For 500 issues, Gay Times Magazine has been at the forefront of amplifying the voices and experiences of LGBTQ people in their march towards true equality. In 1984, the GAY TIMES brand first appeared on the cover alongside our parent title HIM. It marked the start of a shift in queer storytelling and reporting, proudly and unapologetically printing the word ‘GAY’ on the masthead every issue. Over hundreds and hundreds of covers, Gay Times Magazine has chronicled the tragic lows and historic highs of the queer experience during the past 35 years.
Flicking through our archive highlights not only the journey the LGBTQ community has been on over the past four decades, but how we as Europe’s longest-running queer publication have evolved.
In celebration of this milestone in our history, we asked queer artist Jorge Garcia Redondo to reimagine our very first cover to represent what GAY TIMES was, and continues to be: a lifeline for the LGBTQ community.
Aaron Philip doesn’t want to be known as the disabled, black, trans model. She’s a model, period. “Being trans and disabled... I don’t want to claim it because I have to claim it. I claim it because it is me, objectively,” she says. “Why should that make me an entirely different entity of model, when I’m just Aaron Philip?”
Earlier this year, the 18-year-old made her runway debut at Willie Norris’ fashion show with the words ‘Queer Capital’ on the back of her wheelchair; since then, she’s landed her own campaign with Sephora and has a genuine fan in - and we’re going to capitalise this - NAOMI CAMPBELL. She’s also become a beacon of light for those in minority communities who want to follow in her footsteps and ‘feel their fish’. “I love the fact that people who are just like me can relate to me and feel represented,” she continues. “That’s what I want, I want people to look at me and feel like they have someone who is advocating for them.”
We asked Aaron’s close friend, actress and singer-songwriter Amandla Stenberg to interview the star about representing the black, trans and disabled communities, and how the fashion industry is slowly catching up with diverse representation.
Blair Imani lives at the intersection of a multitude of identities. She’s Black, bisexual and a Muslim. She’s a historian, an activist and an author. Her book Modern HERstory, much like her own activism, celebrates women and non-binary champions of progressive social change; she’s been a prominent voice in the Black Lives Matter movement; and regularly uses her online presence to call for change on the social justice issues that matter.
But for Blair, she doesn’t want people to see her as the ‘token representative’ for her respective communities. “I think what happens as people of colour, as oppressed people, when you do something that’s outside of the narrative of what you’re ‘supposed’ to do, all of a sudden you’re a spokesperson for that community, and I think that’s particularly true for Islam,” she says. “It’s always interesting how people have this monolith idea of what Islam is and what Muslims are. And that also has to do with queerness, as a bisexual woman people are often like, ‘Okay then, prove it.’ It’s so exhausting.”
For our 500th issue, Blair speaks to singer-songwriter and close friend Leo Kalyan about their shared experiences as queer Muslims, and her journey to becoming the activist she is today.
Breaking out of the mould, actor and activist Chella Man is a much-needed new voice for the trans experience that’s finding him mixing with the big players, including his historic appearance in DC Universe’s Titans. But perhaps what’s more important, they’re visible and can be seen by others similar to their lived experience – and it’s a responsibility that’s of vital importance to Chella Man.
Explaining that it was a complete lack of visibility and internalised oppression that prevented their own personal progression during their younger years. “My identity is simply the terminology I have access to, describing my personal experiences, how I wish to present, and the communities I align with. Discovering this language has opened the doors to an entire community.
Explaining that their identity that the queer community, and the internsections of it, granted him the voice to speak out today in the hope of being there for others. “Discovering your personal terminology is to uncover the history of your own community and its people who have come before you. These words allow us to cement a little bit of life in a few letters. Language is always created with reason.”
For our 500th issue, Chella Man speaks to friend, activist and Pose star Indya Moore about why we need to have greater conversations around queer mental health, the beauty and power of the intersections of his identities, and how we can all be better allies and support trans people as their battle for true equality continues.
Extraness packed with charisma, charm and plenty of star power is at the core of Rickey Thompson’s stratospheric level of internet fame. It was back in school that Rickey first got his big break, when one of his short-form videos on the now defunct platform Vine was shared by none other than Kylie Jenner. As one would expect, the exposure took his social media presence to the next level. But Rickey was never going to be just a flash in the vlogging pan.
It would be easy to write off his quick-witted videos as nothing more than bursts of throwaway LOLs, but what he represents strikes so much deeper than that. It’s not lost on Rickey that there is incredibly little representation for openly gay black comedians in the mainstream, and he is eager to pave the way in that regard. “I really want the world to see that no matter who you are or who you love you can still be successful,” he says. “I feel like more people need to see that and I’m so happy I can show them.”
For our 500th issue, we speak to the funny, fashionable and ferocious internet superstar that’s going from influencer to influential.