05/21/00: "Because you're the only one stupid enough to do it," said Jane this
past Friday when I asked her why someone else couldn't be in charge.
Yea, well in some people's eyes I might be stupid and a fool, but I
believe in the purpose, and I see the results of this grueling work
200 years from now making the gay & lesbian issue a non-issue
throughout southern society. You want to call that stupid, that's
fine with me.
The point of this journal entry is to bring to my own eyes and
everyone else's just what is happening in this community, regarding
It costs at a minimum $750 to publish and distribute the 2000 copies
every quarter. The ads we get each time just barely come close to
that, with many issues being covered out of mine and Michelle's
pockets over the last two years. But we both believed in the power
of the paper to reach gays and lesbians in rural areas to assure
them they are not alone within their own communities, and we felt it
had enormous potential to educate quite frankly the bigots who tend
to discriminate based on false stereotypes. I still believe in the
potential of this paper to achieve those goals.
We have a subscription list about 600 names long, the majority of
whom requested to be added. The rest of the papers are distributed
in bulk quantities at places where it can be picked up by anyone
with an interest, like Colors on Cherry downtown, or Wild Iris Books
in Gainesville, FL and several places in between.
As with any new endeavor, it takes time and integrity to build a
reputation and a following. I believe the content of the paper is
consistently high-quality, and has grown into a comfortable read
since its awkward beginning, born from the hearts of two people with
a strong passion but no experience. Copies of this paper have been
around the world in our efforts to attract attention from those who
also believe in its purpose, those willing to help fund such an
Well, finally we get a few tickles here and there from the big
corporate types who recognize that their target audience includes
gays and lesbians in rural areas. A handful of responses from
national-level advertisers reads something like this:
"We might be interested in advertising in Timeless Voices. Please
send us your press kit, and make sure you include readership
demographics and distribution."
It's no longer sufficient to send a letter of reply stating "we have
a distribution of over 2000 copies each quarter." They want to know
particulars about our readership, like how many are employed in the
teaching profession and how many of them own cats.
In an attempt to collect this data so that I could respond with a
more comprehensive media kit, I printed a reader survey in the last
issue of the paper and explained briefly why you should fill it out
and return it. Then I put a big plug for the survey on the front
page, to get people's attention. THEN, to make SURE people
responded, I begged readers to fill it out and mail it in at the
beginning of my editorial.
I've gotten used to the concept that you have to give something in
return for people's efforts no matter how trivial the actions may
seem, so I even committed Timeless Voices to give away prizes
randomly to people who took the time to send in the completed survey
(if they won't do it just for the sake of doing it, maybe if they
think they'll be rewarded they'll do it).
1000 copies of the latest issue were printed, and about 950 of them
were distributed during the first week in April. Based on the
results of this survey, I'm pleased to be able to tell Budweiser
that 10 people read this paper, "your advertisements will reach TEN
Ten responses to that survey are all that have been returned.
Sobering fact, indeed, to realize that the regular advertisers are
throwing money away with each issue, because only 10 people will see
This is when I sit back and try to figure out what the hell I'm
doing. This is not easy work, and it's not cheap. But I'm locked
into a vision that only 10 other people seem to share, along with
our current advertisers.
From experience, we learned that timing is critical when you're
planning a festival. So this year we thought we did it right, and
announced the basics for the festival in the January 2000 issue, and
included sponsor/vendor/parade information. We also know from
experience that queers don't commit to anything in advance, being
the spontaneous group that they are. Still, we put the knowledge in
front of them by the only means we have available: email, web
announcements, and Timeless Voices.
This week I get a complaint from someone who had previously claimed
to be a faithful reader of Timeless Voices, stating that they would
LOVE to be involved in the mass commitment ceremony during the
festival, but they are planning theirs for the following month, had
they known about ours earlier.... well, like I said, we felt January
was early enough.
I'm not so unrealistic to expect people to pay attention to every
word ever uttered, and broadly I feel like it will take a pattern of
many years of stable, solid achievement before it will actually
become part of their lives. But let me ask you how many people have
the stamina to work tirelessly, passionately devoted to a cause,
plundering through a silent darkness, until it begins to take "root"
and become recognized, and relied upon, and eventually sought out by
those it is intended to benefit?
I am not such a strong person that 10 readers out of thousands in
the target area can invigorate my passion to put this much into it
for very much longer, and I'm fully aware that this was also a
tremendous factor in Michelle's departure earlier this year.
I guess you can tell I'm planting the seeds to back off from this,
but I don't need anybody's permission to just up and quit. I wake up
everyday wishing I had a life outside of this "cause", and one of
these days I will hear what Jane says and agree with her. I'm tired
of being stupid.