By Bill Orovan, Sept. 25, 2014.
Wow! It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since David Stewart and I spent untold hours with a 128K (that’s K, not MB) Macintosh, printing out and pasting articles with hot wax onto boards that we took to the printer, giving a rundown of the colors we wanted (ever see a color wheel?) to a color cutter, who hand cut screens for each individual color’s shade and hue (or having terribly expensive separations made for all photos), and then making sure it all came out the way we wanted by doing tedious press checks before personally delivering the copies all over town and mailing them out to as far as Australia. Websites were not invented yet, since there was virtually no Internet available. The average computer didn’t have the capacity to utilize the web, even if it had been available. It’s amazing what modern technology and a fabulous staff has done to transform our little magazine into the gorgeous and informative issue you now hold in your hand or access online.
Aside from technology, many things are radically different now as well. Thank goodness we don’t have to go to weekly funerals to mourn our friends who have succumbed to the ravages of AIDS. When we began, not even the most optimistic person of our community thought that we would see marriage equality in our lifetime. Openly LGBT people did not serve in government, were not in mainstream media, nor even in the entertainment industry (it’s amazing how many people thought Liberace was just flamboyant!)
As we inch ever closer to basic human rights for all, we are proud of the part Echo has played in this endeavor. As a LGBT publication, we were the first to have full color glossy pages (you have to look professional to be respected); the first to get interviews with the mayor and the police chief; the first to enter in competition with all our straight contemporaries in the Arizona Press Club (and the first to win the highest award in our division, the Community Journalist of the Year (which we have either won or placed second for eight years); the first to feature two men kissing on the cover (in 1990, no less!); the first to do a feature on the local jail system and gay inmates, shot in the downtown jail with the help of Sheriff Joe; and others that space does not allow me to mention. Echo was instrumental in getting 5,000 people to attend a city council meeting (in the early ’90s) in a show of force to demand our rights in city jobs and accommodations.
We have also shown our resilience. When an arsonist burned our office building down to the ground — literally — we not only picked up the pieces and put out the next issue on time, but also held a benefit fundraiser for the fire department and handed them $4,000. Our readers also came to our rescue and brought in their back issues (some with complete sets of almost six years) to renew our archives, which were totally lost.
So, over the past 25 years we have been a major force in the growth and maturity of our community, and you, in turn, have made our success possible. We thank each and every one of our readers for your loyalty to us and to our advertisers, without which we couldn’t have succeeded. I also want to acknowledge, with the utmost respect, and thank our staff, present and past, for being both pioneers and perfectionists.
As we draw our strength from the past, the future looks amazingly optimistic. We’re so happy you’re joining us for the journey.