dreaming of a black queer media takeover

December 24, 2018
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You can never tell what a moment means until removed from it. While you are in it, you might suspect that a moment may be historic or iconic. You might even be told that by trusted tastemakers and critics, but the only true way to tell how powerful a moment will or will not be is  through time. Until eras and artists are matured with time, you can’t rightfully declare anything or anyone’s important because we do not know. What I do have is excitement.

Zach Stafford has just been appointed as the editor-in-chief of The Advocate magazine (the platform’s first Black person in the role) just weeks after Raquel Willis was appointed to be Executive Editor at Out Magazine (the first trans woman of any race to be appointed in a leadership at the company).  Both of these Black iconoclasts have disrupted mainstream LGBTQI+ media by bringing the fullness of both their race and gender/sexual identity to the work and space they find themselves in. The sentimental and significant nature of this moment feels historic especially when we think of the building that burned down to the ground that was the production site of queer-affirmative and Black publication, FIRE!!

For so long, showing up—representation and symbolism—was its own type of resistance work as it pertains to media. White LGBTQI+ mainstream media has notoriously erased and decentered the identities that live outside of white, cis manhood. Because the LGBTQI+’s most popular and powerful platforms and publications, Out and The Advocate, were centered around the experience of white manhood, that left out both crucial sociopolitical moments as well as cultural offerings created by Black people and people of color who also identified as a part of the LGBTQI+ community. Their hiring feels like a deepening of possibility for a world of storytellers and artists that is overdue.

Most of the current excitement I hold for this news is in the idea of how both Willis and Stafford both can shift the trajectory of LGBTQI+ focused platforms, and be a part of a moment that redirects who is controlling the voices being heard and what stories are being amplified.

It may be too soon to declare this moment revolutionary—that remains to be seen with time and inside the work—but it is without a doubt an exciting time to be a Black queer storyteller.