We all need a voice, a place to turn for the stories and breaking news we care about the most. Whether you lean right or left politically, there are plenty of outlets for news and entertainment. But for the LGBTQ communities, there hasn’t always been the same level of representation as there exists in the straight community. That would change in 2003 when Andy Towle created the website Towleroad.
After nearly 20-years, Towleroad is still going strong and providing a much-needed voice and perspective. But how did it all get started? Please, keep reading to learn more about the site’s founder and what keeps Towleroad successful!
Andy Towle is an American publisher, media commentator, and writer. Towle has Bachelor’s degrees in Art History and English from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. A talented writer, Towle received a number of fellowships from institutions such as Vassar College, Stanford University, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
From 1998 to 2002, he would work as an editor in chief for the North American gay men’s lifestyle magazine Genre. He also served as an editor at large for the gay travel magazine The Out Traveler. Prior to founding Towleroad, Andy Towle’s poetry would be published in The Yale Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Magazine, and The Paris Review.
After leaving the now-defunct Genre magazine, Towle would go on to found Towleroad in 2003. In 2005 he would partner with the founder of Out magazine Michale Goff. Goff would go on to become Towleroad CEO and co-owner.
Paving the Way
There was a boom of LGBTQ content shortly after Towleroad’s founding. The same year, the LOGO network launched the gay news outlet 365Gay. The site TheBacklot would launch soon after and focus on the lifestyle of bisexual and gay men.
The following years would see more prominent publications providing increased content for LGBTQ audiences. NBC News, BuzzFeed News, HuffPost, and others would all embrace this under-served community.
Towleroad Has Staying Power
Unfortunately, change and progress can be slow. The progress made in media representation during the early 2000s would begin to diminish. In 2011 365Gay would shut down, followed by TheBacklot in 2015. Around 2019, large-scale layoffs occurred at HuffPost and BuzzFeed. The LGBTQ departments at both companies would be the hardest hit.
Towleroad continued to thrive and would see peak numbers of over two million in 2016. Reader and viewership have been down in the years since. Still, they have continued to stay relevant by providing content that focuses on current issues and providing engaging content that their readers respond to.
Where is Towleroad’s Focus
The site provides cultural and timely content in an extensive range of interests. With sections for gay culture, politics, pop culture, media, entertainment, fashion, tech, and more, there’s going to be something to interest everyone.
Towleroad is unabashedly left of center. There is a liberal and LGBTQ-leaning bias. However, that does not mean they compromise on facts and accuracy. The site can be trusted to provide news and content that the LGBTQ community is interested in and cares about, but the truth will be told.
The site’s quality and integrity have been awarded as well. Towleroad has won several awards throughout its time, including a Webby for the best gay website. They were ranked at one point in the top 100 sites for politics and in the top 200 for entertainment coverage by the now-closed down ranking site Technorati.
The Future of Towleroad
What started as a way to fill a niche and provide a platform for the LGBTQ community to read and interact in that was lacking representation nearly twenty years ago has come to an end for its creator and founder. Andy Towle stepped away from Towleroad in February 2021.
The pioneering founder walked away from his creation feeling it was simply time to pursue other creative outlets. The site will continue under the guidance of longtime co-owner Michael Goff.
A Lasting Legacy
Towleroad has seen the cultural pendulum swing from progressive to conservative and back during its time. When the site started, there wasn’t an Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Youtube wasn’t even around yet! Don’t ask, don’t tell was still a military policy and same-sex couples had yet to get the right to marry. But Towleroad remained relevant by being informative, serious, and at times silly.
They have witnessed and reported on significant advances, and some setbacks, for the LGBTQ community. All signs point to that continuing!
Everyone deserves a voice and safe space. A place they can trust to provide them with stories and news they find interesting and care about. In a world often filled with ignorance and hate, a world with short attention spans, Towleroad has survived for nearly twenty years and provided that space. It’s fun, engaging, and informative; and should continue to serve the LGBTQ communities for years to come.