Metro Weekly

A Monumental Milestone for Metro Weekly

Former managing editor and longtime columnist offers congratulations and gratitude to Metro Weekly at its three-decade mark.

My résumé reminds me it was probably spring of 2004 when I knocked on that stranger’s basement-apartment door at 11th and P streets NW. At home, I hoped, was the former Metro Weekly “coverboy” I wanted to interview. He was at the center of a mini maelstrom, working in the office of a GOP congressman. As such, he was potential ammunition for a gay activist shooting for points in Capitol Hill culture wars.

That was my entrée into Metro Weekly. The editors wanted to boost news coverage, and that’s where I came in. While I don’t believe that poor coverboy answered the door, whatever coverage I delivered was sufficient to land me a permanent spot those 20 years ago. And that’s where I remained for a decade. As for the magazine itself, Metro Weekly is celebrating 30 years this month. That’s not just notable, but monumental.

When I was studying journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University, students were required to participate in an internship. With an unofficial “Russian studies” minor of my own design, I was eager to apply at a nascent magazine that was to simultaneously publish in English and Russian, in St. Petersburg and Washington. A few weeks passed with no word about my application.

After repeated calls, with the window of squeezing in a summer internship closing, someone finally answered. Seems he was just there to help clean out the D.C. office for this enterprise that never managed to actually make it off the ground.

There was an LGBT-specific internship in play, though I was hesitant to apply. I feared a Queer internship might “gay-ghettoize” my career. Indeed, that internship did set the course of my career, but it was nothing to fear. At least, there was nothing to fear that wouldn’t apply to any other outlet, particularly in community journalism. The spot where I interned remains viable. My first queer publication out of college, in Portland, Ore., has since folded. It’s got plenty of company.

Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism maintains a Local News Initiative program. From there, we get “The State of Local News, 2023.” In that report’s Executive Summary, we read, for example, “Since 2018, the number of new local news digital start-ups established annually has roughly equaled the number that go dark. Most ethnic and minority-owned media have suffered from the same dramatic decline in advertising revenue as mainstream newspapers.

As a result, more than 150 long-standing ethnic news operations closed during the pandemic.” It’s fair to equate “ethnic” with “LGBTQ” when you’re just taking a pulse. There’s a pile of data to examine regarding local outlets, and it is bleak.

Nelson Muntz may have been referring specifically to print journalism in the 2008 episode of The Simpsons, “E Pluribus Wiggum,” when he delivered the line, “Ha-ha! Your medium is dying!” but it goes beyond print.

Bigger, broader news outlets have suffered. Good night, Pulitzer Prize-winning BuzzFeed News. Sweet dreams, It’s no wonder a November 2022 piece from CNBC featuring the Top 10 regretted college majors, via ZipRecruiter, featured journalism in the top spot with 87 percent.

Amid this media morass, Metro Weekly deserves unconditional congratulations for simply surviving to 30. It’s a monumental achievement. Well done, Metro Weekly!

On a more personal note, I’d like to also offer my gratitude to this plucky magazine that allowed me a front-row seat to so much of the LGBTQ universe, from local politics to world-renowned luminaries. It might be hard to pick just a few highlights, but serving as a Metro Weekly editor taught me how to make cuts with efficient ease.

If you’re old enough to remember D.C. fighting for marriage equality, you might remember the important role D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality played. It was a pleasure to see that effort up close, and to speak with the group’s Dennis and Christine Wiley, spouses and co-pastors at Covenant Baptist Church. I had no idea that years later I’d be watching their daughter Samira on Handmaid’s Tale! There are so many stories from the struggle for marriage equality, but the Wileys were certainly a highlight for me.

Thanks to Metro Weekly, I found myself learning a remarkable amount about the oppressed LGBTQ community in Uganda, first by writing about Moses Mworeko, a Ugandan asylum seeker. Seeing his Metro Weekly interview twisted in a Ugandan scandal rag was upsetting, but also educational.

Spending an afternoon with Judy Shepard was heartbreaking, yet inspiring. Janet Mock taught me the meaning of privilege, and how to harness it. Lily Tomlin, gracious enough to go well over her agreed upon 30 minutes, had me in stitches.

Working for Metro Weekly taught me that the Leather/BDSM/fetish community is not a mere curiosity, but collectively a leadership powerhouse for the Queer community and beyond.

Aside from the reporting and editing, I got to throw beads! So many, many beads. From the back of a slow-moving pick-up truck, offering an unparalleled perch from which to savor the Capital Pride Parade experience.

That’s a tiny sampling, of course, but enough to illustrate why I have abundant reason to be thankful for my full-time decade at Metro Weekly. This magazine has been a precious piece of my life.

I am truly grateful for the magazine’s endurance, and for the incredible experiences I have been granted in executing coverage in Metro Weekly‘s name. I have great confidence that the mission will continue, that Metro Weekly will further evolve and reach an ever-wider audience. I feel certain the magazine will keep finding new stories to tell, more arts to celebrate, unsung corners of our community to showcase.

So, Metro Weekly, at this 30-year milestone, I offer a heartfelt wish for 30 more.

Will O’Bryan is a former Metro Weekly managing editor, living in D.C. with his husband. He is online at

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