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Once I Was A Twink Who Wanted To Be A Writer

xy 101

One of the first magazines that ever published my work was xy. Yes, that glossy gay youth publication that everyone read but no one admitted to reading. For me, xywas, quite literally, a lifesaver. In my childhood bedroom, I would stay up late into the night, poring over the words of other young gay boys and finding hope and solace in their coming out stories. I would forever be altered and moved by the simple plea of one story, whose writer (like me) worked at Structure, and wondered, “Why should I be hated for loving?” In that one question was all the angst and hidden hurt that had been coursing underneath everything I had done up to that point.

Yes, there were also cute twinks who doffed shirts and pants – but xy never went too porny – I don’t even think they showed butt, and certainly nothing fully-frontal. It was the simple fact that gay youth were living out their lives openly and proudly that shook everyone up so much at the time, particularly the gay community, which was always more up-in-arms over the publication than anyone else.

Personally, I will always have a soft spot for that magazine. In 1999 I flew out to San Francisco to meet with its founder Peter Ian Cummings and one of his editors, Mike Glatze, and discuss possible writing opportunities. I was living in Chicago at the time, and only starting to get published in the local gay rags. Even though I had graduated from Brandeis with a degree in English, I didn’t truly feel like a writer yet, and hesitated to call myself such.

After the plane touched down in California, Peter and Mike met me at the airport and drove me into the Castro. We shared a lunch and some fun conversation, then Peter walked me back to my hotel. Along the way his phone rang, and after a brief exchange he told the person that he couldn’t talk at the moment because he was meeting with a writer. I almost had to look around to see who he was talking about, and when I realized it was me I could not stop a smile from stealing over my face. Suddenly, there it was. He had named me, and though I had written for my entire life, it took the creator of a national magazine to make it real. For that, I will always be grateful.

I did not end up working for xy, though they did publish a few of my pieces. I think at the time I said that they were the most unorganized group of guys I had ever met – and it was true – but their love and passion for making the world better for gay youth was admirable and honest, and I was just glad to be a small part of it.

Now I see the magazine is making an online comeback effort. I wish them the best, because no matter what you want to say about it, and no matter how silly and salacious it may appear to some of us, there is still very much a need for it. Somewhere there is a boy hiding in his bedroom, searching for some small way out, some small chance to connect and believe in something better, some small bit of hope. Sometimes the one thing that stands between that boy hanging himself and waiting out one more night is a magazine that puts a picture of two kissing boys on its cover.

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