OK cherubs, I know I’m probably going to step on a few toes for talking about this, but what the hell. Did anyone else see the article in the March 8 Salt Lake Tribune about the sudden disappearance of The Gay Pages directory? It was buried in the depths of the money section of Saturday’s paper, and considering there were no coupons or colorful pictures, I’m surprised I noticed it at all. But I did! Oh speaking of coupons, J.C. Penny’s has a buy two get one free sale on seamless support cup bras with wide comfort straps for sizes all the way up to 42 Ds. So run, my pendulous yet fiscally conservative little bargain hunters! RUN! Oh wait, what was I talking about? Oh yes, The Gay Pages directory being swallowed by the Bermuda Triangle.
Well, here’s the paraphrased and shrunk in a hot dryer version for those who missed it: The article reported that advertisers who had shelled out some big bucks to advertise in The Gay Pages directory have not seen this year’s edition. The publisher’s address is a postal box in a UPS store; and calls and e-mails to the publisher are not being returned. Hmmm … that seems a tad curious doesn’t it, muffins? Well color me soooo not surprised!
When the publisher of The Gay Pages directory blew into town last year and set up camp, I didn’t really pay that much attention. But one day my business was contacted to advertise in the book because we were listed in some other gay publications. We get about five solicitations a week to advertise somewhere, so it was no big deal until the caller mentioned the whole gay angle. I was suddenly intrigued. During the sales pitch I asked about the company’s history and connection with the local gay community. Boy howdy, was that an awkward pause, let me tell you.
Long story short, we didn’t advertise in the book because something was just slightly, weirdly off. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but you know how you get that really odd vibe? My suspicions were confirmed when the directory’s publisher Sean Wright was featured in a Channel 2 news piece about launching his directory. Rather than promote a superior product or his clever niche marketing, he just ripped on Q publisher Michael Aaron (that’s my job, dammit!) and completely trash talked The Q Salt Lake Pages. I was in shock! Here was this straight guy with no connection to our community trashing someone who has worked on local gay and lesbian issues for decades, and who has worked tirelessly to create an economically viable gay media in Salt Lake City. I was APPALLED, so I jumped on the Princess Phone that very evening and demanded that Michael get a retraction and apology (one year later I still think Channel 2 has some “’splainin’ to do”). Michael didn’t want to get caught up in a mud-slinging contest (oh, but you know I sure as hell did, petals!). He just wanted to let Wright’s directory and his bizarro business model speak for itself.
Apparently, the first (and so far only) Gay Pages directory was printed by the kazillions, and rather than focusing the book on gay folk and efficiently targeting distribution, he was randomly blanketing entire neighborhoods that “seemed gay” like the Avenues, Ninth & Ninth, etc. Wow. That exhibits almost Karl Rovian direct mail targeting precision … NOT! My first thought was, “what if some ultra-conservative gets one of these unsolicited things on his family’s doorstep? He will probably go berserk and blame the gay community.” After working on gay and lesbian social and political issues for years, and carefully building networks and bridges with the broader straight community, I felt like someone from the Pride Center, or some gay politico needed to go on TV and scream, ”It’s not us, we would never do something that tacky!”
Well anyway, cupcakes, my rising blood pressure is not helping my arterial clogging, so I will leave you with this: If The Gay Pages directory does resurrect itself, then we as a community need some reassurances from Mr. Wright that his directory isn’t just a hit and run advertising scam, and that he shows some type of real connection and support for the community that he is financially strip mining. Allegedly.