TIMOTHY YOON LIKES the word community. When the 25-year-old Detroit native talks about the queer scene in the Twin Cities, he leans forward earnestly, and he uses phrases like "building bridges," with great comfort. It's this impulse toward connection that inspired Yoon to co-found the local monthly Up Magazine, which is working on its fifth issue. "People could work together more," he says, tucking chin-length black hair behind his ears. "Up Magazine doesn't take sides. We're saying 'Get involved, make change!'"
"Get involved" is a call to action, but Up Magazine is at least as interested in the social scene as in political activity. The pages are full of thin, young, hip, beautiful people in expensive clothes, posed in local outdoor settings. The publication, which Yoon edits, seems just as happy to have you build community by dancing at the Saloon and piercing your nipple at Bionic Laboratory as by stuffing envelopes at OutFront Minnesota.
In this commercial spirit, Up runs a side business as a modeling agency, with Yoon and his partners representing the local talent in Up's fashion spreads. Yoon calls this "a vital part of our publication," explaining that being photographed for the magazine "gets people involved in the community.
"Content and advertising meld," he adds, "and we're really proud of that. Because if [queers] are an economic force, we're a more effective political force." Showing off Up, Yoon gleefully jabs his finger at an ad he designed for Hair Police and cries, "This is so whiz-bang! You can't even believe how whiz-bang I feel this ad is!"
Think globally, shop locally.
Another new publication on the newsrack is The Citizen Harold, a comic, biweekly newspaper featuring stories with headlines like "Nice Woman to Wed 'Total Jerk-Off,'" and "Accountant Considers Telling Wife About Gay Lover; Enjoys Crab Legs Instead." Besides news parodies, the paper includes an advice column ("Ask the Geographers"), horoscopes, and a skyway traffic report.
If it sounds a lot like Madison, Wisconsin's weekly paper The Onion--well, it looks a lot like it, too. Unlike The Onion, however, which provides at least one good laugh in every issue, The Citizen Harold's humor generally ranges from weak-smile to deep-groan. "Local Fat Guy Breathes Heavily" limps along for ten paragraphs with fictional quotes like "I feel sorry for his lungs."
The Citizen Harold is the brainchild of roommates and fellow University of Ohio geography department alums Jeff DeGrave, age 31, and Ryan Wells, age 28 ("a young 31 and a young 28," they emphasize). Though the two are remarkably industrious, it's a casual operation. As Wells discusses the publication, he folds his tall frame onto the sheet-covered futon in their living room and pops open a beer. With good humor, Wells reports that in the past, his jokes and writing were constantly rejected for publication by magazines. "Enough people say no and you decide to put out your own newspaper," he concludes.
"That way everything you do gets published," adds DeGrave.
"Well, Jeff gets about 90 percent of his stuff in anyway," Wells jokes.
Having taught themselves the art of publishing and ad sales, the pair produces the entire paper in their living room and at Kinko's, while DeGrave works a nine-to-five job for the state and Wells bartends at the Lexington in St. Paul. DeGrave and Wells say they've been overwhelmed with positive feedback, including nods from MTV and Miramax Pictures. And they've scored a biweekly radio engagement reading the paper on the Cities 97 morning show.
"Who knows, maybe we could get jobs writing in L.A. or something," DeGrave says optimistically.
"Of course, if it were up to us, we'd have more fun staying here and putting out a paper," adds Wells.
"Right," amends DeGrave. "But it would be fun to say 'No, thanks.'"