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Gay Star News is closing: You deserve the full story, all our thanks and love

Tris Reid-Smith Scott Nunn Gay Star News founders

We are devastated to have to confirm the reports that Gay Star News has to close, effective immediately.

The site is no longer being updated. We don’t know how long it will remain online for but we will try to preserve it for as long as possible.

Some of you will already have heard this news. It started to break late last night via Twitter.

Of course, we would have wished to tell the story first ourselves. However, our priority was to do what we can for our amazing team and the others directly affected by what is happening.

Why is GSN closing?

Firstly, we feel you deserve to know why we have to close.

Since we started almost eight years ago, Gay Star News has been able to serve our community and grow.

It was clear from the outset that you, our readers and supporters around the world, wanted to hear about and engage with the stories we were telling.

However, it has always been a tough business. This year, it got unexpectedly much tougher.

We entered 2019 with every reason to be confident we were going to have a strong year. But as the year progressed, decisions have been delayed and projects people had committed to do with us have fallen flat.

There are a number of reasons, of course. But the biggest change was the level of confidence brands and businesses in the UK have, due to the uncertainty over Brexit. It won’t surprise anyone to hear that many media organisations are struggling with the same problem.

There has also been another trend which has become more apparent this year. Brands which are wishing to ‘do’ LGBTI work are increasingly doing so in a tokenistic way.

Rather than working with us to engage and serve LGBTI people year round, many have chosen to ‘rainbow wash’. They have turned their logo rainbow colored for Pride week or month and – at best – made a small donation to an LGBTI good cause. Worst still, we have learned that some brands have done this while at the same time funding anti-LGBTI politicians to the tune of millions of dollars. Tokenism has reached a new low.

Of course, most brands and businesses don’t even bother to rainbow wash. They ignore LGBTI customers and colleagues entirely. Anyone who has ever tried to encourage organisations to engage with our community will know they get more rejections than expressions of interest. Very often, one or two individuals in a company are keen but others block activity because it is ‘not a priority’ or even because they don’t want to be a ‘gay’ brand. (The nuances of our LGBTI+ rainbow family obviously escape them.)

That’s why we have consistently said other LGBTI media and organisations are not truly our competitors. They are our friends. Our only enemy has always been tokenism and apathy. In fact, there are very few who serve our global LGBTI community. And if companies and sponsors took us even half as seriously as we deserve as LGBTI people, there would be far more of us and we would be hugely successful.

So we would like to thank our ‘competitors’ for keeping us honest and making us innovate. Your work is vital. And with us gone, please support those who are left – or eventually there will be none left.

To avoid any doubt, our problem has been entirely financial. By all the statistics, Gay Star News is now more widely read, watched and loved by the international LGBTI audience than ever. It is a sad paradox that our popularity has not transferred into our survival. We are convinced we are closing at a time when more people want and need what we offer than ever before.

Thank you

We felt you deserved those answers. But the real point of this letter is to thank you.

Firstly, to thank our shareholders and business loan providers. None of us have ever made a profit from Gay Star News, despite our best efforts. In fact, our first and biggest supporters have all lost massively with our closure, including us personally. As time has gone on, it’s become clear the real reason people were continuing is that they loved what we do and wanted it to succeed. We all believed it would – but time and money have turned against us.

Secondly, we want to thank our clients. For all we have said about business apathy, there are some noble exceptions. Chief among these are our clients and sponsors. Like our shareholders, they took a risk on us. Like our shareholders, they will lose out due to our closure. We have always encouraged them to do authentic, long-term campaigns to really serve our community. They have responded, often magnificently, despite the tokenism of others.

Thirdly, thank you to our partners and colleagues in other LGBTI organisations and beyond. It has been a privilege to share your passion and commitment. We are beyond sorry we will no longer be there to work alongside you and support you – after all, your work is hard enough as it is.

The most heartbreaking moment, of course, was telling our team about our situation. They are exceptional, dedicated, talented. They are our family. We have tried our best to be the team leaders they deserve and are truly sorry that ultimately it wasn’t enough. We can’t imagine ever being lucky enough to work alongside such an amazing group of people again. If you have the opportunity to work with any one of them, now or in the future, please seize it.

And we need to thank you. Without our supporters and audience, there would, of course, been no Gay Star News. It has been an honor to serve you. Your comments, frequently witty and heartwarming, have brightened our days. At other times, when haters have made ignorant or stupid remarks on our social media, you have shut them down for us and stood up for others in our community. Your recommendations have made us grow. Your, often valid, criticisms have forced us to improve.

We have worked hard to empower, engage, unite, inform, inspire and entertain. We have solidly believed in the power of journalism. We have always believed in our community.

Our amazing team have pushed clients to do challenging, positive work. And they have emphasized exclusivity and telling the stories others don’t bother with. We have tried to represent all the diversity of our global LGBTI family and have monitored ourselves to ensure we never forget how important this is. For all the times we’ve fallen short, we are truly sorry. For all the times we have succeeded, we are grateful to you all.

For the two of us as company founders, and indeed for our whole team, Gay Star News has never been about our egos or even what it can do for us. We have wanted to tell your stories and make the world a brighter, better place for LGBTI+ people. We know we’ve helped people, even saved lives. We have been honored every day to have your trust. We hope all that has shone through.

As we said, the news broke before we could tell it. But since then we have been overwhelmed by an outpouring of positivity and love for Gay Star News and the people who have created it. People who have every reason to be angry or disappointed have responded with love and compassion. There have been a lot of hugs and a lot of tears. Thank you all, so, so much for how you have responded.

To the two of us, this response shows two things, which we hope will be our legacy. That Gay Star News was, in all meaningful senses, owned by the community it serves. And that community really did understand how incredible our colleagues were and how much passion they invested in everything we did. Despite what has happened, we are proud of that.

Gay Star News and Digital Pride have never just happened. They have been willed into being by incredible people. Until the very end we had good reason to believe we would survive. We have fought through and won through so many times. We were incredibly close. But this one has broken us, and truly broken our hearts.

With love and thanks,

Tris and Scott

Tris Reid-Smith and Scott Nunn
Founders, Gay Star News

UPDATE: Things are moving quickly and people are still coming forward with plans to rescue Gay Star News in some form or another. Naturally we will do all we can to make it happen and we are grateful beyond measure for all those trying to help.

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Author: Tris Reid-Smith