It’s not always easy marketing “a gay magazine” to the “general” public. Photo editor Brooke Didonato and I learned that lesson at Sunday’s Blast-Off when we gave away Fusion T-shirts and Fusion magazines for FREE.
Some students we approached refused to take anything because they weren’t “a part of that community,” and many others just walked away from our booth in the most silent and awkward fashion imaginable.
Even I’m sometimes awkward about marketing Fusion. Frequently, I refer Fusion as Kent State’s “LGBTQ” magazine and follow it up quickly with a tagline like “also Kent State’s edgiest magazine.” “LGBTQ” is still an obscure acronym to many people, who most I imagine would be turned off if the first thing they learned was its mission to advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangsender students.
Some, like the student quoted above, must think that “a gay magazine” can’t offer anything valuable to a straight male reader.
I could preach all day about how Fusion offers something great to any reader, and the truth is—the same goes for almost every advocacy magazine out there. I remember when I first picked up an issue of UHURU, “a black magazine.” Racial issues were so 1990s, I thought. I only cared to pick it up because it was another student media publication, but I’m happy I did.
This is sure to sound corny, but some of the stories in the magazine opened my mind to a new perspective. One story in specific about a black female student hesitant to introduce her parents to her white boyfriend caught my attention immensely. Not only was it a well-reported and written story about interracial couples discriminated against the black community—it was a story that highlighted an issue I was unaware previously. Strangely enough, my white skin didn’t stop me from immersing myself into a story tainted by black advocacy.
And yet, I’m certain UHURU–and Artemis to a less extent—would encounter the same scrutiny Fusion faced Sunday from some members of the “general” public. (Unfortunately, neither Artemis or UHURU were present at Blast-Off.)
I never could imagine students refusing free stuff at Blast-Off—since for many, that’s the whole point of going to the annual event that caps off Kent State’s orientation weekend. However, by the time Blast-Off was half-way through, hardly 20 magazines were taken. (The T-shirts, on the other hand, were eaten up once Brooke and I began dangling a T-shirt in front of our table as bait.)
By 7 p.m., I was shoving magazines into the hands of random students walking around the track field. With the help of The Burr’s photo editor, Fusion distributed all 280 magazines that were brought to the event. (That may sound like a lot, but we probably have about 2,000 more magazines stuck in the office that we have no idea what to do with yet.)
I just hope people read the magazine before they dismiss theirs into a recycling bin.
Simon Husted is the editor-in-chief of Fusion. E-mail him at [email protected].