View the Our Lives web site at this link (will open in a separate browser window).
The first issue of Our Lives appeared dated July/August 2007 printed on glossy magazine stock and in convenient pocket size- but by the second issue had already expanded to the larger, traditional news-magazine size. The magazine is Madison-based and focuses almost exclusively on the Dane County LGBT enclave, unlike most other LGBT periodicals which at least made an attempt to be more state-wide in coverage. As a result, the magazine was initially seldom found outside of Madison. (But then, that initial limited focus and distribution may be a formula for success, as every start-up periodical has trouble being financially viable.)
The Mission Statement, as published in an early issue, reads:
Our mission is to clearly, candidly and openly reflect the diversity and optimism in our community. We are dedicated to improving our readers’ quality of life by celebrating the people, establishments and events that encourage us to embrace our identities as individuals and as an LGBTQA community.
Our goal is to deliver each story, identity and person regardless of notoriety or lack thereof. We aim to demonstrate how we overcome obstacles on a day-to-day basis. The progress our community has made is undeniable and the applause deserved is what we intend to provide.
By late 2009 and early 2010, the magazine began to become more readily available in other areas of the state, featuring more broad ranging articles, news, and activity calendars- although still primarily Madison and Dane County focused.
Wider state-wide distribution and coverage became increasingly important after the only other two LGBT publications printed in Wisconsin, 'Wisconsin Gazette' and 'Quest', both ceased publishing in 2018. Still, the publication continued to focus primarily on Dane County and the Madison area-- leaving Wisconsin without a true state-wide LGBT publication.
This was a serious shortcoming for both the current LGBT community and for future researchers. No longer was there a vehicle for new bars or other LGBT businesses to announce their openings or events. While existing bars maintained some presence on social media (primarily Facebook), this served only their 'friended' clientele; newcomers to the LGBT scene (either coming out or relocating) had no state-wide listing of LGBT businesses to refer to. (And of course internet sites and social media are fleeting; they are not historically available for research of a particular period in time.)
Then the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020 appeared. With many businesses closed or restricted in capacity, and people avoiding going out or traveling, advertising revenues dropped severely, and the publication was forced to lay off staff. This might have been the end of Wisconsin's last LGBT publication. However it continued to publish every other month, and began early in 2021 its first tentative steps to expand to state-wide coverage and distribution. We hope for its continued existence.
An article was written in mid-2022 by long-time contributor Michail Takach which examines the magazine's first 15 years; the publisher's motivation to start the magazine, its growth, and the small but loyal staff that had aided in its journey thus far. That article can be read here.
Credits: covers reprinted by permission of the publisher;
Web site concept and design by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: May-2021.
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