Kent State U. Gay Student Mag Delayed, But Not Derailed

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday May 2, 2011

Students at Kent State University stood up for the latest issue of their gay magazine, Fusion, which will reach newsagents later than originally intended because it took the magazine's staff four tries to find a printer who would take the project on, on April 29.

A printer finally agreed to produce the paper version of the magazine, but not before the new issue had been turned down by three other firms. The refusals were due to the magazine containing the headline "Gender Fuck'd." The headline belonged to a provocative photo essay, according to comments made to a school organization, Campus Progress, by the magazine's vice president of sales and marketing, David Pilcher. The Huffington Post reported that the photo essay featured cross-dressing models.

The online version of the magazine did not contain any full frontal male nudity, the article said, though one model appeared in a skintight leotard.

It was that photo, along with the F-bomb, that triggered the magazine's usual printer, Freeport Press, to reject the issue. The printer asked for changes, including the deletion of the photo.

The magazine's producers wouldn't hear of it, reported college radio station WKSU. The article indicated that standing by the magazine was a matter of principle.

"I think we did the right thing by standing up for the First Amendment," said the editor of the Spring issue, Raytevia Evans. The magazine is published once per semester.

But one company that turned the magazine away indicated that the magazine's use of words that are used as anti-gay slurs made it unacceptable to them for printing.

"Generally those are harmful words," Fred Cooper of Hess Print Solutions told "We don't generally do profanity."

Still another printing concern would have been willing to undertake the job--if there had been time to vet the magazine's content with the company's workers. That's the policy followed by Davis Graphic Communication Solutions, the third company the magazine's publishers approached.

"Davis GCS also could not produce the project within the time constraints requested by Kent State University due production capacity issues," said the firm's head, Bob Ellis.

The fourth time was a charm, the article reported. The new edition of Fusion finally was accepted by Printing Concepts, whose president, Ron Taggart, issued a statement framing the job as an exercise in first amendment rights, the article said.

"Printing Concepts advocates freedom of speech and the extension of that right to all persons or organizations," Taggart's statement said. "They accepted the Fusion magazine project based on this constitutional right."

The magazine's website proved student publishers knew the game as well as the adults. "After being denied by three printers, Fusion magazine has finally gone to print," text at the site read. "To get an early taste of the content that has been causing so much controversy, check out our latest issue before picking up your own personal copy."

One article visible in the table of contents was titled "Fags, Dykes & Queers." Another was called "It's a Fag Hag's World." The photo essay was not available for viewing online.

College magazines containing adult content are nothing new. Boston University students produce a publication called Boink. In 2004, even Harvard University students got into the act, starting a publication called H Bomb that featured articles about sexuality and photos of nude models, exciting the international press in the process. Some condemned the inaugural edition of the magazine as "pornography," though others hailed it as an example of free expression.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.