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The June 2012 edition of Têtu was the second time the French LGTB (lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual) monthly magazine and the straight professional football player Olivier Giroud crossed their paths.  And it was huge. The footballer was having a flawless end of season; he had led his team, Montpellier Hérault Sport Club, to win the trophy for the first time in the club’s 83-year history, conquered the top-scorer award with 21 goals and got a transfer to London-based Arsenal for 12 million euros.

Remarkable as this might be, it didn’t make Giroud unique. Other players have led underdogs to win the Ligue 1, at least once a year someone gets the award for more goals scored and there have definitely been more lucrative negotiations for players crossing the English Channel. What made his June groundbreaking was his appearance -a first time ever for a French heterosexual football player- on the cover of Têtu.

giroud_tetu
Giroud was the first French straight football player on the cover of Têtu.
 

LGBT magazines are possibly as old as the sexual diversity movement in Europe, with publications dating as far back as the mid 20th century. Few, however, have survived along with the struggle for rights over the past decades, and the actual selection of lesbian, gay, bi and trans media usually wasn’t created earlier than the 1980s. Still, there is a widespread market of LGBT ranging from conservative Poland to liberal France. However, few have achieved luring a straight celebrity on to their cover, as Têtu did.

It was the magazine’s own readership that made it happen the first time the player appeared in it. On a general survey conducted earlier that year, in January, the editors asked who was the most attractive football player in the French Ligue 1. Giroud came out as the people’s favorite, over fellow footballers Lisandro López and Jean Calvé. But being considered sexy by gay readers and appearing shirtless on a LGBT magazine cover without being homosexual seems miles apart- or not.





Têtu approached the player and he agreed happily, adding along an interview on his positions regarding homosexuality. On the cover he featured proudly next to one of his quotes - “I have no taboos”- and in the article Giroud stated that he "would be delighted if his gesture could help change the mentality of some involved in the game."

These magazines share a common enemy -discrimination and hate-, and fight under the same flag of equal rights for everyone.

The magazine had done it again, breaking the usual rules on who should and who shouldn’t appear on the cover of a LGBT magazine. It has been a hard work from its actual director, Gilles Wullus, who joined the staff in 2008, and who started a quest to give Têtu a better image and make it more chic. Presently the magazine has a better chance of having a celebrity on its cover than any other same-sized mainstream publications-in other words, straight media.

The queer side of media

Launched in 1995, the magazine was co-founded by Didider Lestrade and Pascal Loubet and directed by Pierre Bergé in its early years, when it was still following the demise of Le Gai Pied magazine, which was published between 1979 and 1992. Têtu is only one of the dozens of European publications that appear monthly in shelves throughout the continent.

lgbt_lesbian_magazines
    Photo:Philippe Leroyer /foter.com (CC BY-NC-ND)
   Do gay magazines in Europe face common problems?

Wullus describes the magazine as a media -since it involves both the printed magazine and the website, which hardly share content between each other. The printed issue targets the French-speaking LGBT community mostly in Europe, the website goes for the global audience, receiving 50% of the visits from abroad, out of France.

In the meantime while a Paris bureau was devising Têtu, an innovative Pole was crafting his own sketches of how information and personal contact should look like in a country trying to get past the communist era. Radoslaw Oliwa finally uncovered his creation and Innastrona.pl was born, the predecessor of current Queer.pl, one of the leading LGBT news sites in Poland.

Founded by Oliwa in 1996 as Innastrona.pl, the magazine is defined as a social networking -one of the few that have survived to Facebook- and news website that creates a positive identity of LGBT people, informs about events connected with the community, and allows communication between members of the LGBT world.

What can possibly differentiate one gay magazine from another? Is there really a dramatically different struggle between one of the most secular countries in Europe, where liberal rights have been a family tradition for centuries, and the country with one of the highest Catholic percentages of the continent?

The answer seems to be no. They share a common
enemy -discrimination and hate-, and fight under the
same flag of equal rights for everyone.

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