Canal Street Online Manchester

Dan Carter chats with Tag Warner from Gay Times

Dan Carter chats with Tag Warner from Gay Times

We spoke to Tag Warner, the brand director of Gay Times magazine, who are currently running nights with the Chappy gay dating app up and down the country. We were very happy to briefly catch up with them and talk about the magazine and the future...

Tag: We relaunched the magazine and in about March 2018. For a long time, the magazine has been the big focus. It’s been continuous publication for about 45 years now, for the first 10 years it wasn’t I under the Gay Times name, but it did focus on gay news and then in the mid 1980’s it became Gay Times.

So, what prompted the relaunch?

Tag: Really to start recognising that the community in which we exist, for a long time the magazine has focused on a gay and bisexual male audience but as you all know LGBTQ as an identifier for the community is a lot more used in more recent years and that’s not to say that people in the LGBTQ community haven’t existed, we know that they have, it’s just they haven’t actually been served or recognised and I think it’s important that Gay Times took quite a bold stance to say that although the gay and bisexual male audience is incredibly important to us there are people within our community that we have responded to.

There’s a lot of gay press publications out there right now, you’ve got Gay Times, Attitude, Pink News etc do you worry that some of them are very ‘London-centric’?

Tag: Yes, absolutely. I think one other thing I have been really passionate about in 2018 is taking us outside of London and our audience sits mostly across the UK and the US, we’re pretty much split across the two. Within the UK you’re absolutely right there are some publications that do have quite a London-centric voice and actually regardless of LGBTQ, media in the whole of the UK has quite a London-centric voice a lot of the time and I think that’s not really fair. I didn’t grow up in London, I grew up in the middle of nowhere and I remember growing up and totally having that feeling of total isolation, didn’t know anybody that I identified with in any way at all so I think having the last year in the organisation to start thinking about where are we serving our audience and having a physical presence here is really important to us so we’ve done multiple events in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool just to take us outside of that London bubble.

So why did you choose to team up with Chappy?

Tag: I think Chappy for us was a really clear choice simply because, although of course as organisation Gay Times is there for the whole LGBTQ community part of that community of course is still gay and bisexual men, when we look across the apps that are available Chappy for us stood out as the only real choice for us to partner with. We have been with Chappy for about a year and although it is a gay relationship app, what they do have is a very clear stance on prejudice across the whole community and I haven’t seen any other app taking such a public stance on so there’s things like the Chappy pledge and there moderation from a back of house technical side which is very strict on prejudice and discrimination.

In terms of Canal Street what would you say we should do to reach a wider audience? What kind of content should we be pushing?

Tag: I think for me, that I always say that people connect over a shared experience and narrative and stories. I think the thing for me about Canal Street which is so Important is there is so much history and legacy there in a street. There is so much about that one place that means a lot to different people but could also mean something to a new generation of readers or your audience. I think telling the stories of what Canal Street has meant to people over their life time I think is really exciting.

Whoever you speak to, I think you find that people view Canal Street as essential but like with London there’s a lot of development and private investment with venues being bought up or being turned into something else and there is a concern that the gay scene is being taken away from the community. Have you seen that in London?

Tag: Absolutely, I think that 50% of LGBTQ venues have closed in London over the last 10 years and we spoke quite a bit about that over the summer with a campaign we were doing about that. I think spaces are vital, they are so important and I think looping back to what we’re doing I think it’s important that we come to a city like Manchester and other cities as well to show up and get people more involved. I hope that as we travel ahead people understand the importance of spaces and places after many years of decline.

I’d like to say a huge thanks to Gay Times and Chappy for putting on the event. It is great to see that there is outreach beyond the London bubble and I hope that we get to see more of it. The LGBT experience does not just exist within the metropolitan areas of the country and it is important that whatever kind of media we are it serves as wider audience as possible.

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Published: 30-Jan-2019

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