 27-year-old is a much different person than today’s middle-aged gay man. You can see me in my eyes and maybe a bit in my smile. But the long hair is long gone, replaced by a short cut and more forehead. The same goes for the skin that over two decades of tanning, peeling, flaking, stretching and shrinking has replaced itself with an entirely new set of cells.
I live inside a different package these days.
And even inside that package the part of me that thinks it’s me isn’t actually the same person from 20 years ago. I’ve changed my mind about many things in that time and sometimes changed it back. I know more now than I did then, partly because of blunt experience, partly because I put the effort into doing so. Nothing stays the same for 20 years of life, which is why life stays interesting.
Naturally, the same goes for the magazine you’re either holding in your hand or scrolling on your screen. Twenty years ago when Metro Weekly first came off the press it was a lot like me at the time: a little slapdash, bursting with energy and a bit naive. I mean all those things in a good way — it was slapdash because we had an idea for a magazine and simply decided to plow ahead. It was a moment when naivete paid off because the young rush in where experience fears to tread.
We went by our nickname “MW” in those days, one of the many ways in which the magazine then is different than the magazine today. It was smaller then, designed for easy pick up in the days when our distribution was limited to bars, restaurants and a couple of retail stores. It was black and white with spot color — “spot color” being a difficult concept to explain to a generation that grew up with home printers that output high-res rainbows in seconds flat.
The magazine now goes by its given name and at a glance is a barely recognizable adult compared to its newsprint youth. Metro Weekly lives in a different package these days.
And what lives in that package today is different from what popped into existence 20 years ago. As you’ll see when you page (or scroll!) through this issue, our scope has changed and our ambition has grown. But you can recognize us between the lines and behind the design of those first few years — the hunger for interesting stories, the commitment to excellent writing, the willingness to try new things and push the boundaries of what a gay publication could be.
You can see us in there, if you’re looking. Because Randy Shulman and I have been there since the beginning, people often assume that what they see is only us, but that’s not true. What you see in Metro Weekly is the ongoing sum of the reporters and editors and critics and photographers and artists who for 20 years have given their talents to the magazine.
A magazine is more than a stack of stapled paper or a hosted Web domain. A magazine is an attitude toward and a passion for a particular realm — for Metro Weekly that attitude and passion always has been for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. That’s what I see when I look back on the amazing journey we’ve taken from the spring of 1994 to today.
The package may have changed and the approach may have matured, but I’ll always recognize the passion on the page.
Sean Bugg is the editor emeritus of Metro Weekly. He currently serves as the executive director of the Next Generation Leadership Foundation. He can be reached at