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According to the publishers website, MPG's (Millivres Prowler Group Ltd.) 'Gay Times' has reached its current format via a series of business mergers and publishing shake-ups stretching way back to 1974, when Millivres Ltd. (a well-established LGBT business) was launched during the same year as the UK's first openly gay adult magazine, 'HIM'. Millivres bought HIM, together with a gay news title during my birth year in 1983, and during the following year in '84, the two titles were re-launched under their new combined format, The Gay Times. The Prowler Press which puts the 'P' into the other half of today's owner, MPG did not set up shop until 1989 with the 'Euroboy' title that is also still in circulation today. 'Diva' the lesbian equivalent, and sister magazine to Gay Times was rolled out in 1994 and the pair celebrated their 20th and 10th anniversaries in 2004, respectively. The latest addition to the MPG collection is 'AXM' magazine, which was acquired in April of this year and is now being marketed more clearly towards a younger audience alongside (presumably) MPG's growing online portal for young gay and bi men, 'Puffta'.
History aside and the Gay Times' (from this point onwards, referred to as 'GT') average monthly circulation of 55,000 demonstrates that the magazine remains considerably popular with its gay and bisexual male readers. It is the UK's largest gay and bi title, not to mention the world's biggest monthly 'gay read' at over 240 pages cover-to-cover. I have been a big follower of the magazine since my early teens when I was attracted to the GT's big-name interviews, sexy portraits and agony aunt columns, which in turn provided some much needed education and advice for a boy stuck in a "dodgy" part of the northeast! Now, I rely on the title for my work as much as anything else. Sure, I buy the title religiously for the 'Totally Gay Pet Shop' cartoon strips alone (funny as hell I think - See, www.mrgisby.com) and also the star interviews, pride coverage, music, travel, gay venue and film reviews (GT also covers the arts, literature, Internet, consumer/health/emotional advice and contains a substantial collection of personal advertisements, and business/organisational directory etc.) but it is the quality of GT's 'upfront', news/affairs and feature articles that keep me reaching for the top shelf of WHSmith.
Some of the most recent and notable articles include "Trouble in Shangri-La" that outlined the violent struggles in Nepal and the effects on the underground LGBT community, "Russian Revolution", an article that discussed the police/state clashes at Moscow's gay pride, and "Gender Blending" a short piece that uncovered Hollywood's troubled history with cross-dressing. All of these articles feature alongside the big names and interviews, which have recently included the likes of the Pet Shop Boys, and the Scissor Sisters (latest issue #336 - September 2006). Any title that mixes and matches like this, keeps me entertained and informed on the social and political climate effecting LGBT individuals across the world is going to be attractive to me, not only because that's my field of work/study, but also because I think it is important when there is so much dross out there that pigeon-holes gay men and lesbians (in particular) as sponge-headed, high spenders...
...Sure GT has its airline, luxury apartment, sex chatline and 'Aussiebum' underwear adverts, that's what keep the magazine afloat, but I guess you could say that GT is the old, wise and political 'lefty' of the mainstream gay titles "out-of-the-closet" at this point in time. GT is a fantastic title for those that like a good, mixed-read, monthly, and hey, if you don't like it your first copy may sell for a tenner in a few years time on Ebay!
GT is available quite widely (newsagents, WHSmiths, Spar etc.) and is currently priced at £3.25. You can buy/subscribe at www.gaytimes.co.uk.
Sexy hypnotist Derren Brown talks exclusively to GT about coming out - marriage - and his ... more
new show. James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz tellu s all about Oz: The Great and Powerful, Disney's prequel to perennial gay fave The Wizard of Oz. And James Franco tells us exactly why he's so drawn to playing gay roles... Shifting gears we look back at a pivotal moment in the UK's gay rights movement - when Peter Tatchell's ran for election as an MP in 1983. Digging further back into our past we uncover the fascinating history of gay soldiers in World War 2. We also ask why the Boy Scouts of America is only now considering admitting gay members. Also in this issue: The incomparable Boy George. The legend that is Petula Clark. We swap Hot Gossip with ex-Strictly judge Arlene Phillips. Cesar Milan: dog-whisperer and close personal friend of Kathy Griffin. Electro chanteuse Sky Ferreira. Leslie Jordan aka Karen Walker's arch-enemy Beverley Leslie, drops by for a gossip. And this month's "Letter from..." comes from Turkey