Editor-in-chief Carrie Lyell pens an impassioned plea to support DIVA and keep our community thriving through the Covid-19 crisis
BY CARRIE LYELL
Do you remember the first copy of DIVA you bought? I do. (Almost) 20 years on, I can still see the shiny red cover, clear as day, glistening on that shelf in WH Smiths in Glasgow’s Queen Street station. I must have walked past it a dozen times before I plucked up the courage to reach for it, taking it to the counter stuffed between a copy of Heat and the Guardian, my face burning brighter than the cover of the magazine.
Smuggling it out of there like contraband, I devoured it in a single reading, my eyes, heart and horizons simultaneously opening up. I bought every copy after that, each time feeling a little more emboldened and a little less embarrassed.
Finding DIVA that day changed my life, but I had no idea that it would continue to do so, all these years later. I’ve been editor for almost three years now, and it’s been an honour and a privilege to captain this good ship.
I know DIVA has changed your life too. More than that, it has saved your life. Recently, in fact, one of our features played a pivotal role in the cases of several lesbian asylum seekers, preventing them from being sent home to countries where they very likely may have been tortured, abused or even killed.
For those women, and for thousands of others, DIVA is more than a magazine. Yes, we bring you celebrity interviews, fashion, frivolity and fun. But it is so much more than that. It is community. It is belonging. It’s the overwhelming emotion that comes with being seen, when the world has ignored you for so long. For more than 25 years, it has been a friend, a confidante, a sanctuary. When all around us the world has been falling apart, DIVA has been a beacon of hope in the dark, and a place to call home.
But we need your support to keep the lights on. We, like so many others, have been heavily hit by the economic impact of the Coronavirus crisis, making the future of the magazine uncertain. Many of our advertisers have been forced to pull out, our stockists have closed their doors, and we’ve had no choice but to postpone projects and events that would have generated vital income for the magazine.
We’re confident we can weather this storm. We’re working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep providing you with the content you love, we’re going virtual with Lesbian Visibility Week, have big plans for DIVA Box Office and have moved the DIVA Awards to the Autumn. We’ve also recently launched the DIVA Community Facebook group to provide additional support to those readers who are particularly struggling at the moment. More than 3,500 of you have joined in less than two weeks, so we know the need is there.
You’ve kept DIVA alive for 26 years. We’ve come through tough times before – together – and we know we can get through this too. But we need your help to make that happen.
The best thing you can do to keep DIVA going through this crisis, to enable us to tell your stories, to keep our community alive, and to make sure that we’re here for women-loving-women for many years to come, is to buy the magazine. We might be in lockdown, but our digital doors are wide open, so stay home, stay safe, and subscribe, if you can.
Download as many back issues as your tablet can take and pre-order a print copy of the May issue today. For obvious reasons, we won’t be available in retail outlets like WH Smith for the foreseeable future, but we are printing to order for our current subscribers and will do whatever we can to keep the presses rolling.
For those of you who already subscribe (thank you!) and who have asked if there’s another way you can help, we’ve set up a PayPal fundraising page where you can make a one-off or monthly donation to DIVA. Anything you are able to give will go straight back into the magazine, allowing us to keep printing through the pandemic.
I’m not writing this as editor of DIVA magazine. I’m writing what my 16-year-old self would write. The kid who, drowning in a sea of uncertainty, found a life raft when she found DIVA. This magazine has been a lifeline to so many women for such a long time. There is nothing else like it, and I can’t bear the thought of a future where that no longer exists.
So please, help us to help you. Buy DIVA today, make a donation if you can, and help keep us going.