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This site contains the entire 105 issues of OutWeek Magazine, published in New York from June, 1989 to July, 1991.
OutWeek Magazine was the seminal lesbian and gay publication during the peak era of AIDS activism in the late 80s and early 90s.
Founded by Gabriel Rotello and Kendall Morrison, it employed a staff of about 30 people in Manhattan during its tumultuous two-year existence.
OutWeek redefined the role of the activist gay press, not only by reporting the news but also by frequently making news itself. Its aggressive coverage, incisive commentary and in-depth investigative articles on gay rights, politics, AIDS, the arts and popular culture made it a must-read publication far beyond the usual scope of gay magazines.
Several of the most contentious controversies of that era were sparked by OutWeek. The magazine pioneered the use of the word ‘queer,’ which was highly controversial at the time. It was closely associated with the AIDS activist group ACT UP, and several of its staffers and contributors helped to co-found the group Queer Nation.
Many of OutWeek’s editors were committed to sharply challenging the then-pervasive culture of the closet, and a sideline of that commitment - the advocacy of ‘outing’ prominent gay and lesbian celebrities – began in Michelangelo Signorile’s “Gossip Watch” column and was one of many things that made OutWeek a household name and a lightning rod.
OutWeek was committed to an inclusive vision of queer life, and was the first major national publication to bill itself as a ‘lesbian and gay’ magazine.
For many of its staff members and writers, working at Outweek was their first job in journalism. Yet many went on to become among the most prominent figures in gay journalism, activism, writing and publishing. Just a partial list of writers, editors and contributors includes:
Gabriel Rotello became the first openly gay columnist for a major newspaper (NY Newsday), authored the best selling book 'Sexual Ecology,' and is now a TV documentary producer/director for HBO, Bravo and other networks.
Arts editor Sarah Pettit became the editor-in-chief of Out Magazine and the arts editor of Newsweek, before her death from cancer in 2003.
Staffer Walter Armstrong became the editor-in-chief of Poz Magazine.
Staffers Dale Peck, Karl Soehnlein and Jim Provenzano all became well-known novelists.
Columnist Michael Goff founded Out Magazine, became general manager of Microsoft's MSN, and is now Andy Towle's partner in the website Towleroad.
Staffer Victoria Starr became an author and the biographer of kd lang.
Reporter David Kirby became a NY Times reporter and author of a best-selling expose on the alleged relationship between mercury and autism, 'Evidence of Harm.'
Columnist James St. James wrote the memoir 'Disco Bloodbath,' later made into a 1998 documentary and a 2003 feature film starring Macauley Culkin, both called 'Party Monster'.
Advertising executive Troy Masters founded the New York weekly Gay City News and became its publisher.
Columnist Maria Maggenti is a highly regarded independent film director (The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love; Puccini for Beginners).
OutWeek also had the best collection of lesbian and gay cartoonists ever assembled, and it featured fascinating and quirky columns on queer life by brilliant writers including Bradley Ball, Susie Day, and James St. James.
Since OutWeek was an activist publication filled with young staffers struggling through a horrendous plague, life at the magazine was always lively and frequently contentious. The battles and disputes it sparked were often played out within its own offices. Unfortunately, infighting among its staff and investors led to its demise after only two years, despite healthy income and circulation that exceeded all gay publications except The Advocate.
The world of AIDS and LGBT advocacy suffered from OutWeek’s passing, and within only a few years the fervent activism it represented was a thing of the past. Yet despite its brief existence, it had transformed the landscape of gay publications and vastly expanded the scope of gay and AIDS awareness. Many members of the mainstream press have credited OutWeek with sparking a major expansion of gay and AIDS coverage in the mass media and forcing such issues into the mainstream.
When OutWeek closed, The New York Times observed that it had earned national fame as “the most progressive of the gay publications” and said the magazine “gave voice to a new generation of AIDS activists who had not previously had a public voice and provided a rallying point for the more militant members of the gay community."
Time Magazine said that Outweek “earned recognition for its reporting on AIDS, homophobic assaults and gay politics, but its greatest success was in shaking up its competitors by challenging their brand of gay activism with a more militant stance."
Years after its closure it was named one of the "ten most influential 20th century gay publications" by the website Gay Today.
Unfortunately, and largely because of Outweek’s controversial stances, very few libraries collected it. As a result, it has been largely unavailable to scholars and researchers working on this key era in LGBT history, even though its historical importance is now widely recognized.
To remedy that, we now make the entire scope of this seminal publication available in digital form to anyone who wishes to access it.
HOW TO ACCESS THE ARCHIVE
The archive is digitized in a high-resolution pdf format suitable for printing.
To access it, simply select and click on a magazine cover. You may either view the issue online or download it to your computer or library. (Since each magazine ranges from 15 to 20mb in size, it may take a few seconds before the issue opens up on some computers.)
Rather than being indexed, the archive is fully searchable. To search a specific issue, simply enter a word or a name in the ‘find’ window that appears when you open an issue, and all instances of that word or name will appear in a drop-down list. Then click on any part of that list, and the appropriate page will open, with the word highlighted. To search the entire collection, enter a word or name in the ‘search’ window on the main page.
It was also made possible with the kind assistance of:
The site was created by Sarah Weiss.
Outweek Magazine is copyrighted material. The joint tenant copyright holders are Kendall Queer Morrison and Gabriel Rotello. All rights reserved. Permission is granted in advance to scholars, journalists, authors and students to quote from it, provided the quotes are credited to OutWeek Magazine and to the appropriate writer. Libraries may download it and make it available to their patrons. Otherwise, no portion of the contents of Outweek Magazine may be reproduced for commercial purposes or displayed on any page that contains additional paid advertising or affiliate marketing materials (except search engines with links directly to this site or an authorized source) without the prior written permission of both joint tenant copyright holders.
For questions or queries, contact Gabriel Rotello at