25 Voices

By KJ Philp, Sept. 23, 2014.

Throughout this year, and especially the month of September, we’ve been celebrating 25 years of Echo — from our history and headlines to our new look and future.

This milestone is important to us for so many reasons, and it means something different to each one of us.

But we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for you — our readers, writers, advertisers, family, community leaders and organizations — and it is because of you that we’ve been afforded the opportunity to celebrate this momentous occasion.

As our small way of acknowledging that YOU are the most critical part of our history, we turned the floor over to you and asked, “What has Echo meant to you over the years?” Here is what you had to say:

Echo has been instrumental in advancing the rights of our local LGBT community. I was fortunate to have been interviewed countless times and selected as Echo’s first Man of the Year in 1994 and among the first entrants to the Hall of Fame. Echo, thanks for all the good work. — Bill MacDonald

The Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, October 2001 issue was my first exposure to the Phoenix LGBT community. Not only did that same issue assist me during my 2003 move to Phoenix, but successfully impressed upon me that initial connection to our LGBT community which I will never forget! Congratulations, Echo Magazine, on 25 wonderful years! — Ted Kirby

Echo has been a beacon of support and love to Aunt Rita’s Foundation over the years. Through Echo’s support we have successfully advertised several events that fundraise for 16 nonprofit HIV/AIDS organizations in Arizona. Thank you, Echo!

– Aunt Rita’s Foundation

The magazine has been a mentor to me over the years. It was the first place I was ever published as a journalist, while I was in school. Echo introduced me to the gay community through its multifaceted lens when I was 18. I am now a working freelance journalist in New York City and it all started with Echo. I could not be more grateful for the opportunities the magazine offered me.

– Anthony Dewitt

Growing up during the ’60s Civil Rights battles, I saw injustice toward minorities before I realized I was gay. Once I accepted that, I began to experience similar injustice. Echo has been my way to use my skills to contribute to the fight for equality. – Bruce Christian

I’ll never forget seeing my picture in the Echo for the first time! It was a candid photo at an Academy Awards party in the mid-’90s. “Wow,” I thought, “I have made it!” Through the years, I have had the opportunity to appear more frequently, by contributing celebrity interviews, appear ON THE COVER, and even offer advice via the “Ask Barbra” column. Truth be told, the “Ask Barbra” column reached more people than I will ever be able to reach with nightclub and bar gigs. Echo gave me a voice, and it was a wonderful experience — learning to use that voice. Thank you, Echo– Barbra Seville

Without Echo, we would have no grasp on Arizona’s queer history. Their archives reveal that the people who championed for gay rights when it was the hardest are the reason it’s easy to be queer in this city today. I am so grateful to Echo for documenting our journey. – Grace Bolyard

Being a part of the Echo family for over 23 years has been a privilege and an honor as a contributing photographer and past general manger. I respect Echo for its continued quality and commitment to the Arizona community. Congratulations on 25 years! I’m looking forward to the future of the magazine and what it brings to our community. Thank You, Bill Orovan, for your trust, support, loyalty and most of all your friendship.

– Gregg Edelman

I stumbled upon Echo Magazine seven years ago, shortly after coming out. When I picked up my first copy I recognized this magazine was the connection that bridged our community together and from there I was hooked. Echo has kept me connected and informed on the issues that matter and has been that consistent outlet that I could rely on to show me all the fabulous aspects of our community that would otherwise get unrecognized. To me Echo means “ohana,” dependable and always there for you. Happy 25 years to our neighborhood voice! – Donald Smith

It has been beyond a pleasure to collaborate with Echo these past several years in making our annual Pride in the Pines festival in Flagstaff as successful as it has been. I can honestly say I have NEVER worked with an organization as professional, collaborative and effective as Echo has been. Please continue being the voice for equality and thank you for being a proud supporter of all Prides in Arizona. – Kathryn Jim

Echo magazine is my “go-to” guide for all things community, whether it’s local or national news, Echo keeps me current. From politics to restaurant, book and movie reviews, and everything in between, Echo has it covered. Especially meaningful to me is their inclusion of the Transgender community. The magazine brings us together and keeps us informed and I believe we are a stronger community because of that. Thank you, Echo, I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years brings! – Julian Melson

I arrived in Phoenix from Canada two weeks before Valentine’s Day in 1996 onbusiness and decided to take a walk one morning through Old Town Scottsdale, close to where I was staying. I came across Echo Magazine outside a place called BS West. I saw an ad that BS West was hosting a Valentine’s Day Barbecue that coming Sunday. I ended up meeting the nicest guy; he introduced me to all his friends and made me feel welcome. Glad I grabbed that Echo Magazine; we’ll be celebrating our 19th Valentine’s Day together this coming year.” – Robbie Marshall

