Patrick Farabaugh was just being cautious when he chose a small format for Our Lives, a new magazine for Madison's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. But by the time he published the first issue, in July, "I was turning advertisers away," he says dolefully. "Any media outlet does not want to be turning advertisers away."
So Farabaugh, 30, expanded to a larger format for the second issue of Our Lives, where he serves as editor-in-chief and publisher. The September/October edition, just out, features a cover story on soon-to-depart WKOW news anchor Mitch Weber and his participation in ACT, the Wisconsin AIDS ride.
Why did Farabaugh start Our Lives? When he moved here from New York, two years ago, he discovered that Madison lacked a gay periodical of its own. "There wasn't any real gay media," he says, "except Quest, from Green Bay, and Q Life from Milwaukee." He knows gay media: In New York he worked for the national gay magazine Out, among other publications.
Since Our Lives is a bimonthly, Farabaugh and his writers do not cover breaking news. "I want to say it's like a People magazine for gay people," he says, though he is quick to note that the focus is not celebrities. "It's more like those human-interest stories that People does really well."
The first two issues of Our Lives include profiles of local activists and business owners, as well as personal essays, an advice column, shopping notes and entertainment features. The first issue prominently featured an article by Farabaugh on the Madison Gay Hockey Association, which he founded last year. Indeed, he says, his experiences with the association inspired him to start Our Lives.
"The Madison Gay Hockey Association was a social experiment, a socially constructed, peer-mentoring LGBT sports league," he says. "The magazine is an outgrowth, for people with no athletic aspirations."
In addition to the magazine's content, the Our Lives web site features entertainment and community listings, plus a forum that is "the most constructive and comprehensive gay forum I've seen," Farabaugh says.
A native of Merrillville, Ind., Farabaugh left for New York to work for Entertainment Weekly and a succession of prominent magazines. But the city wore on him.
"I'm not a big-city person," he says. "But I didn't think I could comfortably return to a small town. I wanted something that was progressive and in the Midwest, and that felt like a collection of neighborhoods. That narrowed my options." After a 2004 trip to Milwaukee for Condé Nast Traveler, he was hooked on Wisconsin.
He praises Madison for its acceptance of gay people. "We are integrated," he says. "We don't even have a gay ghetto, the way Chicago has Boystown and New York has Chelsea and Greenwich Village. In Madison, you can live openly just about anywhere."