By  on June 20, 2007

"Is Mika gay/Post-gay/Not gay?"

That cover line for Out magazine's July issue, referencing the Lebanese-born, British pop star, embodies the evolving sensibility of the title since its redesign, which bowed with November's edition. A sensibility, said editor in chief Aaron Hicklin, that is taking a broader point of view, reflecting a more sophisticated expression of sexuality and flashing a higher fashion profile.

"Mika makes very strong suggestions in his lyrics and comments that he's gay and we raise the question as to whether Mika is gay in the story," Hicklin related. The pop star's mode of expression is one Out's editor described as "prevalent among the younger generation — you can label me however you want; I won't label myself."

"Gay identity and culture are evolving, and we need to evolve with it," Hicklin added.

Instead of catering mostly to readers of niche gay titles, Out has been widening its lens to take in topics thought to be of interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender readers of mainstream magazines. Part of the effort is being manifested in Out's attempt to create a stronger fashion presence and in the launch of two blogs. A fashion blog, Stylelist, at blogs.out.com/style, went live online in April, and around six months ago, Popnography.com, a pop culture blog, made its debut.

"I felt we shouldn't be ghetto-izing ourselves with LGBT magazine readers and should appeal more to readers of magazines like GQ and Details," hence the gay-or-not cover line, for instance, a signature Details feature that at times has gotten the magazine into hot water. "One of the questions LGBT publications must deal with is what does being gay mean these days? Younger people don't identify themselves being gay as first and foremost who they are. It's a part of it," he continued. "So the magazine oughtn't be so strident in a gay voice and [ought to] express a broader palette of stories."

While the Mika story perhaps best exemplifies Out's changing sensibility, the editor in chief also cited a piece in the April issue about "Ugly Betty" and a July feature, "Celebrating the Great Gay Resort," as emblematic. The article about the ABC TV show offered a gay perspective on the mainstream world, for example, and the feature about gay resorts, whose base of visitors is aging, examined what the magazine sees as the diminishing role of such locales and the related issue of how gay men and lesbians define themselves today.

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