Echo started my career and was this writer’s way in to LGBT activism (via insane late night typing frenzies), which was hard to explain to my parents. Whether on leather, drag, gay dads or school safety, I wrote to help people — all LGBT people — make Phoenix their home. And I interviewed Bea Arthur! – Matthew Heil

As a transplant from East Lansing, Mich., (population: 48,579), Phoenix and its 4.3 million people were intimidating to say the least. Upon my arrival I only knew one person who was pretty introverted, so asking him about the LGBT community proved frustrating. Then I discovered Echo Magazine — a beacon of hope for navigating bars, events, social clubs, etc. — without which I’d probably still be sitting on the couch with my introverted friend. Thank you, Echo,for showing me around … right into your headquarters, where I now am employed. Congratulations on 25 years and cheers to 25 more! – Christopher M. Steele

Echo Magazine is an extraordinary publication for extraordinary people throughextraordinary times. My expectation is that the next 25 years will be more amazing. – Charlotte M. Strayhorne

When we first launched ONE Community six years ago we reached out to all of the LGBT businesses and organizations that we were aware of. Because we were new and different, many folks didn’t return our call; Echo did. From the get-go we believed that one of the most important keys to our success, and the LGBT community’s success, was collaboration. I am proud to say that Echo shared our collaborative spirit and continues to do so today. Congratulations on being true Change Agents and thank you for paving the way for so many businesses and organizations who have risen in the past 25 years in large part because you led the way.

– Angela Hughey

Echo is more than just an LGBTQ publication; it is the cornerstone of the Arizona LGBTQ community. Over the past 25 years we have seen great strides as a community and Echo has been there every step of the way. Echo has something for everyone, from the political junkie, movie buff, gym rat and bar fly. I loved being a columnist for Echo, an iconic piece of Phoenix. – Meg Sneed

The first time I came across Echo, May 2007, I was a closeted and miserable Mormon, scared to come to terms with who I knew I was inside. I had just moved into the “Gayborhood” and, in reading Echo, realized this community was full of people just like me who found their happiness and were proudly living their lives. I enjoyed keeping up with all the events and it wasn’t long before I felt like I was part of the community. Thanks to Echo (and a lot of supportive friends), I gathered the courage to finally accept who I am and have become happier than I ever imagined possible!

– Allen Beach

Echo has always been a wonderful partner to HERO in terms of communicating with the community. Echo has steadfastly covered issues of equality and human rights and how they impacted all of us — and Echo has allowed all of us to have a voice, a view and a seat at the table. – HERO

As an active duty service member I had to hide who I was, as a child I was taught who I was wrong, as a music manager I was told no one would respect me. But I know there is a place I can exist and won’t be judged, a place I can be me ... Echo Magazine. –Mia Bee

I will never forget my time working at Echo. It was truly an honor to contribute to our LGBT community alongside the amazing staff. Paul Braun, Buddy Early, Steve Schemmel, Jorge Sandoval, Richard Stevens, Tim McBride, Tim DePlanche, Travis Hussey, Bill Orovan, and the rest of the staff will forever be my family.

– Erin Gregory

Echo gave us the opportunity last summer to tell our story, which has started conversations with individuals that we never imagined having. People have approached us, simply because they recognized us from the Echo article and they have shared with us their own stories about how our story personally impacted their lives. – Melanie Puskar-Blakely and Tonya Blakely

I have lived in Phoenix for over 20 years and have seen many changes to our community. One of the only constants in my time here has been Echo Magazine and the job they have done to spotlight the good, the bad and the entertaining. I honestly cannot imagine the Phoenix community without Echo Magazine!

– Joseph Gesullo

Here’s a little haiku that I feel sums up, for me, what Echo has meant through the years:

Pageants and food porn,

Opinions, news, kings and queens,

Echo brings it home

– Freddy Prinze Charming

Echo Magazine has done an excellent job at informing the community about things that matter like social issues, politics, community resources and acknowledging people who have helped make a difference within our community. The magazine keeps us informed of how we can become involved and move our community forward. – Gerardo Angulo

A lifeline to our community! When I moved here in the ’90s I moved to Mesa, and at that point there was nothing gay in Mesa! I found an Echo somewhere (a bar maybe) and it immediately opened up another world for me full of gay businesses, gay professionals, and maybe some “entertainment,” compliments of X-Factor at the time!

– Bill Gemmill 

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