Linda Riley interview
Award-winning lesbian publisher Linda Riley on the secret of her success
London has its fair share of lesbian entrepreneurs. But few are as visible or as community-minded as Linda Riley. As the co-owner of Square Peg Media, she's a major player in a branch of publishing dominated by gay men.
She started out as a property developer, finally switching paths in 2001 when she bought a stake in the monthly lesbian magazine g3. Together with partner Sarah Garret, she built up g3, winning the coveted Stonewall Award for Publication of the Year in 2009. She also launched the men's monthly Out in The City, as well the quarterly recruitment magazine Out at Work. And she's not stopping there.
The gay press is dominated by men. What's your secret?
'I could see there was a gap in the market. A lot of gay men were reading g3. They liked the format. They liked the fact that we were very much a community magazine. And we were attracting the kind of advertising you don't often see in the gay free press - financial companies, corporate advertising, property advertising. So it seemed only natural to take the lessons we learned on g3 and launch a men's magazine.'
When was that?
'We launched Out in The City five years ago. Everyone said it wouldn't work, that gay men wouldn't read a magazine without explicit sexual content. But that's because it hadn't really been done before. For a magazine to work, it has to have a unique selling point. We have really strong brands advertising with us. They don't have a problem with the gay market. They have a problem with explicit sexual content. Personally, I don't have anything against magazines that have escort ads. I just think there should be a variety of publications out there.'
You also produce events, like the Diversity Careers Show.
'We started publishing Out at Work in 2009. It's the only LGBT recruitment magazine, and the show really grew out of that. The first show was in October 2009. It just seemed the right time. A lot of big businesses were talking about diversity. It was the big buzz word. And then Credit Suisse came on board as our main sponsor and it just took off from there. Now the magazine and the show feed into each other. It's great for employers, because it's a way of letting people know that they take equality and diversity seriously. And it's good for people who are looking for work and want to know how gay-friendly a prospective employer is.'
Last year you launched The Alternative Families Show.
What prompted that?
'We're parents. We have twins. Two four-year-old girls. We live in Westminster, and when we take our kids to school we're very conscious of being the only gays at the gates! So we had the idea of putting on a show where gay and lesbian parents could come together and share their experiences.'
So what's next?
'We have the Big Gay Lifestyles Show in October at the Grand Connaught Rooms, sponsored by Google. And we have a new publication for schools, Out Class. We don't make any money on it. We do it because it's something we care about. There are still major problems facing young lesbians and gay men. On the one hand, you have big businesses taking gay equality on board, but you still have kids being bullied at school or kicked out of their home just because they're gay. That's why we're proud to support charities like the Albert Kennedy Trust. I think as a company we have a responsibility to give something back to the community'.