An empowering ‘Outlook’

Magazine gives voice to Ohio’s LGBT community

By Katie Christoff

Photo: [l-r] Outlook Magazine Associate Publisher Chad Frye, Managing Editor Erin McCalla, Publisher Christopher Hayes, LGBT Activist Alexis Perrone, Associate Publisher Page and Editor-in-Chief Bob Vitale; photo Gracie Umana

Outlook Ohio Magazine, a niche publication serving the LGBT community in Ohio and a sponsor of Dayton Pride Week, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

The magazine began as a newsletter for an LGBT center in Columbus and has continued to develop ever since. It quickly became Outlook News, a newspaper that turned into a tabloid weekly, and from these publications, Outlook Columbus was born. Now, the magazine is published monthly and available for free in major cities throughout Ohio.

“Our main objective is to give a voice to those that usually don’t have a voice of their own or aren’t often heard,” says Chris Hayes, the publisher, CEO and one of three Outlook Media partners. Hayes began working for Outlook in 2004 and was instrumental in developing the new monthly magazine format. He had previously worked for a similar LGBT entertainment magazine in New York City then moved to Los Angeles to create his own LGBT publication called Blur. Hayes grew up in Findlay, Ohio. He attended school at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio, and before finishing his degree at New York University, he decided to move back home, where he became involved in Outlook.

“They were looking to change and wanted it to be more relaxed, more like my magazine in L.A.,” Hayes says. “They wanted to buy it, so I suggested they might as well hire me to run it.”

And the rest is history. Since then, Hayes has been working with Outlook, creating editorial content tailored to the LGBT community. He shares ownership with Chad Frye, associate publisher and marketing and advertising director, and Bob Vitale, associate publisher and editor-in-chief.

“Niche publishing is our market; it’s why we’re successful,” Hayes says. “No one really speaks to the LGBT community from the LGBT voice. We highlight LGBT business owners, LGBT artists. We really don’t try to get too much into mainstream topics. …that’s what makes us successful.”

When Dayton City Paper spoke with Hayes, his team was in the process of putting together the magazine’s annual Pride issue, which was published June 1, just before Pride Week in Dayton. This year’s issue is split into three sections: national Pride-related issues, regular content and an entire section dedicated to marriage.

As a sponsor of Dayton Pride Week, the magazine’s staff will be present at the parade, handing out copies of their Pride issue.

Outlook has been involved in Pride events throughout Ohio, and has even recently grown to host its own events. Last year in an effort to put the magazine’s mission into action, it put together the first Love Big LGBT Wedding Expo, a free event featuring wedding vendors committed to marriage equality.

“No one services the LGBT wedding market,” Hayes says. “You can’t get married in the state, but over the years, more and more people come back home [to Ohio] and have their reception here.”

The vendors include florists, jewelers, officiates, stationary sellers, reception venue-owners and caterers.

“Finding vendors that will service a gay wedding is an added stress. The last thing you want is rejection while you’re celebrating your love. Couples could come and just be themselves and take out that stress,” Hayes says. “It’s great for them to know everyone is there for them and respects their love and what their life is.”

Hayes says the wedding expo was so successful it expanded to five cities this year, including Dayton. He plans to begin publishing an annual wedding issue of the magazine to complement the expo.

Hayes is proud to have created these events, but believes there’s still a lot of work to be done to achieve equality for the LGBT community. For example, he said, a TV news station was present at one of the recent wedding expos and most couples wouldn’t talk to reporters on the air for fear they’d get fired from their jobs.

“You can get married, but you can also get fired for being gay,” Hayes says. “There’s still tons we need to do here.”

He hopes the events they put together, in addition to the content Outlook Ohio Magazine produces, will help create a greater acceptance of the LGBT community in Ohio and across the U.S.

“First and foremost, we’re an activism organization,” Hayes says. “We’re hopefully doing good, while we’re doing well.” He says the Outlook staff is blessed to see the work they’re doing come to life, especially when they can see it making a positive impact in the LGBT community.

“Last year when we went statewide it was great for us because we’ve always been in Columbus, but smaller places don’t realize what a need there is,” Hayes continues. “We assume in metropolitan areas, people are cool with being gay, but the reality is most people are in the closet. We think there’s a very important and real need to keep the community, and we want to be that bridge for all the cities in Ohio.”

Outlook Magazine is published monthly and available for free throughout the state of Ohio. Paid home-delivery subscription is also available. For more information on the magazine or where to find a copy, please visit outlookcolumbus.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Christoff at KatieChristoff@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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