by Joe Siegel
Options, Rhode Island’s all-volunteer LGBT newsmagazine, has returned nearly one year after ceasing publication.
“Options will be monthly and will be published 10 months a year,” said board chair TC Rogers. “Much of the content will remain the same as we want to continue to focus on representing our local community and Rhode Island LGBTQ+ non-profits and events. Though there will be some changes, including a youth section, which is included in our re-launch issue.”
Options will continue to print 5,000 copies, including 3,000 to households and 2,000 to local businesses, though subscriptions to households are increasing, Rogers noted. “We have an updated website which will eventually become a hub for LGBTQ+ news and includes a digital version of the magazine.”
Rogers said Options has been entirely volunteer-driven by the 11 board members for the past 10 months, until the recent hire of a part-time editor. Jen Stevens has returned in that capacity.
Options began publishing in 1982 and shut down June 2017. Kyle McKendall, the magazine’s executive director at the time, said the move was made due to a lack of funds and volunteers.
“Despite the growth we’ve seen in readers and revenue over the past three years, we continue to struggle with maintaining the resources needed to operate at a level that is expected by readers and advertisers,” McKendall wrote in a letter to subscribers at the time.
But Rogers said money was never a problem. “Funding already existed from previous savings. Also, Options production is well funded by businesses seeking advertisements each month and donations from readers,” Rogers said.
Taking the break from publication was the right decision, McKendall believes.
“I think it’s exactly what everybody needed in order to regroup,” McKendall noted. “Printing a monthly magazine puts an immense amount of pressure and stress on the volunteer staff.”
McKendall has worked with Rogers and the board to ensure a “smooth transition.”
McKendall would like to see Options continue to evolve and explore more diverse topics in the future. “We talked a lot about the growth of Options from a newsletter into a magazine,” McKendall said. “I hope that growth continues.”
Rogers believes the future is bright for Options. “There has been an extremely positive response to the return of Options,” Rogers said. “Donations have been flowing in, as well as e-mails, written letters, Facebook messages and people stopping me on the street or in the grocery store asking for, wanting and thrilled that Options is back in print.”
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