This just in: Just Out isn't gay enough.
Well, actually, it's old news. For many years, one of the most frequent criticisms of Just Out, the main news outlet for PDX GLBTers, has been that it tends to skew toward lesbians. Conversely, during those same years, some separatist-sounding lesbians have complained that it's still not lesbian enough.
I guess you can't be all things to all queer people.
Recently, though, over lunch at Starky's, the issue came to a boiling point. That's when Pat Lanagan, owner of the Fat Cobra adult video stores, sat down with Just Out's publisher, Marty Davis, and accused her of not accurately representing "regular gay guys" in her paper. The confrontation brought Davis to tears, and set off a war of words that wound its way to my desk.
Queer Window readers will recall Lanagan from a recent column [May 31, 2006], after he'd turned Porky's, a queer-friendly NoPo neighborhood tavern, into a full-fledged gay bar. Some weren't happy with the changes. That's just fine with Lanagan.
"I wanted them out," he told me, referring to Porky's previous, chain-smoking crowd. "You ever garden? It's like putting in a new lawn. You've got to kill the old one, re-seed and let the new one flourish."
It's strange Lanagan chose the analogy of a garden, because when I sat down at the paper's office with Davis to discuss his complaints, she, too, used a garden image when speculating why Lanagan ran off Porky's old crowd. But that's where the similarities end.
Now, I believe Lanagan is sincere in thinking that the 23-year-old paper could do a better job (or that he could, since he hinted he might start his own paper) of showing the "type" of gay man he most resembles: older, a little jockish around the edges. I don't think he's just trying to pimp for his bar and video stores—although increased coverage certainly wouldn't hurt his business.
But I think Davis is right when she says Lanagan misses the boat in his assertion that Just Out is just a lesbian rag.
"It drives me nuts when people say Just Out is too lesbian," said Davis in her office, where she again welled up with tears. "I run a newspaper that's gay, lesbian and, well, not that much bi. We try to be gender-balanced."
Lanagan says he sees Just Out as more gender-neutral.
"Every time I pick it up, I see pictures of attractive women balanced with those of effeminate, emasculated men," says Lanagan. "My goal is to improve the scene for gay men, and I see Just Out doing the opposite."
Could they both be right in their own way?
Both Lanagan and Davis say they represent the mainstream. In fact, Davis goes so far as to say that her publication is just "a little vanilla." And Lanagan calls himself a "regular guy." So what's the beef?
Well, gang, perception really is everything. It's time we admitted once and for all—and I mean all—it's not just a guy's world, gay or otherwise, anymore. I think then Lanagan would understand what Davis is doing.