It was the day before my sister’s wedding in March that I decided to start a magazine about sexual diversity.
At the time, I would have put this down to coincidence. It isn’t as though I was pining for my own wedding. My girlfriend and I don’t even want to get married.
In fact, when people ask, with pity in their voices, ‘Will you wait to get married?’ I keep my head high and tell them yes, we will wait until same-sex marriage is legalised, and then we’ll have a non-wedding. Because we don’t want to get married—not in the matrimonial sense. But we also want not-getting-married to be our decision. Not the decision of the Prime Minister, or the church, or the voters.
For that reason, I await new legislation. I watch my Twitter feed with mild interest. I keep an eye on political promises that pertain to marriage equality. I chortle with the other journos when Abbott calls homosexuality the ‘fashion of the moment’ and pretend it doesn’t sting.
I search for reportage that’s important and that has credibility. And I wade through a lot of guff before I find writing that has some weight; writing that gets to the bloody point.
I would definitely waste some hours on that, I thought.
So Archer magazine began to materialise in my mind’s eye. It would date quickly—both in attitude and appearance—and symbolise a relic of the equality movement. It would be satchel-sized and beautiful; matte finish with thick stock, a posterchild for independent bookshops and MagNation. Heavy with dialogue and white space. The profile of a distinguished minority.
My favourite writers of the moment, discussing my favourite topic of always: sexuality. (Why anyone wants to talk about anything else is, frankly, beyond me.)
I guess when you’ve been an editor for 10 years and you have a brilliant idea for a magazine, you are pretty much obliged to get cracking. Otherwise, you’re being downright lazy. (It’s a bit like a musician conjuring a tune and then sitting down to the watch the football. Mere intention does not a musician make. Same goes for a journalist.)
I entered a research phase which involved speaking to the editors of a bunch of locally-produced mags and journals. They provided advice; sometimes differing, always supportive. I also contacted a few friends and a few idols, piecing together the perfect balance to represent diversity: press gallery member, Damien Bright. Emerging Writers Festival director, Sam Twyford-Moore. Political scientist, Dr Lauren Rosewarne. Indigenous human rights activist, Bryan Andy. But representing varied viewpoints on such a touchy issue can be tricky.
Writer after writer looked at me with disdain when I suggested they profile Australians against marriage equality. I struggled to convince straight writers that their opinions were just as valid as the gays in this debate. And don’t even get me started on Christos Tsiolkas. I mean, I knew his article on adult desire for youth was going to be challenging, but that first draft was a bloody minefield.
I’m doing my final edits now, and my designers are placing finishing touches on layouts and logos. We are also crowd-funding through Pozible, partially because we are committed to paying all our writers and photographers, and partially because making stuff is costly.
The voices are strong and important. The photography is current and moving. And Tsiolkas’s piece, however challenging, is a veritable work of art.
It’s warming to make a contribution to the media landscape on issues that are relevant to some, and vital to others. And it feels significant to provide perspective to those who are waiting for something, even if it’s just the right to not-get-married in peace.
Amy Middleton is the founding editor of Archer magazine—Australia’s first journal of sexual diversity. Support Archer by donating to the Pozible campaign and spreading the word.