Gay Star News founders reveal why they are ceasing publication

The founders of Gay Star News have released a wide-ranging post explaining why their publication has shut down, citing financial reasons.

Tris Reid-Smith and Scott Nunn, who set up Gay Star News nearly eight years ago, confirmed reports that the publication had closed after the BBC’s LGBT correspondent Ben Hunte broke the story on Monday night (July 29).

The pair said that business for the company had got “unexpectedly much tougher” in 2019 in an article published on the Gay Star News website on Tuesday (July 30).

“To avoid any doubt, our problem has been entirely financial,” reads the article.

“By all the statistics, Gay Star News is now more widely read, watched and loved by the international LGBTI audience than ever.

“It is a sad paradox that our popularity has not transferred into our survival. We are convinced we are closing at a time when more people want and need what we offer than ever before.”

Our problem was “entirely financial,” say Gay Star News founders

Hunte broke the news on Twitter. (BeninLDN/Twitter)

They said there were a “number of reasons” for the publication running into financial difficulties, including “uncertainty over Brexit.” The company has not made a profit in its seven years, pre-dating the 2016 referendum.

Reid-Smith and Nunn criticised brands supposedly carrying out work for the LGBT+ community for “increasingly doing so in a tokenistic way.”

It is a sad paradox that our popularity has not transferred into our survival.

They added: “Rather than working with us to engage and serve LGBTI people year round, many have chosen to ‘rainbow wash’.

“They have turned their logo rainbow colored for Pride week or month and – at best – made a small donation to an LGBTI good cause.”

Gay Star News founders accuse more companies of ‘rainbow washing’

The closure means that around 20 people who worked at the company have lost their jobs.

According to Hunte, staff were informed that the company was entering insolvency 48 hours before payday.

The founders thanked their colleagues, but admitted: “We have tried our best to be the team leaders they deserve and are truly sorry that ultimately it wasn’t enough.”

The demise of Gay Star News comes at a time when online publications are struggling to stay afloat financially, following the closure of The Pool in March and LGBT+ site INTO in January.

Recently, PinkNews announced that monthly revenues were up 300% year-on-year.

Reid-Smith and Nunn went on to acknowledge their competitors in the LGBT+ media industry, describing them as their “not truly our competitors” and instead as “our friends.”

They said: “So we would like to thank our ‘competitors’ for keeping us honest and making us innovate. Your work is vital.

“And with us gone, please support those who are left – or eventually there will be none left.”

In an update at the bottom of their article, Reid-Smith and Nunn said they were aware of various plans to “rescue” Gay Star News, adding: “Naturally we will do all we can to make it happen and we are grateful beyond measure for all those trying to help.”

LGBT+ media industry figureheads have sent their condolences to Gay Star News.

PinkNews’ CEO and editor-in-chief Benjamin Cohen posted on Twitter: “Sorry to read this – good luck to staff for the future.”