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How Gay Pin-Up Mags Launched a Revolution

Content is what spreads your message. We see this all throughout history. Figure out how to produce and distribute the message, and you'll begin to create community and belonging with your people.

Although LGBTQ History Month isn't until October, Out magazine's next issue covers both September and October. For my finance column in the mag, I wrote about a story from queer history that entrepreneurs might find interesting.

Many people consider the Stonewall Uprising to be the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. But before the protest that launched a thousand pride parades—and many more rainbow washing advertisements—activist entrepreneurs were leveraging capitalism to build both queer equality and community, work that later secured one of America’s earliest gay rights Supreme Court victories (One, Inc. v. Olesen, 355 U.S. 371).

Even if you don’t know any of the old physique publications by name, you know the references when you see them. The black-and-white illustrations of muscleheads and Grecian warrior-inspired pin-ups are considered vintage today, but in the 1950s and 60s they fed an entrepreneurial publishing vehicle that educated and connected tens of thousands of young gay men, many of whom otherwise felt alone.

My final finance column for Out for 2023 explores the idea that capitalism, albeit imperfect, can be a vehicle to spread ideas, bolster activism, and foster a sense of belonging.

A big thanks to Daniel Reynolds as always for letting me push the boundaries of what a finance column can be. And a special thank-you to scholar David K. Johnson, who quite literally wrote the book (“Buying Gay”) on this slice of LGBTQ history, for speaking with me for this article.

Give this one a read, and if you find it interesting, consider sharing it with others.

🔗 How Gay Pin-Up Mags Launched a Political Revolution

Different Is Better Than Better

c/o Visual Capitalist

Visual Capitalist is a website that communicates trends in business and the world in terms of infographics.

Business news has been done to death. Visual Capitalist proves that, if you can communicate the same information as others, but can communicate it differently, you'll have an easier time standing out from the crowd.

It's easier (and usually cheaper) to be different than it is to be better.

The phrase “Different is better than better” is usually attributed to Sally Hogshead, bestselling author and speaker. As she likes to say, “it's good to be better, but it's better to be different.”

If you need a shot of creative inspiration, spend some time browsing Visual Capitalist. Their infographics are beautifully done.

Critical Thinking: WIRED Mission Statement

c/o WIRED website

This is WIRED's four-sentence “About” statement that appears in their website footer. Pay attention to how each sentence is structured.

“WIRED is where tomorrow is realized. It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. The WIRED conversation illuminates how technology is changing every aspect of our lives—from culture to business, science to design. The breakthroughs and innovations that we uncover lead to new ways of thinking, new connections, and new industries.”

Food for thought:

  • Who is WIRED's target reader?
  • Who is WIRED's target customer?
  • Is the statement unique? Why or why not?
  • If you similarly had to summarize your business in four sentences, what would you say?

Doing assessments like this every now and again can help you clarify your own brand statements.

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Cheering you on,

—Nick