This post was originally published by Campus Progress and is being reposted with permission.
Three printing companies have refused to publish the spring edition of Fusion, a Campus Progress–sponsored LGBT magazine at Kent State University, citing concerns over its images and language.
The controversy has cost Fusion, Campus Progress’s 2010 awardee for Best Overall Publication, more than $2,000, its editor says, as well as substantial effort as students try to release the issue before the school year ends next week.
One company after another turned Fusion down before a fourth printer agreed to take the issue to press.
“We are very surprised that it happened more than once,” says Raytevia Evans, the editor of Fusion and a first-year journalism and mass communications graduate student at Kent State.
The controversial magazine issue includes an eight-page spread featuring cross-dressing models, with the headline “Gender Fuck” written in large print above. Because the issue has not yet been released, Fusion requested that Campus Progress withhold posting the controversial content.
A six-page spread in last year’s spring issue of Fusion featured “Boys in Bottoms.” The issue’s publisher, Freeport Press Inc., said it published the images in error.
The three Ohio-based printing companies that rejected Fusion in its final form—Freeport Press Inc. in Freeport, Hess Print Solutions in Brimfield and Davis Graphic Communication Solutions in Bamberton—cited similar reasons for refusing to publish the magazine.
“We actually asked them to adjust the content of Fusion based on the f-word and on what we’re calling some graphic material, which involved some pictures of genitalia, and we’re just not comfortable producing that type of content,” says David Pilcher, vice president of sales and marketing at Freeport Press, the first company that refused to print the issue without editorial changes. “It’s not that we are trying to perform any censorship here.”
The photo in question depicts a man wearing a leotard. A bulge is noticeable around his genitals.
Freeport has been Fusion’s publisher for several years, even as the magazine published a spread in its spring 2010 issue depicting underwear-clad men kissing intimately. Freeport also published the word “fuck” at least three times in two previous issues of Fusion, released fall 2009 and winter 2011.
Evan Bailey, a former student media specialist at Kent State who worked with Freeport for five years, says that other student publications, including poetry magazine Luna Negra, were printed by Freeport and also included the word.
Freeport should not have printed those issues without editing, Pilcher says, but the problem “wasn’t highlighted to anyone” before publishing completed.
Bailey spoke with Freeport after the underwear spread’s release. He says the publishing company expressed concerns that were tinged with homophobia.
“You’d start to hear stuff like, ‘What if the owners’ kids are walking through the press room?’ ” Bailey says. “You heard the stereotypes and the very flimsy arguments that were just not very well-constructed.”