It's not every day a magazine turns 15. Sure, that’s not legal drinking age—or sexing age, for that matter—but it’s still a big one seeing as magazines are going the way of the abacus these days... And though we never really need a reason to pop open a bottle of bubbly, a birthday is as good a reason as any, don’t you think? (Well, that is birthdays under 40, of course.)
Inspired by many of you, our fierce and loyal Instinct readers, who have written, e-mailed and posted your favorite Instinct stories, memories or cover guys in advance of this milestone, we decided to take a little stroll down memory lane. We reached out to Instinct’s EICs past and present to get their take on the creation and continuation of Instinct over the years. At press time, Parker Ray (Editor in Chief, 2000-August 2005) hadn’t turned his thoughts in yet…but founding Editor in Chief Gabriel Goldberg and current Editor in Chief Mike Wood took some time to reflect on their tenures to see just how far 15 years has brought Instinct and what helming this big, gay ship has meant to them. We’re also reliving some of the naughtiest, sassiest, most ridiculous headlines and cover lines ever printed within our pages (one for each year, 1997-2012). So sit back, pour yourself a cocktail or three and think back to 1997 with us—a time when Ellen was just coming out, Madonna had just played Evita and the world had yet to meet Will or Grace.
When I first started at Instinct, I had no idea what I was doing. But, since I landed the interview, I was bold enough to tell the publisher that I was confident I could bring the magazine into its next stage. “We have to grow up a little bit,” my soon-to-be boss (and now friend) JR would tell me. “Hell, so do I,” I said. “So, why not do it together?” Somehow I was convincing enough, because here I am more than seven years later recounting those days when the little-magazine-that-could had built itself a substantial audience of nearly 100,000 subscribers and was ready to transform itself further to its present-day form—all while keeping as its cornerstone its sense of humor that was its trademark from day one in 1997.
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The market for magazines has changed, and with that, the medium and the technology of how we consume our news and information has changed as well. The evolution at Instinct has been constant and ongoing, and I couldn’t have done any of it without the great editors, writers, art directors, designers and photographers who have been a part of the Instinct family during my seven-plus-year tenure. And I certainly could not have done any of it without our amazing readership. You guys truly are the heart and soul of Instinct, and you’re what keeps Team Instinct coming to work every day to do what we do best: tell your stories with a combination of class (our Leading Men issues) and neverending sass (practically everything we write).
Since the beginning, we’re the only gay magazine to always feature openly gay men on our covers, and we’re distinctly proud of that. Our team has helped land and secure gay press cover exclusives with artists like Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Mika and Gwen Stefani. I even put my life on the line (okay, not literally) and went head-to-head with Janice Dickinson on reality TV to get J.P Calderon on our cover and tell his coming out story to the world (it went on to be one of our best-selling issues ever). We’ve traveled the world to let you know about the best gay travel destinations; we’ve redesigned our website three times (to date) and arranged countless photo shoots where we’ve had some of the hottest models in the greatest clothes or hardly any clothes at all (hey, we are Instinct, after all), just to keep you guys coming back for more.
Even as the LGBT community becomes more enmeshed in mainstream media and culture, it remains our mission to bring you the best of what there is to offer in the world of gay news and entertainment. And we hope you’ll continue the journey with us.
Mike Wood, Editor in Chief AUGUST 2005 - PRESENT
Read more about our 15th Anniversary in the new November issue of Instinct, out now!