Frustrated with the minimal and often sensationalised content on the newsstands, this Dutch magazine aims to tell the authentic stories behind the LGBT community
It all started two years ago in Berlin. Dorien Rozing and her friends were soaking up the summer sun reading L’Homo, a popular Dutch glossy that is purportedly aimed at them – the LGBT community. Yet much to her annoyance, Dorien didn’t recognise herself in any of the magazine’s content, which was filled with ripped male bodies and pricey designer gear.
Instead of simply throwing the magazine away and forgetting about the whole ordeal, she decided to take matters into her own hands and create a new magazine. L’HTBQ – a title crafted with a wink towards L’Homo and one which Dorien admittedly struggles to pronounce herself – aims to show the “real” stories of the LGBT community while in a glossy format that can appeal to the masses.
We spoke to Dorien to find out more about the magazine, its values and why the Netherlands, despite its liberal reputation, still has some way to go in terms of LGBT acceptance.
The magazine is aimed at showing the real side to the LGBT community. How are they currently portrayed in Dutch media?
Dorien Rozing: Admittedly, there are some nice stories currently being told. Transgender seems to be very “hot” right now. At the moment there is a TV programme on Dutch television that explores what it’s like to be transgender. While it aims to be a progressive show, it doesn’t go into much depth and stops at portraying transgender people as a rarity. We, on the other hand, try to ask more meaningful questions and raise awareness in a positive way.
Our head photographer, who is also transgender, made a beautiful photo series about trans men. On television they tend to focus on trans women, but he created a photo series after these men had their operations and focused on their masculinity instead of exploring what it’s like to no longer have breasts. The pictures are close-ups and show their scars, but they’re real trans men. That’s also one of our strengths as a publication – we know the community very well and have direct access to different people and stories.
What are the attitudes towards LGBT people in Holland?
Dorien Rozing: I think it can be better. Of course, Dutch people’s attitudes towards the LGBT community are pretty tolerant when you compare it to the rest of the world. But people say that Amsterdam is the gay capital of the world, which hasn’t been the case for some time now. It has become a bit rougher. While I can’t pinpoint what has caused this to happen, it is clear that this generation no longer has a need for separate gay bars and clubs. While you could argue that this is a positive development, it will also lead to gay culture disappearing. It’s sad that it seems to be dissolving.
Why is this magazine necessary and important?
Dorien Rozing: It’s telling stories that go further than focusing on the usual accounts of coming out as a gay or queer individual. It’s crucial for the community to see itself in an honest way and represented in this glossy format. It’s also important for mainstream audiences to see this kind of magazine represented on the newsstands, as it changes perceptions. The magazine is based around real stories and real people. While it might not be their world, we always try to make it not too much of an inside story, and make it interesting to people who are on the outside. It makes for an interesting and important combination, because there is no other magazine who tries to achieve this.
What would you like people to think when reading the magazine?
Dorien Rozing: I would like people to recognise themselves in it, but I do believe that you can never truly speak for the entire community as they are so incredibly diverse. The magazine is something that we love creating, but we are realistic in the sense that it’s probably too niche to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. However, we have found that the magazine has come into the hands of people who wouldn’t have usually picked it up and read it. So there are quite a few people who have shown interest in what we’re producing.
“It is clear that this generation no longer has a need for separate gay bars and clubs. While you could argue that this is a positive development, it will also lead to gay culture disappearing. It’s sad that it seems to be dissolving”
What would you like to achieve?
Dorien Rozing: World domination, of course! In all seriousness, it would be nice to gain the recognition of those who aren’t directly involved in the LGBT world. We don’t want to circulate only in our own community and are eager to grow. In an ideal situation, we’d be prominently placed next to the L’Homo on every Dutch newsstand.
How are you planning to develop the magazine over time?
Dorien Rozing: While we were originally inspired by L’Homo, we now want to really put our own stamp on it. This is why we would like to start exploring edgier topics and really test the boundaries of what we can cover within our community. We’re also looking to expand in terms of coverage. This year, Amsterdam will be holding EuroPride, which is a pan-European international event aimed at celebrating the LGBT community, so we’ll be putting together an English edition and sell it in Berlin, London and Madrid.
The first magazine was created with the help of funds from gay charities, but I’m hoping to move away from that and become more independent. While I know the whole industry is currently struggling, we are determined to become well known with big brands and stand on our own feet.