After seven years, Philadelphia magazine has shut down its LGBTQ news section, G Philly, because “our community should be included in the larger conversation about Philadelphia and not segregated from it,” G Philly’s editor said in the online publication’s farewell post.
Ernest Owens, now former editor of the magazine’s LGBTQ news segment, said in G Philly’s final article published Dec. 19 that moving forward, Philadelphia magazine will “integrate LGBTQ coverage into its primary news and lifestyle channels.” G Philly will no longer produce new content and its archives will still remain on Philly mag’s website.
“As I began to expand our coverage, we started to see that our readership was becoming more diverse. There were more cisgendered or heterosexual people reading our content. There was an implication that the work we were doing and our coverage had an impact outside of the scope of the Gayborhood and the LGBTQ community,” Owens told PGN after G Philly’s announcement. “We don’t want the LGBTQ community to be isolated from the rest of the city and we don’t want the rest of the city isolated from the community. We’re taking out that section and putting it into the larger ecosystem of our news channels.”
Tom McGrath, Philly mag’s editor, told PGN following the annoucement that in G Philly’s absence, the magazine will still “continue to cover LGBTQ news because it’s a big part of Philadelphia. We didn’t feel the need to keep it in its own little box. LGBT news is news that everyone should be aware of.”
G Philly originally distributed as a printed magazine in 2011 before transitioning to an online platform in 2014.
Although Owens is parting ways with G Philly, he will not be departing from the magazine entirely. McGrath announced on its website Dec. 24 that Owens will be transitioning into a new role as a writer at large for the publication. He is the “first LGBTQ writer of color to serve in a senior writing position in the magazine’s history,” the statement said.
“With all newsrooms, the more diversity you have across the board, the more accurate a depiction you’ll have of that city. You can’t cover a city that’s a majority of color and not have people of color in [senior] positions. If the people who are at the table look the same and come from the same circumstances, it’s never going to be accurate,” Owens said.
Philadelphia magazine, which was first published as a quarterly in 1908, was criticized for having only one full-time black person on its staff in 2013. The publication was the subject of another race-related controversy after the release of a story in 2013 by Robert Huber entitled “Being White in Philly: Whites, race, class and the things that never get said.”
In the story, Huber argued that white Philadelphians have stopped addressing the city’s “poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods” because of a “queasiness over race.” He also reported white people’s apprehension to openly discussing race and that they were fearful of societal consequences if they addressed the fact that Philadelphia’s underclass was overwhelmingly black. Huber’s story included commentary from 10 sources, none of whom were black Philadelphians.
Through G Philly, Owens provided commentary on the Gayborhood’s history of discrimination and racism as well as the racial issues within the LGBTQ community. He was the only person of color to serve as the editor of the publication.
“We’re always looking to make progress in diversifying who’s on our staff. I’m happy to give [Owens] an expanded role on writing about issues beyond what he’s been covering so far,” McGrath said to PGN.
Owens said “writing about racism within the LGBTQ community helped change how our community talks about the issue. It wasn’t something that was frequently covered and after seeing that impact, I want to take the work that I’ve done in that G Philly role and bring it to Philadelphia as a whole.”