Oh my, do I ever have to quote the cliché, “time flies.”
It is hard for me to believe seventeen years have passed since I began the Vital VOICE, following the shuttering of the Gay News-Telegraph. Over that period, the LGBT community has experienced progress many people thought they would never see in their lifetime, such as marriage equality.
I believe the Vital VOICE played a role in the progress of our St. Louis community. It brought a respected level of visibility intent on educating and demystifying. As a newspaper, the Vital VOICE raised the standard of St. Louis LGBT journalism. In 2004, we garnered exclusive interviews with all nine democratic presidential candidates. This was very exciting as no other publication had done this and our demographic was more focused on hard news.
I think it is fair to say we have witnessed tremendous change over these past seventeen years. We have evolved from a community that used to hide in the shadows to living our lives out and open both locally and nationally.
In my opinion, evolving is what keeps everything relevant. I spent almost a decade producing a newspaper that was a lifeline for some, even though I was not a trained journalist. I knew that I wanted to find someone to keep it growing, so when I met Darin Slyman, I knew that he was the person I wanted to take over the continued evolution of the paper. In 2009, Darin began the reinvention of the newspaper into a lifestyle magazine. After taking the time to plan this change, the reimagined Vital VOICE Magazine debuted in January 2010. It featured beautiful glossy covers with entertainment and lifestyle content relevant to the LGBT community.
Progress can be difficult. Darin was dealt his fair share of criticism in changing the focus of the VOICE. The people who were most vocal about the change were readers rooted in the past and committed to hard news. However, the new magazine was eagerly received by a whole new generation of readers. This allowed the newspaper to evolve into a polished magazine, opening new advertising markets.
I couldn’t be prouder of the job Darin has done taking the Vital VOICE to the next level over the past nine years. It has continued to showcase all the great and talented people within the LGBT community and beyond and all the wonderful work they do. Across St. Louis, the magazine has continued to be recognized not just as a lifestyle magazine but also as a publication that is widely accepted and admired by other publications in the city.
So, where do we go from here? Change is hard for people to accept. No other community knows this better than the LGBT community. Vital VOICE was built on a foundation of progress – everything we did was intended to take us to the next level. What is the next level? That next level is a new media concept imagined by Darin and Jimmy, which will be imminently coming to life. I know these guys will continue to bring a quality product to the city of St. Louis with a commitment to progress.
Thank you, Darin. Much success my love!