magazine is a semi-monthly periodical targeted to gay teen boys
and young men. Originally based in San Francisco
but now operating from San Diego
is a high-quality publication with international distribution, and is sent to its subscribers in an opaque, black plastic wrapper (for the sake of privacy
). Its demographic alone makes it unique among the numerous worldwide publications for gay men
, and it bears the additional distinction of being supported almost entirely by subscriptions and news stand purchases instead of advertising
XY is not a porn mag. It contains a great deal of thoughtfully written articles focused on the subject of growing up gay in America. Among the articles contributed by staff and guest writers, XY regularly contains submissions from its subscribers. It would fall into the "zine" category were it not for the professional photos it contains, shot by some of the industry's most well-known and highly regarded photographers. XY is no coffee table book — flipping quickly through the Fifth Anniversary issue reminds one more of technical documentation or transcripts than of consumer entertainment. Everything I have read in XY is generally well-written and often quite moving and inspiring, as most subjects covered are from a personal perspective and deal with real life and issues faced by gay teens.
Started in 1995 by Peter Ian Cummings, XY is published ten times a year. It is printed on high quality glossy magazine stock with a heavy cover, similar to many adult fashion magazines. Whereas most of these sorts of periodicals are as thick as a phone book and contain 95% fashion ads and perfume/cologne samples, XY by comparison is rather thin and contains almost no ads. This is not because the magazine is trying to uphold some altruistic ideal against capitalism, but is due to homophobia and bigotry among advertisers.
Normally, most fashion advertisers would flock to a magazine like XY because its readership is primarily teenage boys, the number-one male buyers of casual clothes (gay boys even more so.) This is the number one demographic that fashion advertisers are trying to reach. Yet, there has never been a single paid fashion ad in XY from any major brand. Companies like Abercrombie and Fitch, the Gap, Calvin Klein and Levi Strauss all advertise in other teen fashion magazines like Teen People and Details, and even in other gay periodicals like Out and The Advocate, but not in XY. The difference? These magazines are aimed at "straight" youth, or at upscale, monogamous, middle-aged gay couples, which is how "straight" white Americans want gays to be.
The San Francisco Examiner described XY as, among all magazines, "the one most on the edge of cultural change." XY tells the truth about gay teens and their lives, their loves, their perspective on and place in the world. It is unapologetic, uncompromising, and real. And apparently, this scares the shit out of mainstream America.
Most advertisers seem to be terrified of XY's portrayal of gay youth, and fear that supporting the magazine will expose them as being gay themselves. Some ad execs even believe that they will lose their jobs if such an association is made, and that their industry will be damaged as a result. Many fashion industry ad insiders have revealed this fact (in so many words) when explaining to XY's publisher their reasons and excuses for not advertising in the magazine. For detailed information, visit xy.com and click on the link "Scary Love: Read about XY's problems with the advertisers".
I discovered XY in an issue of Rolling Stone magazine. I decided to become a subscriber because I believe in their cause. I was happy to find that the magazine's really quite good. While my teen years are behind me now, reading XY makes me remember what it was like growing up gay, struggling with the homophobia that exists in American culture. XY is a beacon of hope for gay teen boys and young men who are struggling to come to terms with themselves and their sexuality.
XY is available at several US bookseller chains, including Barnes and Noble and Borders.
Some information in this writeup came from XY magazine and xy.com