One Pittsburgh-based online magazine is celebrating it's first birthday this month. QueerPGH volunteers and contributors say they hope to create a hub of content by and for the queer community in Pittsburgh.
90.5 WESA’s Virginia Alvino Young spoke with Samone Riddle, the magazine's founder.
Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
VIRGINIA ALVINO YOUNG: Why did you want to start an online magazine?
SAMONE RIDDLE: I learned a while back from Pittsburgh-based multimedia artist Vanessa German that if you want to make any sort of change in your community, and do anything important for your community, what you have to do is use your skill set. My skill set is in graphic design, communications and websites, so it seemed pretty natural that if I wanted to work for the queer community here in Pittsburgh, it was going to have to be through media. About a year ago, I started Queer Pittsburgh -- it had been a year since Equal Magazine stopped existing, and Equal Magazine covered a good bit of the queer community. It came out of the Delta Foundation, so it was focusing on a lot of the stuff they were doing, and after a year of them not existing, I think the gap just was more and more pronounced.
ALVINO YOUNG: What type of content was needed? Was it news, personal essay, opinion pieces that people were looking for that didn’t exist in the city?
RIDDLE: I think what was missing was queer voices in general -- queer representation that was accurate and honest and from queer perspectives. So when you see queer representation in media, it’s either Pride Week, or something bad has happened, right? Someone was hurt, someone was killed or we’re fighting for our rights again in schools. A lot of the stories that were missing were the stories that were in between there. What are we doing in the mean time? So I wanted to cover all the projects people are working on, all the events that people were working on and developing and the experiences that people are having.
ALVINO YOUNG: A variety of contributors have worked with you on this online publication -- there are a lot of diverse voices in the city. Has it been challenging finding them and getting them to work on the project? What has the experience been like trying to aggregate all these different voices?
RIDDLE: Oh my gosh, it’s been incredible. So in our very first meeting, I put out a general call for queer artists and writers and photographers and I think I even put general queer enthusiasts, and we got about 50 people to show up. And I just talked to them about what do you want to see in media, what do you want covered, what do you want to share with the rest of the community? And a lot of people stuck around from there. From that initial meeting, we have a base of about 70 contributors who have at some point said, "Hey, I want to write something, I want to know more, I want to participate at some point." And about 25 of those have actually created photography or written something. We then built a leadership team that does the social media, that does editing, that runs our calendar.
ALVINO YOUNG: Where do you hope the publication goes from here?
RIDDLE: Right now we’re covering a lot of news, a lot of events, and from here, we want to expand into a creative writing section. I’d like to expand and work with more youth so they can have queer youth media as a part of Queer Pittsburgh. I just want to keep growing from here, and I want to keep having events.
ALVINO YOUNG: One part of the mission of the publication is to have content that’s by and for the LGBTQIA+ community. What can the non-queer community gain from checking out this work?
RIDDLE: Having positive, queer representation in the media is good for everyone. For folks outside of the community, you’re going to get a better understanding of the culture and community by reading and seeing artwork created by them.