This September marks my one year anniversary with Oasis. It didn't go public until December of last year, so that's our official anniversary (and there will be some major announcements closer to that anniversary) but for me, I have been living Oasis for a year.
The seed for Oasis started as I wrote one story per month on Youth Action Online, and as other people started asking if they could write a story every so often for the page.
I knew I wanted to do more online, and one day I sat down and thought of all the cool things I wished I had space to include. At the time, the feature story each month was placed on the main home page, so it would be impossible to add too much without burying the important links. So, I wrote down all the different types of things I wished I could do better (reviews, news, columnists, opinions, interviews) and when I was done, the sheet of paper I had been writing on resembled the table of contents of a magazine.
I thought it was too ambitious. I didn't have the free time to dedicate. I mean, I have time to do it now, but what would happen if I somehow started to get a life? Did I want this commitment hanging over me?
But then, I looked on the web.
There were a lot of gay youth pages, but they all lacked content. Actually, it seemed that most youth pages simply linked to other youth links pages, which linked to other pages and it created an evil circle that wouldn't help many people get answers in their own life. So, I decided to put out a call for writers and start preparing to tackle this project. My goal was to offer about five stories each month, depending on how many writers offered to write. I think there were over 50 stories in our first issue, and it has grown with nearly each issue.
It seems most people just plan to put gay youth magazines together online, but never do. I know I had responded (and still respond) to tons of inquiries about someone who's going to start gay youth zine online. It rarely happens. Actually, I know of all the inquiries I've sent in over the years, NONE of the magazines has ever come through and appeared online.
I came up with the name Oasis in October, and I don't regret it despite the insane number of e-mails I get each month now that a Britpop band of the same name has become enormously popular. The name was selected to represent what I felt my webzine would hopefully come to be to the people who read it.
Personally, I grew up feeling messed up about being gay, and I just needed to have something in my life to say that I was okay, that I was all right. It didn't happen, and I ended up being closeted until I was 23. That was too long. So, my drive to create Oasis was also to make a place where gay kids reaching out can hopefully find the answers they need. And not have it done with tired hand-holding brochures about your gay feelings being okay, but rather with real people talking about their lives, mainly because I think people respond to that better.
Plus, we have had a number of interesting interviews grace our covers, from Camille Paglia and Janis Ian to Pansy Division and Harvey Fierstein. I think Oasis is just beginning, and I hope to take it in much bigger directions in 1997.
This month also marks the debut of our new domain name, so we are now accessible at http://www.oasismag.com. The domain name was donated by Chris Kryzan of !OutProud!. Also this month, Oasis has become a partner with PlanetOut, and we now reside on their server. This partnership provides us with enormous opportunities to put out a better product in coming months, which I think you'll notice.
I was also fortunate enough to seduce Jase Pittman-Wells nearly a year ago -- into designing this webzine, I mean. And he took a bad sketch and made into a great looking page. After so many months, he has become a little bored with our design, and next month, he will unveil his new redesign of Oasis, which should make things easier to find, as well as making them look prettier.
So, if you have any story ideas, content suggestions or things you'd like to see in Oasis' future, drop me a line, as always.
On a side note, the issue you are currently reading is also being featured from Sept. 6 to Nov. 5, 1996 in an exhibit called "alt.youth.media" at The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 583 Broadway in Soho, New York City. For more information, call (212) 219-1355.