When Judy Weider, then an editor at The Advocate (now Editor-In-Chief) approached me to do a series of monthly articles, I immediately said "Absolutely not!". Her request was that I become their "resident iconoclast"; my response was "Why would I want to irritate everyone when I'm currently very happy irritating just a few people?" She invited my partner Pat and I to lunch; I made the mistake of going to the bathroom, and when I'd returned to the table they'd worked out the schedules and fees. We struck an unusual deal - I would be limited to one page (@ 900 words), but beyond that there would be no editorial interference. I have since learned that this is remarkably rare in the magazine publishing world, and am eternally grateful to Judy for the opportunity to learn the craft of article-writing without any strictures on content.
I scribbled thoughts about each article down on scrap paper, then wrote a first draft into the computer; that draft was then edited down by me to fit the framework of the Advocate page I'd been given. Judy walked me through the first two months of terror and incompetence, then pretty much left me to my own devices. Some of the articles were quite controversial & generated a lot of angry mail ("Dressed To Chill" and "Black Like You"), while many were simply funny looks at being a gay person in the '90's ("At the Gym"). As in my songwriting, I tried to hit a universal with each, so anyone could enjoy them. These five articles are the heavily annotated & corrected first drafts of the most popular articles I wrote.
The "Mr. Lesbian" who closes out each article is my partner Pat. It stemmed from my doing the Howard Stern New Year's Eve show; a smirking gentleman walked up to us and said to Pat "I guess I should call you MISTER Ian." While Pat lunged for his throat I held her back and suggested he refer to her as Mr. Lesbian, if he referred to her at all. In my first Advocate article I quoted Pat in the guise of Mr. L. to end the page. The then-editor-in-chief liked it so much that we decided to keep it for every article in future.
141. ADVOCATE DRAFT - "DRESSED TO CHILL": 2 pages, written 7/25/94, original title "Lesbian Chic: A Contradiction In Terms". With copy of The Advocate magazine featuring this article. I thought I'd lose my head over this; it came out the week Pat & I were vacationing in Provincetown, Massachusetts. While I'd intended the whole thing to be tongue-in-cheek funny, many women were not amused.
142. ADVOCATE DRAFT - "AT THE GYM": 2 pages, written 4/23/96, original title "The Beached Whales". With copy of The Advocate magazine featuring this article. Pat & I are not skinny women, and this article detailed my efforts to fit into the local Provincetown gym, a blob among the muscles.
143. ADVOCATE DRAFT - "IN PRAISE OF OLDER WOMEN": 2 pages, written 11/05/96. With copy of The Advocate magazine featuring this artlicle. Once a year, for the year-end issue, my partner would figuratively "take over" the column and skewer The Advocate. This became a fun way of reassuring readers that I was, indeed, autonomous and uncensored; it also let them hear their complaints voiced by Mr. Lesbian, who'd become a father-figure (mother-figure?) to many of them. Eventually it became a real family tradition of ours. When I wrote this article I wanted to point out the dearth of older people in the magazine, and highlight the unfortunate trend in the gay community away from its elders & toward a deification of youth. The Advocate, which for many years was the only high-gloss nationally distributed magazine dealing exclusively with gay issues, had seen a tremendous rise in similar publications over the preceding five years. The editors felt that if my article skewered only The Advocate, it would lose ground for the magazine. Additionally, they pointed out that the problem was by no means exclusive to The Advocate, which I thought was a good point. For the first time in my Advocate career, I agreed to re-write the article so it would chastise all the magazines, rather than just my own. I have never regretted the decision. This is the article as originally written.
144. ADVOCATE DRAFT - "ROAD KILL CORDON BLEU": 2 pages, written 11/29/96, original title "Texans Will Eat Anything". With copy of The Advocate magazine featuring this artlcle. After finishing "In Praise Of Older Women" and going through the editorial and personal angst of revising, all I wanted was to write something funny and non-controversial. Fortunately, Pat's family provided the grist for my mill. Raised in part in Texas, she has a fascination with the morbid that is exceeded only by her family's love of good barbecue. Her interest in road-kill and the cuisine of Texas led to this article.
145. ADVOCATE DRAFT: BLACK LIKE YOU 2 pages, written 2/3/97; original title "Where Are All the Black People Here?". With copy of The Advocate magazine featuring this article. I get really tired of racism - on both sides. I get really tired of people complaining that they're getting a tough break because they're a minority, but refusing to work on behalf of that minority. I get really tired of people complaining that minorities are taking all the good jobs and getting preferential treatment while they themselves are too lazy to work as hard. I am weary to death of seperatism, racism, and all the other "isms" we keep to shield ourselves from our responsibilities as citizens. I also get very tired of various black entertainers telling me that although they happen to be gay, "coming out" isn't feasible because the black community will turn against them. No one is safe while one of us is in danger.
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