Before Ryan Fitzgibbon ever conceived of Hello Mr., his magazine “about men who date men,” he traveled around the country listening to people.
As a researcher for the global design firm IDEO, he held one-on-one interviews with people at home in order to glean insights that could be translated into design projects. He found that the more comfortable he made his subjects, the more they opened up.
“When we are invited to let down our guards, it extends permission to others to be open in return,” he says. It was a lesson in the value of vulnerability that has stuck with him ever since.
In 2012, Fitzgibbon ran a successful Kickstarter project for Hello Mr., a publication he hoped would provide “a new understanding about what it means to be a gay man.” He wanted to create a magazine that encouraged vulnerability and honesty — an idea that clearly resonated with his community. For the first issue of Hello Mr., Fitzgibbon received over 100,000 words in submissions. “It validated the need for new voices in this community to be heard,” he says.
Eight issues later, Hello Mr. has grown into an active collective of artists, writers, and readers, which is why Fitzgibbon recently returned to Kickstarter to expand the publication beyond the page. Hello Mr.’s “The Issues” is an in-house residency created to support emerging talent in queer publishing, providing mentorship and resources from the Hello Mr. network. “Think of it as an academy for the editors, art directors, and media-makers of the future,” he says.
The incubator's first publishers-in-residence are the creators of BRUNCHCLUB, a magazine about “the quest for truth, culture, and diversity within the LGBTQ community.”
Launching any new venture comes with its own set of ups and downs and bouts of insecurity. With "The Issues," Fitzgibbon relies on patience to keep him going. “It may be hard to see the value of your work in the short term,” he says. “But the effort you gave today will reveal its purpose with time.”