The first issue of Queer Life (also known as Q-Life) appeared on Dec. 15, 2004. Queer Life was founded to give Milwaukee and Wisconsin a true newspaper for the first time in several years, since the demise of both In Step and Wisconsin Light. Coincidentally, it was started up in the same month that another Milwaukee-based newspaper, Outbound News, also began publishing.
While Outbound News ceased publishing after just a year, Queer Life (now commonly referred to as Q-Life) continued to go strong; by its first anniversary, it was being well received by the community and served an important niche.
As with most magazines and newspapers, this paper also struggled to survive. Its first major crisis was in August 2006, when Don Hoffman, the Editor and one of the owners of the paper, abruptly resigned. Co-owners Nancy Meeks and Carole Wehner were left with a paper without direction and in serious financial shape. The community rallied however, and although no September issue was printed, within a few weeks the paper had been transferred to new owners, and Kate Sherry took over as Managing Editor.
The paper had a very positive impact on the community. As well as being widely available in LGBT bars and businesses in SE Wisconsin, it was widely available to the entire community as a free pick-up paper at retail stores (such as pharmacies and grocery stores, like Pick 'n Save). Its first page frequently featured a local organization or business that was observing an anniversary or making a major community impact. These included the Queer Program, Cream City Foundation, Diverse & Resilient, the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center,and This Is It bar.
Meanwhile, the paper struggled to stay on its feet. The number of pages in each monthly issue was as many as 60 or 56 pages in volume 1, then settled at around 48 to 40 pages per issue for volume 2; that was then reduced to an average of around 28 pages per issue in volume 3. Most issues in volume 4 came in at just 24 pages per issue to try to keep its costs better aligned with revenues.
Unfortunately, it couldn't last. Printing costs, and lack of payments coming in from advertisers (not to mention the difficulty of getting the ad in the first place) had taken their toll. Like most LGBT publications in Wisconsin, they were working on a shoestring budget - going without - working around - and recruiting friends to help out. After sacrificed paychecks, and long hours, the staff were running out of steam, and despite last-ditch efforts to reduce costs by changing printers, the owners of Q-Life decided to stop publishing with the December, 2008 issue.
Credits: concept and design by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: September-2021.
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