Today I received an email from associate publisher and ad manager Greg Inzunza at Clout Magazine, a freebee glossy LGBT lifestyle mag that the publishers of the Long Beach Press-Telegram started a about a year ago. The whole idea of Clout was a magazine that built its ad base around non-sexual advertising and focused on travel, local Southern California personalities, home design and shopping–I wrote a pretty long piece for the first issue on the Long Beach Grunions, an LGBT swim team. That kind of ad strategy is not an easy world to live in, especially in the gay market, but it is possible (think the NYC-based MetroSource, another mag I occasionally contribute to).
Well, today the hammer fell. Here ‘s what Inzunza said in his email:
In each issue we presented homes where couples lived and loved. We can proudly say that our advertising revenue doubled when the State Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in May this year. However, when Proposition 8 passed in the November 4 election, we saw revenue basically drop dramatically.
Look, there’s plenty wrong with the economic fundamentals of the publishing business–just ask The Tribune Company, The New York Times Co. and even Clout’s parent company LANG–so maybe Prop 8 is a convenient excuse to hide behind instead of saying the Clout model was never viable, particularly in a depressed ad market. But research has been done (here, for instance) showing same-sex marriage boosts the economy, so taking it away could have an opposite effect.
Inzunza sure thinks so. I talked to Greg tonight about the numbers, and he said he could pinpoint down to the day the California Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage by looking at his sales charts. Businesses that had never thought of advertising in gay pubs were suddenly interested, so much so that LANG incorporated same-sex wedding advertiser guides in all its publications, he explained.
After the ballot initiative campaign started, that impacted ad sales to the tune of $15,000. And once Prop 8 passed, that was it. “It basically felt like they were trying to stay away from us,” he said. “With no legal tie-in, why should they promote it?”
To the most cynical supporters of Prop 8, this is a win-win. Marriage’s big threat to the anti-gay voices behind Yes 0n 8 was its ability to legitimize and visualize healthy, rather ordinary same-sex couples. Killing LGBT publications is another step in making people feel invisible.