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The Nose

Putting the Gay Life in OutLoud

Posted 5/28/2003

Baltimore's got a brand-new gay newspaper, Baltimore OutLoud, and crowning its masthead is a familiar name, Mike Chase, who until May 8 had been the publisher of the paper he's now competing against, Gay Life. Man-about-town Anthony McCarthy--who seems to have worked for nearly every media outlet and politician in Baltimore over the years--now sits at the helm of Gay Life. And so Baltimore's gay press re-enters a period of competition, something it hasn't seen since Baltimore Alternative ceased publication in October 2000 (Media Circus, Feb. 21, 2001). The Nose's nares quiver at the thought. So who are the players?

Chase of OutLoud and McCarthy of Gay Life are publishers by title, but the real control over each publication--the money, in other words--is in the hands of higher-ups. In Gay Life's case, it's the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (a mouthful whose acronym properly would be GLBTCCBCM, but everyone just calls it what it's always been called, GLCCB, and so shall the Nose). The center last year was on the verge of splitting with the paper (Mobtown Beat, June 5, 2002 ), but that hasn't happened; as they have for more than a quarter century, both continue to serve Mobtown's queer scene from their offices in the center of the local queer economy, Mount Vernon.

OutLoud is owned by Pride Media Inc., a newly formed business that publishes OutLoud and also offers Web design, graphics services, and event planning from its offices in Northeast Baltimore's Hamilton neighborhood. Headed by Jim Williams and two other directors, attorney James Becker (also an OutLoud contributor) and entrepreneur Alvin Mooney, Pride Media printed 5,000 copies of the first issue of OutLoud and distributed them in the Baltimore metro area and south-central Pennsylvania, Williams says. OutLoud's editor, Joe Berg, comes from Moveable Feast, which distributes meals to bedridden AIDS sufferers and was headed by Williams in the late 1990s.

"We've assembled a very talented staff," Williams crows, acknowledging that OutLoud recruited ex-Gay Lifers, only recently departed. "We are very proud and pleased that they've decided to join us," he says. As to the suggestion, made by some of the Nose's queer sources, that a cabal of disillusioned Gay Lifers orchestrated the exodus to OutLoud, Williams is strident: "Absolutely not."

Williams says he believes "this market is big enough for two papers. We've had it in the past," before the Alternative tanked, "and we'll be competitive." In particular, Williams stresses that OutLoud will be "an independent voice to the community"--a subtle way of saying that Gay Life is a muzzled mouthpiece for the GLCCB, a complaint long leveled by critics.

"This is the American way--competition--and that's what we're doing," Williams says. And he points out that OutLoud's debut "should not have come as a surprise," recalling that he was among a group that approached the GLCCB over the winter with an offer to buy Gay Life but was rejected. "I told them at that time that I was thinking of forming my own paper," Williams says.

As for McCarthy, the erstwhile radio talk show host/political consultant/newspaperman explains that he was brought on board to lead Gay Life for an undisclosed period of time, in order "to see some changes take place" at the paper. In particular, McCarthy says he's charged with putting in place "systems and processes" that will enable Gay Life to continue publishing in good times and bad--even when it's in the "very difficult position of having to put together the paper with the barest of staff." Good sport that he is, McCarthy calls OutLoud publisher Chase "a real hero" to Gay Life for having weaned it back to financial health after "tumultuous times" under previous management, which had accumulated "an enormous amount of debt."

"I want to see that this institution continues to grow and to thrive," an ever-ebullient McCarthy waxes about Gay Life. "And I want to help support a newspaper that I believe in and give back to a community that has really empowered and supported me."

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