Lavender Media has held its own as a successful business for 20 years since the first magazine issue came out on June 9, 1995. Before that, numerous GLBT publications, both privately capitalized and nonprofit, had come and gone but were unable to sustain themselves long-term because of lack of funding.
It’s easy to look at Lavender‘s classy appearance and its widespread popularity in these days after the marriage equality victory and think that it was all roses. However, when Lavender came into being there was much more discrimination. The hysteria surrounding AIDS was not what it had been the decade before but its stigma still lingered as a scarlet letter for gay men, even if they weren’t infected. There was an anti-obscenity campaign projected onto gay-created publicly funded art by right-wing politicians. This was also a sign of an increased intensity by fundamentalist religious organizations including media outlets, national and statewide. Many businesses would simply not advertise in a GLBT-identified magazine.
This meant that Lavender actually undervalued its product and therefore cut advertising prices dramatically. This was despite the fact that owner Stephen Rocheford had financial demands to meet such as rent, insurance, employees, writers, and taxes. In the face of all this, Lavender kept afloat, and remains sustainable unlike the previous defunct community publications.
The impression this success may give to some is that Lavender must have had to have been restrained in what it could give back to the community. But a recent computer analysis of the amount of donations actually contributed comes to a remarkable 20-year total of $5,157,656.48 with an average donation amount per year of $257,882.82.
Lavender has given $3,472,264.52 in advertising discounts since its inception. For its Community Connection pages, which lists a broad range of GLBT businesses, agencies, and organizations, Lavender has given $648,375.61. Lavender‘s outreach to the community is also seen in the $514,156.58 it has given OutFront Minnesota in editorial space and $500,188.04 to other organizations in nonprofit advertising discounts over the years. The same spirit is felt in the $22,671.83 given to miscellaneous concerns including sports teams, local business organizations, and nonprofits. WIth 20 more years of Lavender, here’s to 20 more years of giving.