Exit marks its 300th issue


exit_celebrates_300th_issue_sa_only_gay_monthlySouth Africa’s longest running monthly LGBT publication has just released its ground breaking 300th issue.

Exit newspaper has been informing the country’s LGBT community since it was founded in 1982 by GASA (the Gay Association of South Africa), with Editor Dawid Moolman at the helm.

After about three years it became privately owned and was named Link/Skakel. The publication was run by Henk Botha and then Gerry Davidson, who sold it to current Editor Gavin Hayward in 1995.

Before the rise of the internet, and the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Exit was one of the few ways members of the community were able to stay in touch with local and international LGBT news – and one another! Readers also devoured the newspaper to find out which bars and clubs were open and where to find them.

For many in the closet, Exit was the only gateway to the community, especially for those living outside the major urban areas. The mere act of stepping up to the till to buy a copy at the local CNA was a brave “coming out” rite of passage.

In the 300th issue, Tim Trengove-Jones wrote that, “Any cultural historian wishing to trace key developments in LGBTIQ history in South Africa has to consult Exit.”

He noted that the publication has covered the rise, fall and fragmentation of Prides in Johannesburg, the devastation of the HI virus and the legal and constitutional challenges and victories that have seen the cementing of our rights in South Africa.

Despite the growing domination of digital media, Exit is going strong and is still found at clubs and venues around the country for free or for sale in CNAs and bookstores.

“Media’s move to digital has only really become pronounced in the last three years or so. I am very proud to have done well with Exit for a long time,” said Hayward. “Needless to say, I could not have done it alone. There are some very significant long-term contributors like Tim Trengove-Jones and Donna Smith, and my partner, Paul, has always been very supportive.”

Hayward told Mambaonline that he is proud to have maintained the newspapers’ focus on the “political rights and position of LGBT people in South Africa.”

Asked who Exit’s audience is today, he replied: “Exit’s readership probably ranges in age from 16 to 86, from high school students to at least one well known Constitutional Court judge.”

Hayward continued: “We haven’t gone the ‘lifestyle’ route which might have given us more advertisers. We print once a month, and print media in the digital age has limitations. We have tried to bridge the divide with a website, a Facebook page and group, and a Twitter handle.”

He noted that one area of the newspaper that has seen a decline in recent years is the once very busy Personals section.

“Some people even advertised anonymously and replies to their ads came via our office. This seems very old fashioned now with all the instant hook-up sites that there are, but there are still couples around who met up through the Exit Personals.”

As to what the future may bring, Hayward said that “it’s time for aspirant media moguls” to make him an offer for the newspaper. “I’ve been at this for long enough,” he added with a chuckle.

Mambaonline congratulates Exit for this milestone achievement. We wish it many more years of continuing to make its way to the printers every month.

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