Advertisers split on young gay magazine

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Publisher Peter Ian Cummings is outraged because fashion and other major advertisers refuse to sign on with XY, a glossy magazine produced every other month for young gay men, including teen-agers.

To fight back, the June issue asks readers to write letters to Abercrombie & Fitch, The Gap, Calvin Klein and Levi Strauss & Co. to protest.

"XY is for suburban boys. We offer prime demographic marketing opportunities to the young gay market, yet these advertisers whose ads frequently feature young male models refuse to advertise in the magazine," says Mr. Cummings, founder and publisher of San Francisco-based XY. The publication was launched in 1997 and claims an unaudited circulation of 75,000 with widespread distribution through national bookstores and newsstands.

Advertisers that have appeared in XY include Tower Records, Virgin Records America , SmithKline Beecham and the California Department of Health Services. Advertisers that are mainstays of other gay magazines have avoided XY, says Mr. Cummings.

Media buyers, speaking off the record, say the reason many advertisers are steering clear of XY is that a magazine explicitly promoting homosexuality among teen-agers is off-limits. They cite that difference in supporting gay magazines whose readers are consenting adults.

XY is playing a significant role in mainstream online media, however. The magazine's site can be accessed directly via America Online, and the magazine is also providing content to the "youth channel" on

Mr. Cummings says gay teen-agers are an overlooked minority who need information about young gay adult lifestyles.

"Every five minutes a gay male teen-ager commits suicide. We get a tremendous amount of fan mail from kids who are so grateful there is a magazine talking about their issues of being accepted, coming out and what it's like to be a gay teen-ager," he says.

Gap says it has not received any calls from XY readers complaining about its lack of advertising in the magazine and confirms that it has no current plans to advertise in the publication.

"We've met with XY [Publisher Cummings], and we've outlined our advertising strategy," says a Gap spokeswoman . "We take various strategies into consideration when selecting magazines to advertise in, such as circulation, reach, demographics and price. Our media buying department took these factors into consideration when evaluating whether to advertise in XY."

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