UNITE Magazine was launched in March of 2013 as the first magazine to cater to LGBTQI+ community in Nashville. This magazine is a bi-monthly publication that offers the best in arts, music, dining, travel, fitness, and more. This month’s issue pictured LBGT activist, Margaret Ellis, and featured stories and upcoming events catering to the LGBT group specifically. The magazine was created and published by Joey Amato, whom we had the pleasure of talking to and learning more about the publication from.
Joey, who spent time in Florida before coming to Nashville, released the first issue of UNITE in 2013 but says that he has been a part of LGBT media for about five to ten years. Upon arriving in Nashville, he was taken aback by the lack of LGBT friendly media, which further fueled his initiative to start the magazine. UNITE was founded with the goal of “uniting the community here [in Nashville]”. When we asked Joey how this magazine in particular is distinctive from other magazines like it he told us that “many magazines that fall into this category are very raunchy; not the kind of magazine you would be okay with showing your parents. UNITE magazine is one that you would read at a coffee shop or an airplane”, confirming that none of the content is risqué.
In terms of how UNITE has been received by the Nashville community as a whole, Joey thinks that things are going quite well. The bi-monthly publications get sent to a variety of vendors all over Nashville, including Frothy Monkey, Fido, Whole Foods, and even the Barnes and Noble at Vanderbilt. He also states that the fact that these companies request to sell this magazine is a testament to the increasingly progressive ideologies of the Nashville community. In addition to the Nashville edition of UNITE, Joey also started publications of the magazine in Indianapolis and is in the process of releasing a Cincinnati edition.
While Joey was not entirely sure who his target demographics would be when the magazine was first published he is now able to describe UNITE’s readership to be typically “male age 25 to 35 with 40 percent of those identifying as heterosexual.” The fact that 40 percent of the readers would identify as heterosexual was surprising, yet encouraging. Even though UNITE is first and foremost categorized as an LGBT interest magazine, the readership demographics show a strong pull from the “allied” community. Joey said that the audience here in Nashville “is different than it might be in Florida and is very diverse right now.” UNITE supports its allied community so much so that it had Margaret Ellis, a longtime friend of the LGBT community and burlesque photographer, as the cover story for UNITE’s most recent issue.
Stories in this month’s issue of UNITE touched on a number of different subjects. Some articles discussed politics, some highlighted LGBT friendly businesses, some even delved into trending music, books, and movies. All of the columns though, had a distinct theme emphasizing unity in the community and social inclusiveness. One of our favorite articles featured in the magazine followed a few members of the Nashville Grizzlies rugby team. The Grizzlies are also a social club of sorts that claims members from all different backgrounds. To join, there is absolutely no background in rugby required, which allows men with a variety of different skill levels to join the team.
Another topic that UNITE does a really great job of highlighting is local ways to get involved in LGBT friendly events. For example, the Nashville Grizzlies just finished their sixth annual Red Dress Rampage. This event humorously combines a pub crawl and a fun run in the Five Points area of East Nashville. What makes this event unique is that everyone participating is encouraged to wear as much red as they can. Other fun ways to get involved in the LGBT community that UNITE continuously advocates for include Out Central, HRC Volunteer Dinners, and Chamber of Commerce Mixers. Joey also was quick to highlight the magazine’s first anniversary dinner, which is being planned for in March.
One aspect of the magazine that Joey is really proud of is the number of high profile personalities he has been able to release on the cover of UNITE. For example, Dolly Parton appeared on the cover of the May/June 2014 issue, while Carrie Underwood starred in the July/August 2013 edition. UNITE was able to get off to a fantastic start when it featured Pink on the cover of the first edition, and is clearly still going strong with LeAnn Rimes on the cover of the issue of UNITE getting released this week. For Joey, having these artists featured in this magazine not only draws in a larger audience who may not have otherwise had any interest in the publication, but validates UNITE as a serious periodical that plans to stay in the Nashville community for a long time. Overall, UNITE magazine is doing wonders for the LGBTQI+ community in Nashville, and we cannot wait to see what Joey and his writers have in store for us in the future.