Why Fab Magazine meant nothing to me, and why that’s okay


I bleed queer media.

I love queer journos.

I am an AA Bronson-loving, Gregg Araki-watching, Darren Greer-reading faggot who always wants more. I’m a selfish consumer. If there is no substance, I get bored. If I’m being pandered to, I move on. I am one of the hardest people to please.

And yet I read what I don’t like, in the hopes that something will change. That people will improve. That something, anything, will change for me. I said I was a selfish reader.

Fab magazine didn’t die because it sucked. It had an audience. It was the event listings magazine for the nouveau gay. It was the soft core cum pamphlet for the not-out-but-horny. It was never meant to be substantial in any other way than to be a gateway glossy. It never could be, because Fab wasn’t about features that dissected gay culture to a point of any new kind of understanding. The writer’s journey was oft simplistic and under-researched. Not always, but often. The only dreams that Fab magazine produced were inspired by imagery—sexy, sexy imagery. I came to the conclusion that Fab wasn’t changing and wouldn’t inspire me when I picked up a Priape catalogue and jerked off to a guy in a fetish wrestling singlet. I came all over the glossy pages. Later that week I picked up Fab magazine and I couldn’t tell the difference. My aspirations for queer media hit a wall. I was faced with the reality that Fab was for titillation and that was its service.

My qualms with this are personal. I want queer media to teach me something, and if it is going to be a gateway glossy, it should attempt to regionally discuss queer issues as they exist within the region. But like most print media, ad sales are king, and that often leads to a diluted message. A double-page spread about millenial AIDS apathy and the generation’s propensity toward bareback sex isn’t going to inspire a bathhouse or a phone sex line to buy ad space (but, to Fab magazine editor Phil Villeneuve’s credit, he did say he would be interested in this story from me, so changes were afoot). Whether the impetus was to produce informative features, it was almost never satisfied.

Unfortunately, there is no king of queer media. I usually hop from blog to blog, reading various pieces of queer writing, and indulging my appetite that way. All mainstream queer pubs have fallen victim to the same pressures. Fluff and troll covers get readers. Readers mean money. Money means you’re not going out of business.

Until even your audience isn’t enough, and your ad share goes to digital. Like it has been trending for a long time now. Former editor-in-chief Matt Thomas tells me this is what happened with Fab, and Pink Triangle Press is moving Fab’s online content to its digital property Daily Xtra. After April, Fab is done.

I’m not sad, because Fab magazine never meant anything to me. I read it every month and rarely learned anything. I never had a party featured in the pages, nor attended a party because it was Fab-recommended. I never got style tips from the style section, or wanted to fuck a monthly (correction: bi-weekly) Fab guy. And I’ve already told you how I felt about the features.

But as a serviceable welcome-to-gay-Toronto-young-person magazine, I can see why people would have an attachment. If the magazine helped spread the word about a show I was in, or a party I was throwing, I could see why someone would value it.

I’m just saying it didn’t shape my gay identity. And as sad as it is to lose a queer pub, I won’t feel any sense of longing.


  1. Brock

    Fab is shit and its focus on the ‘party queens’ is what kept it alive and then led to its demise. The only reference I ever heard from people was, “Oh, did you see me in Fab?” and “The sex survey is out…let’s submit fake answers and see if they get in.” Sorry to read the words from Matt Thomas defending his baby. It was his ugly baby, you offended him, and he rightfully is defending it. The thing is, we all still know it’s an ugly baby. 😉

  2. RPM

    I agree completely – mind you I can be pretty superficial person but nothing in FAB ever spoke to me, and I wasn’t looking for great cultural insights there.

  3. Adam

    I find the biggest problem facing gay publications is and always has been the dissension in the community and the lack of support for these publications.
    I went for a focus group at Xtra looking to give opinions once on what I liked and disliked. When the host asked the group what we liked, I was surprised to hear everyone say in unison “Nothing.”
    When asked what we would change, the entire group in unison “Everything.”
    It bothers me.

    Comments like the above “It was shit”, “I lined my bird cage with it”, “Nothing ever spoke to me” are what killed this magazine. Now we don’t have local gay press. Is that really better?

    I remember reading an article about the new Jeffrey Round mystery that led me to go to Glad Day and buy a Canadian author’s book. I remember an article by Todd Klinck about escorting that told me it was okay to push the boundaries of my sexual comfort. I remember election coverage profiling and interviewing the candidates in my riding and asking them about LGBT issues.

    When I read magazines like OUT, every issue has letters “I can’t believe it, I’m never reading your magazine again!” Rather than hate, why not try to make it better?
    Why is there so much hatred? I’ve got to think it’s homophobia.

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