A look back at PQ Monthly’s first year

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Here, a few of PQ Monthly’s staff share thoughts on why they work for an LGBTQ newspaper, their favorite memories of PQ’s first year, and some gratitude for their colleagues. Most of all, though, we all have to thank you — the person reading this right now. You, the reader, are exactly why this paper exists; you are the reason we stay up late writing, make so many calls to sign up advertisers, partner with so many community organizations. We do all of this for you because we love you, and because you deserve it. So, from the bottom of our collective heart: thank you.

“This last year has probably been the most stressful and the most professionally satisfying of my life, not to mention the most jam-packed with fascinating new people and experiences. Yet what stands out to me are the quiet moments at my computer, editing articles or putting the finishing touches on an issue before we send it to press. I have shed tears (some brought on by a particularly moving piece of writing, others by a particularly daunting pile of work that only seems manageable after a good cry); I have felt overwhelming, delicious, deadly-sin-level pride in the quality of what we produce; and I have been deeply humbled by the amazing talents of the people with whom I work. This is not something I say lightly, as these days people usually seem to confuse being knocked down a peg with having their ego stroked. (You know, the ‘I am so humbled by this huge honor you bestowed on me for being awesome’ kind of humility.). No, I truly mean these folks are so talented they make me feel like a drooling dunce at times. They push me to be better, and their dedication, passion, and honesty are shining examples of what I love so much about this community.” — Julie Cortez, Editor-in-Chief

66700_530418340315694_663077401_n“When our old digs closed, I remember feeling like the world came crashing down around me. Then, weeks later, this Brilliant Media team came swooping in, and I wondered how the hell this weird, wonderful family would work. I left our first meeting, which took place in the back of a North Portland coffee shop, still wondering if such a daunting task — launching an entirely new print publication — could actually happen. With this cast of characters? The more we met, the more I realized, bit by bit, we were on to something good. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of our city and state’s most beloved leaders — from Kendall Clawson to Michael Kaplan to Byron Beck — and it’s been incredible to see a newspaper inspire such community involvement. From people rallying around us, to people from all walks wanting to make their voices heard — it finally feels like we’re a paper of the people, for the people. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true. I know we have a long way to go — but it’s satisfying to be able to say we’ve only just begun.” — Daniel Borgen, Staff Writer

“The bare honest truth is that being a member of the PQ group has meant that I am a now a member of an extended family that means the world to me. We have laughed, we have cried, we have supported each other and we have had our little tiffs like any other normal family. I am involved with people who share a belief that we can all make a difference, that what we do is worthwhile, and that by their bravery in both their personal and professional lives have broadened my boundaries every day. In short, this last year has given me color, sparkle, wit, and sincerity. The only downside has been that due to all this fabulousness in my daily life, it has become nigh impossible to get a date with a heterosexual male that can impress me in the least.” — Lynda Wilkinson, Sales Representative

“My hallmark moment was around Pride of this last year — I realized that we really have a strong team. I had been working on my own for a long time, and realizing just how solid our team was made me choke up all teary-eyed with joy. I work with such an honest, good group of people, and I understood that we can really take PQ a long way. I got ultra-motivated, even more so than I was in the beginning, working alongside such wonderful people. I was, and am, truly proud.” — Gabriela Kandizora, Principal & Business Development

224908_530415170316011_2124439316_n“The teamwork and camaraderie of our group is amazing; we’re all on the same page to a large extent. Everyone is so fully behind the mission, and working towards the common cause; it feels sort of like a family, this integral team that wants to put out this publication for the community and do it well. I love it. It’s really more than a job to me.” — Larry Lewis, Sales Representative

“At the very first PQ Press Party, I wore a pair of cufflinks which had belonged to my Great-Uncle Rhett. They have quite a backstory: Rhett lived secretly as a gay man from the 1950s onwards in cities like Atlanta and San Francisco. He didn’t come out to the family until shortly before he passed away, which was when I was very young, and even then it was never something that was talked about in the family. Right after the press party, I misplaced the cufflinks (I blame the champagne). Just a few weeks ago, right in the middle of the harried time that we on the editorial team calls ‘Deadline Fever,’ I found the cufflinks again. I was struck by the fact that the work that we do would absolutely blow Rhett’s mind — I doubt that he would have ever imagined that his grand-nephew could be out in the world as a gay man the way that I get to be, or that a paper like PQ could cover the LGBTQ community and its concerns in this way. I understood that there is something really historically significant to this project, that it could only occur in a space like this, in a time like this, through the hard work of a team like this — that we’re fulfilling the wildest dreams of so many generations of queer people who could maybe never imagine something like this existing. It became personal at that point — that when it comes down to it, I’m doing this for Rhett, for his friends and his lovers and everyone who dreamed that someday life for people in our community could be like this, because without them, we couldn’t be here today.” — Nick Mattos, Staff Writer

“I used to believe that a job could offer either compelling work or pleasant colleagues (never both). Experience bore this out — I’d had “career” jobs with intolerable work environments and lackluster retail jobs with stellar coworkers. But in this past year working with the fine folks at PQ I’ve learned that it is possible to have the best of both worlds. The work we do — providing insightful and engaging coverage of issues affecting LGBTQ communities — is compelling and important. And the people I have the honor of working with — let me just say that I look forward to meetings (and we’re talking about some long meetings). I am constantly inspired by the passion and dedication of the PQ team. Whether that looks like Melanie making appearances at three or more community events in a night, Daniel crafting witty columns and moving stories after a 50-hour work week, Julie spending her birthday editing our words (every year!), Nick digging deep for an angle no one else would have considered, Chris working weekends to wrap it all up in a beautiful bow, or the ad sales team doing that dirty work so that we can take home a paycheck and keep on putting out the paper. We’re not just a team, we’re a family. When I came out as trans last month, their first response was, ‘Congrats! How can we help?’ It’s the same attitude we approach the community with, and it makes me proud to do what we do.” — Erin Rook, Web Editor and Writer