Austin “keeps it weird” with new LGBTQ newspaper

by Fred Kuhr

Texas is a big state, so it’s not a surprise that a new LGBTQ newspaper has arrived in the Lone Star State. While longtime publications have existed in Dallas and Houston, the new kid on the block is in the capital of Austin.

The new monthly newspaper is entitled Leslie and refers to itself as “the weird city’s queer voice.”

First issue of Leslie in October 2023

“You are probably asking the same question we ask ourselves: ‘Why are you starting an LGBTQ+ media company [now]?” Mike Hendrix, Leslie’s publisher, asked in the first issue, published last October. “Our community is at a crossroads; we’re being threatened from every side. … We here at Leslie can no longer stand by and be complacent. We are the new voice, the so-called silent majority who can be silent no longer. We are here, we are loved, and we will be the voice of our community here in Austin and Central Texas. We will call out injustice, wherever we see it.”

Hendrix is a former candidate for the Texas House. Joining him on staff are Caroline Savoie as managing editor and Brian Kirchner as creative director.

The newspaper is named for Leslie Cochran, a local legend who was known as the Queen of Austin as well as the unofficial mayor of Austin. In fact, he ran for mayor in 2000 and 2003 on the issues of helping the homelessness and planting more trees. He received just under 8 percent of the vote in 2000. Described as a “chronically unhoused man” in media reports, the Miami native lived in Austin from 1996 until his death in 2012.

He is remembered as an activist, a flamboyant second-hand fashion icon — often seen in tutus, tiaras and feather boas — and man about town. He is the subject of a 2019 documentary and appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Following his death on March 8, 2012, then-Mayor Lee Leffingwell declared March 8 “Leslie Day.”

So important is the legacy of Cochran to the city of Austin and its beloved weirdness, Hendrix chose Leslie as the title of his new publication and devoted four of its 24 pages to honouring him as well as placing him on the cover of its inaugural issue with the headline “Long Live Leslie.”

Every issue includes a feature called “Leslie’s Corner,” featuring history and quotes from Cochran. Another feature called “This month’s Leslie,” spotlights a current community member whose work carries on Cochran’s legacy.

“Those who knew Leslie Cochran used a spectrum of words to describe the Austin icon,” the feature starts. “Brave, headstrong, generous, creative and queer — Cochran’s spirit lives on through the streets of the city inside those who dare to challenge societal norms, use their platforms to give a voice to the unheard, and embody the true, strange and sacred spirit of Austin, Texas.”

Volume 26
Issue 3

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