After eight years at the helm of the UK's best-willing and ward-winning gay magazine, Matthew Todd is bidding adieu to Attitude and launching his new book, Straight Jacket: How to be Gay and Happy. As Attitude welcomes HRH The Duke of Cambridge to its July Issue - Matthew's last as editor - he thanks those who've made it all possible...
(This article was first published in Attitude Issue 272, July 2016).
Welcome to an extraordinary and historic issue of Attitude
. I am exceptionally honoured to welcome His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge on to the cover and directly into LGBT+ history. The importance of a member of the Royal Family posing for the cover of a gay magazine for the first time cannot be overstated. We are grateful he chose Attitude
and that he has spoken out against the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people because, as we first wrote in 2010, the homo and transphobia many of us face can lead to higher levels of mental health problems.
One of my heroes, Oprah Winfrey, said on the final episode of her show, that of all the thousands of guests she had welcomed over 25 years, there was one thing they all shared. They all wanted to know: “Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean something to you?” Until very recently, being LGBT+ in the UK meant not being seen, heard or acknowledged.
On 12 May, we took eight LGBT+ people, as well as Mena Houghton, the mother of a young gay man who died after years of homophobic bullying, to Kensington Palace to tell Prince William about their experiences of bullying and its effect on their mental health. In a very public way, the future King of England saw us, heard us and said, yes, our experience and wellbeing matters to him.
It truly is an historic moment. I want to say thank you to His Royal Highness, who was delightful, and to his advisors, who helped make this happen. I’ll leave you to read about our afternoon, starting on page 84.
This is also a special issue for me, personally, because it is my last issue as editor of Attitude
. This month marks 20 years since I first joined the team as an editorial assistant, back in 1996, and eight years since I took over as editor. This seems the right moment for me to move on to new challenges. It has been an incredible privilege to edit this magazine and I have had some breathtaking experiences — from meeting the biggest superstars in the world to prime ministers, to giving advice to celebrities considering coming out and handing in a petition with Alan Turing’s family. But what has ultimately made this job so fulfilling is the relationship with you, the readers.
Meeting and communicating with you has been unquantifiably humbling, moving and inspiring — from parents fighting bullying after losing children, gay police officers, teachers, dancers, actors, soldiers, estate agents (!), brave trans pioneers or people ready to talk about difficult experiences, or to simply take their clothes off for our Real Bodies page to help show some diversity in the gay media, all with the aim of helping us to help each other.
People say there is no gay community but I’ve experienced over and over through this job. There are so many of us who care about each other. There are so many of us who want to help. There are so many of us who want it to be better for younger people than it was for us. Some criticise Attitude
but your letters and emails have showed me how important this magazine is. That young man who wrote that Attitude
helped him find the courage to tell his parents that their “beer-swilling, rugby-playing son was a big hairy homo,” or the guy who thanked me at a sexual health meeting because “Attitude
was the only place that taught me about safe sex” or the woman whose call I took for half-an-hour after she found her husband’s copy, trying to convince her not to cut off his contact with their kids, our relationship has been intense and incredible.
I want to thank you for supporting the magazine. I joined not because I wanted to be a journalist but because, like so many of you, I went through hell growing up and wanted to have a hand in changing things, too.
I’m giving up the best job in gay media for reasons that relate to our discussion with Prince William. As this issue is published, my book, Straight Jacket: How to be Gay and Happy,
is released. Please don’t think I’m leaving because it’s earned me loads of money and I don’t need to work anymore. Not at all.
The book is a call-to-arms about how those of us with wounds from growing up LGBT in a less-than-supportive world can heal. If, like me, your self-esteem has suffered, or you’ve developed unhealthy coping mechanisms, then I want you to know, that no matter how bad you feel, there are things you can do about it. But I need to put my money where my mouth is and finish healing my own wounds.
It’s difficult to do that with a full-on job like this. For I-don’t-know-how-long, I’m going to have a new, part-time position as editorial director to support our new acting editor Cliff Joannou, who I know will do a fantastic job. And I’m going to pursue other creative things: first off will be a one-man play about the issues in my book. Please come to see me.
You’ll soon notice a new direction in Attitude
. Whether that works is up to you. Make your voice known. Write to the team and express yourself — in a constructive way. Most of all, buy a subscription (see page 13, it’s a good offer!), get your friends to do so. Support Attitude because it really is important. It is more than just a magazine.
I want to say sorry if I didn’t reply to your email and to anyone I pissed off. It’s a stressful job and I did my best. I want to thank everyone who has helped me, including all the fantastic celebrities who support us (we don’t pay them, you know), all the PRs and publicists and industry people and our advertisers. Thanks to all my friends and family for their support. And to James Collard and Ian Tucker for giving me the opportunity, Luke Day, Elauan Lee, Daniel Fulvio, Andrew Fraser, Cliff Joannou and Vince Nicholls, and especially Paul Flynn, who has supported me whenever I needed it. Most of all thanks to our owner Justin Sanders for giving me the top job eight years ago and to Mike Buckley, our managing director, for helping me manage the past five years. Last, but not least, thank you to the previous editor, Adam Mattera, for teaching me so much of what I learnt, a man who held this magazine together through the early part of the millennium. Those were some extremely crazy but special times.
Almost lastly, if you follow me on social media you’ll know I am passionate about lots of things including climate change. Most find it boring but I’ve tried to talk about it as much as possible in Attitude
because it’s the biggest threat there is. Like nothing we’ve known. We’re in trouble and we should be focusing on it. There’s very little time left to stop it. It’s more important than Conservative or Labour or Lib Dem or any celebrity or hot guy or any fashion line, singer, film or person.
There is no LGBT equality on a fucked planet. I’m taking this final opportunity to say it again, yet another screaming alarm bell. Be aware that there are hugely powerful people working to distract us from doing the right thing because it will cost them money. We are letting them win.
Finally, I’ve come to realise when all is said and done, life is about kindness. It is the key. I was thinking about what to write and I came across this quote from the internet. It might have been made up by a talking goose but it was credited to Tennessee Williams, a man whom him off of Four Weddings and a Funeral
might have called “another splendid bugger.” It says it all.
“The world is violent and mercurial — it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love — love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent, being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.”
Editor, Attitude magazine, 2008-2016
British Society of Magazine Editors Editor of the Year 2011 (Men's Magazine), 2015 (Men's Brand)
Stonewall Journalist of the Year 2011
Nominated for Stonewall Journalist of the Decade 2015
Attitude’s historic July Issue in shops and available to download now from pocketmags.com/attitude. Print copies are available to order globally from newsstand.co.uk/attitude.