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End of an Era: Michigan's Out Post Magazine Bids Farewell to LGBTQ+ Readers

34 years after his first DIY issue, Steve Culver publishes his last article

Jason Collins

Out Post publisher Steve Culver bid farewell to Michigan’s LGBTQ+ readers with a final June 2024 issue bearing the headline, “This first draft of history is finally put on the shelf.” The cover features a selection of front pages from the publication’s 625 issues.

Culver launched what would later become Out Post in January 1990, initially published under the name Ten Percent. For the next two years, Ten Percent published weekly newsprint issues, until a brief hiatus in 1995. Ten Percent then resumed as Out Post. “I had always wanted to resume publishing after my hiatus, so I came back with a little bit more experience under my belt. That’s how Out Post started.”

He adds: “I remember taking it to Kinko’s. That was the start of it."

Culver told Pride Source that running his own publication came naturally to him given his journalism background, and what started as a 12-page newsletter grew into one of Michigan’s longest-running LGBTQ+ publications, an accomplishment Culver reflects on proudly.

From the start, Out Post offered something for everyone and a broad range of topics.
While Out Post originally covered Ann Arbor’s LGBTQ+ community, it quickly expanded to cover LGBTQ+ events throughout Southeast Michigan. The community responded positively to the publication, as Culver carefully covered sensitive topics impacting LGBTQ+ people alongside more lighthearted local coverage. Each issue contained an extensive list of upcoming queer events and resources in Michigan, interviews with local and national figures, and pages of photos featuring community members at work and play. Culver's goal was to create a publication that appealed to a wide audience, even when he wasn't keen on what made it into the publication.



“Right until the end, I ran a horoscope column," he recalls. "The journalist in me hated wasting space on a horoscope, but I also knew that a lot of people enjoyed that."

Dave Garcia, a devoted reader of Out Post and friend of Culver who served as the executive director of Affirmations LGBTQ+ for several years until 2023, reflects on his experience reading the publication. “I was involved in LGBTQ+ politics for a long time and Out Post was always there," Garcia says. “Steve did his best to try to shed light on issues that were affecting the community.”  

In the early years, Culver had a team of freelancers and other people helping him, but for a long time, it was only Culver serving as reporter and photographer. Despite his homebody tendencies, Culver would often wait until 2 a.m. at some places to hand out copies of Out Post to bargoers. Back then, he says, “We were still cutting and pasting and having a delivery driver from the printer come to my home. Whereas today, you just send a PDF file.”

Garcia remembers reading these early issues. “You got to hand it to a guy that worked that hard across the entire region [Michigan] for 30-plus years. It’s certainly a labor of love for him.” 

Garcia has fond memories about the difference Out Post made in Michigan's LGBTQ+ community. He specifically recalls that when the Mpox virus broke out in 2022, Out Post was quick to inform the community and advocate for vaccine rollout.

Out Post also played a role in shining light on a scandal involving former Affirmations Executive Director Susan Erspamer, who resigned after a public custody battle with her ex-wife, where Erspamer's attorney used an anti-LGBTQ+ law as part of her claim against her spouse and after an audit report published by Out Post publicly revealed financial mismanagement at the organization.

Garcia says Out Post would talk about things “when the mainstream media [didn't]," including ongoing coverage of the importance of amending Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Acts from the very beginning days of the publication.

Looking ahead, Culver plans to donate Out Post archives as well as photos and newsletters from his publishing career to local historical libraries. Since the announcement of Out Post ceasing publication has been made public, Culver says that "it's very heartwarming to see all the comments on social media."  

Readers can still access Out Post's digital archived copies dating back to January 2010 on the Out Post Facebook page. The final June copy of the Out Post can be found at the usual distribution locations.



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