To say I am not a fan of Attitude magazine is an understatement. I used to buy it almost religiously when I first came out of the closet and well into my years at university, but after a while, it became tedious. Within its pages, the diversity of the community wasn’t being shown, and I started to feel alienated for not being the cut-and-copy gay male being featured. More recently, the magazine has managed to publish piece after piece in poor taste, or in direct opposition to what we need from gay media.
Publishing a piece on why young LGBTQ people don’t need to know our history and should just enjoy the ‘party’ that is Pride was the first misstep, followed by denying all existence of the piece and rushing out a counter article about why our history is so important. Then came the Body Issue during LGBTQ history month rather than, well, a history issue, followed by an ally issue that put James Cordon front and centre, a man who has garnered laughs for portraying homosexuality as a joke. Then finally tweeting out the most ridiculous response to Trump’s comments about guns in schools, following another mass shooting, that a stripped down, muscle-clad math teacher turned model should be the only guns people should be focusing on in schools – no, the guns that kill people will always be the main focus.
People seemed shocked that Attitude could print or tweet any of this, but not me. They’ve been so off the mark for so long, and it’s really not difficult to see. When questioned, they react by blocking people, or temporarily paying into the novelty bank. Oh, you want a person of colour on the cover? They did it but only because you shamed them.
Media directed at gay men in the U.K. especially, has failed time and time again for not being in the right moment, and it pays heavily into the idea that, well since we got equal marriage, what more is there to fight for? There’s still plenty to fight for, and still plenty to address in our own community. Body shaming, racism, transphobia, biphobia; all things that happen but not if you live in the gleaming world of Attitude Towers – because you simply don’t exist. Whilst you will find the occasional “body positive” posts in the magazine, flick through to the fitness style pages and you will find someone of a similar build being told that this diet, and that exercise will make them look better…how about, they look good as they are?
Examples like this is what causes the body issues in our community. If you don’t fit a certain type, then you’re outside of the norm, yet our community is made up of different “tribes” like bears and otters, and cubs, and chubs, twinks, the list can go on. It doesn’t show us, as a community in the best way. It’s almost as if Attitude is there just in case some heterosexual person were to pick it up, it’s easy to understand, because it ticks all those boxes that make it stereotypical. We’re obsessed with fashion, men, bodies, and sex. That’s all we are, that’s all it boils down to. It’s not that we care about our rights, or the rights of our brothers and sisters who are trans, or a person of colour, or hell, even female.
This is why I stopped reading, I even stopped following the social media. What is in those pages applies only to the white gay male that has a nice body. If you’re bigger, you go on the diet page, or you’re paraded as that one body positive article that you won’t find in the body issue, or the naked issue. Sex sells, but y’know, fat people have sex too! It becomes a circus, because they’ll realise they have missed someone and then, oh, there you are, shoved in so that they fill that quota of one article a year for that demographic. It does nothing but adds to the idea that we are a community all about inclusion whilst excluding those that don’t fit the mould.
There is an argument in my own head about how am I going to fix this if I don’t buy it and make myself aware of every nuance, but y’know, I’m not going to fix it by adding sales or views. Hell, I probably can’t fix it because for a majority of people, it isn’t broken. It isn’t broken because it doesn’t make you question what is going on in our community. What is written on those pages is gospel, and if it didn’t appear, then what is the big deal? The big deal is that we are a community centred around inclusion, whilst happily excluding others by different determining factors. We are all in this together, if you can’t get behind one fight, you can’t get behind the other.
How can you fix it? By holding Attitude accountable. By more than the handful of people currently asking them to change, to also ask for change. To give other people voices and not because it’s going to be the “token” piece, but to remove some of the pieces that pay into “you fit if you’re this” and letting people see the diversity. By adding in pieces that questions the body-shaming, the racism, the misogyny that is within our community and finding some resolution to change our society in the bigger picture of society in general.
Is this my call for any reader I have, who still reads that magazine to stop buying it? Well you can make up your own mind. What I will say is though, just weigh up how much representation that magazine gives you as an individual, and what exactly it puts out into the world about our community. That’s all it’s about, it’s about having the right attitude to question, and asking the right questions. Could you give it to any male in the LGBTQ community (cis, non-binary or trans) and would they be able to relate to it? Would they?