by Tim Boyd
(Tim Boyd is a co-founder and the publisher of Atlanta-based Georgia Voice. This editorial appeared in the newspaper’s April 10, 2020, issue, part of that edition’s “Community Strong” theme examining the impact of COVID-19. A version of it is reprinted here with permission.)
Survival. We are all consumed by it right now. Will I survive? Will my partner or spouse? Family and friends? The worry extends further out to the economy, our own businesses, our jobs. Will any of what we have known survive?
I have lived through many losses in my life. Anxiety and grief are not new to me. I lost my partner to AIDS in the ’90s. I lost my best friend, too, and many others. I have watched several siblings die. I lost a thriving business that I loved. Loss, it seems, has been a constant companion. Despite that, or maybe because of it, I remain cautiously optimistic about the deepening crisis the entire world now faces.
As a community, we have a long history of being strong and resilient. We adapt, we support each other and we do whatever it takes to get to the other side of anything thrown in our path. COVID-19 will be no exception.
We may tragically lose loved ones and the way of life we knew before may be altered but we will not lose our strength or our hope — it’s just not in our nature. And it is not in our nature to stand by and watch as we lose vital community resources whether it be an HIV-based non-profit or our own media.
Newspapers, large and small, are struggling to stay afloat. Closed restaurants, nightclubs, salons, gyms, and countless other businesses mean lost advertising. Advertising revenue, especially for free papers, pays for everything — salaries, printing costs, delivery costs and on and on. Even papers with paying subscribers are feeling the pinch. Gannett, the parent company of USA Today and other large papers, has announced pay cuts and furloughs. Closer to home, Atlanta Magazine has laid off six staffers including its executive editor. LGBTQ publications across the country are struggling to stay open and serve their local communities. Georgia Voice is no exception.
We want you to know that we intend to get through this time and how we intend to do it. I am proud of the fact that in our 10 years we have never missed an issue or published late. That will continue to be the case. We have had to cut back our already small staff and we will have to reduce the number of pages we print, but you can count on still finding a copy even if you have to search a little harder for it. If you cannot find one, call us and we will let you know where to find our most recent issue. Themed issues like our Arts and Wedding issues will be postponed until the venues and other businesses that support them reopen. But we will continue to bring you coverage of the most important issues in our area. Future issues will carry info on the impact of social distancing and digital connection in our community.
You can always read a copy of the latest edition online. We are posting to our website and Facebook daily and our subscribers will continue to receive our weekly newsletter every Friday. The 2020 edition of “Destination Gay Atlanta” will be pushed back to Aug. 1 when we expect the city will be open again for business.
Some have described this pandemic as a “war.” During a major war, people have historically come together to help their neighbors, friends, and businesses. Community is placed before the individual because we are stronger together.
That’s where you come in.
We are creating a special section that will appear both in print an on our website. “Community Strong” will feature stories from readers like you. These stories can be anything from news about what’s happening in your own neighborhood to how you are coping with the isolation we all are experiencing. We need you to be a “community reporter,” to share with other readers the reality of your own life in the midst of this pandemic. Are you working from home? How is that going? Kids at home? Have you lost your job? Your business? Are you and your neighbors and friends banding together to help others? Working at a food pantry? Making masks? Watching news all day or shutting it down? Whatever you are doing, we ALL want to know.
I cannot stress enough how much we all need each other now. We need to hear from one another, help where we can, and offer both hope and concrete ideas on how to survive this. Your community needs you. Your media source needs you. The road to recovery will be long and full of challenges. Together, we will survive.