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The Seattle Lesbian’s Sarah Toce

The Seattle Lesbian’s Sarah Toce

Sarah, we love The Seattle Lesbian and enjoy your “Top News” daily emails. Tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in online media.

ST: Thank you for reading The Seattle Lesbian and for sharing those kind words. Looking back, I cannot say there was ever a time when I did not write. The initiation into media (both online and print) was extremely organic for me personally as well as professionally. When you’re meant to be doing something, I truly believe all the pieces fall into place at the right time.

How did The Seattle Lesbian come about? And how did you develop such a huge following in such a short time?

ST: We launched in October 2010, but really started making our mark about six months later when the national and international media platforms began circulating our content, reports and interviews.

The thing that I think speaks to our readers most is that we are universal in our approach and delivery. You do not have to be a lesbian to read The Seattle Lesbian. You can be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning…a human being (imagine that)…we are all the same regardless of label. All of us want to be recognized, supported and feel that we have a place to hang our hat at the end of the day. For many, over one million annual readers, that place is The Seattle Lesbian.

There was no strategic plan to reach one million readers in one year…it just happened. Intuition and a goal to help the community…those were the two things I knew for sure when the magazine launched. Perhaps it was simply time for this magazine to be born and, perhaps, I was the one who heard the call. Either way, here we are now…and we’re not going anywhere.

I had a nice chat with you and Charlene Strong the other day—you two are very inspiring! How did you happen to team up?

ST: Actually, I interviewed her right before The Seattle Lesbian launched! It was for another publication I was writing for entirely. They asked me to step in as the editor for a short span and I was so inspired by her story and what she endured that even though I flew down to L.A. for editorial work, I interviewed her from Seattle so that I could include her piece.

After her interview ran and The Seattle Lesbian launched, we met up again and she was very interested in becoming a part of this little paper that could. That right there was the start of an awesome editorial team. I cannot imagine doing this work now without her. We compliment each other very nicely and make a pretty hardcore team. Our strengths and weaknesses definitely balance out to a steady flow and have become the catalyst for a remarkable pairing.

You have so many great celebrity interviews under your belt. Can you tell us a funny story  about one or two of those interviews?

ST: My, oh, my, if I told you certain things I’d never have another person talk to me again! Let’s see what I can share…well, I’ll give you this: Lily Tomlin was as sweet as sweet could be and it was the one interview where I was a bit nervous – doesn’t happen to me very often. Joy Behar was extremely genuine and we talked a lot about Scrabble (we’re both addicted), and Sarah McLachlan was kind, generous with her time and very warm.

What has stood out for me most, though, after this past year of interviewing HIV/AIDS pioneers is the work I did with the CDC, Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), chatting with Ryan White’s mom (Jeanne Ginder-White), and having a truly unforgettable off-the-record dinner with Mr. Cleve Jones. That I will never tell you about!

What can we expect from TSL in 2012?

ST: There are so many exciting announcements right around the corner…so close you could almost taste them! You’ll have to wait and see, though. I promise it won’t be long…

Sarah Toce is the editor-in-chief of Seattle’s only lesbian-fronted magazine – The Seattle Lesbian.  She recently wrapped up more than 10 interviews for Windy City Times that will appear in an upcoming book chronicling the HIV/AIDS epidemic at 30 years. The entire HIV/AIDS series has been nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. In 2011, Toce contributed 20 profiles of prominent African-American icons who have had the courage to publicly claim their place in the LGBT community. The result was the book “Black, Gifted and Gay” – now for sale on Amazon. As an activist, Toce works alongside national and state level organizations to advocate for marriage equality, HIV/AIDS education and prevention strategies and a number of other vital community-based initiatives.

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