People Magazine Makes Gay People Ordinary

 
 

AE: I noticed that People is really willing to cover gay and lesbian themed-entertainment in a very matter-of-fact way much like how individuals are covered. Like a review of Season 2 of The L Word, or a discussion of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as simply a good television show.

LH: I must tell you, and I know it probably sounds crazy, but it's not like we talk about it a lot. It's like, this is a show that's out there, it's really good. The fourth or fifth element of that conversation may be that it has gay themes.

We've had debates here about Brokeback, are people going to see it or are they not. But it's not — I don't want to say it's "unconscious," because everything one does in a magazine is decided. But it's not as if we're sitting there with beakers and tubes and coming up with a formula of how much to do. It's really more organic than that.

AE: That's pretty impressive because I don't know if people would think of the magazine that way.
LH:
Well if you could help spread the word that would be great! (laughs)

AE: In the years you've been there, since 1998, the political climate has changed. A lot. There have been increased attacks on civil liberties for gay and lesbian people. Have you seen any sort of backlash with your readership in that time, maybe a change in the letters you receive?
LH: I haven't. And I read them every Friday when we get them. I was looking at last week's letters and we did get that one about gay marriage, but no, not really. Because of the nature of the magazine, our readers are a curious, hungry, engaged group of people.

These issues are solved by you getting to know who your neighbor is. I wish that damn show had aired — what was that show again? The one they pulled off? About the people in the cul de sac, it was going to be a mixed race couple and a gay couple. I know that it was probably provocative for provocations sake, but on the other hand, I thought, the end of this might come out well. [Editor's note: the show was ABC's Welcome to the Neighborhood.]

AE: Any particular articles or topics that have been meaningful for gay readers that you've gotten a lot of kudos for addressing?
LH: I think our coverage during the Matthew Shepard time.

AE: I know that GLAAD has been a big supporter of People magazine.
LH: Yes, always.

AE: On the flip side of that, have you ever been aware of any organizations trying to boycott or target People magazine because it's been friendly to gay people?
LH: I haven't, and if there have been I guess it wasn't very effective. I haven't seen any organization or pressure group say, "Don't buy this" because of that. I would remember it if we did because I would want to engage those folks and ask "Why do you think that?"

But again, we take it as business as usual.

AE: Well that's actually more exciting to hear.
LH : I hope so.

AE: You've been working in your new capacity as Managing Editor since January 2006. What are you long or short-term goals in relation to this type of coverage.
LH: To make it an ordinary type of American life. The goal is to make the magazine as vital and compelling as it can be. [To] show how we live now and to tell compelling narrative stories that are well-written about how Americans live their lives and about what somebody goes through can be shared or learned from by somebody else.

I think that's very thrilling. And if gay and lesbians are taking part in those stories then you know they're going to be in this magazine. That's who we are and that's what we need to reflect in this country.

AE: Thanks for your time, Larry.
LH:
Thank you for all of your support.

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