A Goodbye Letter From the Editor-in-Chief of INTO

· Updated on December 14, 2020

When I received the phone call nearly two years ago asking me to become Grindr’s first editor-in-chief, I immediately said “No.”

At the time, I had a boyfriend in Chicago that I had met on the app, I was piloting a podcast for NPR, shooting a documentary with Eaterand a thousand other things. Things that made me feel quite comfortable about staying in Chicago forever, tbh.

Plus, I thought, what did they want me to edit? Dick pics? And if so, how do I tell my mother?

However, even with a “no” in hand, that one executive persisted and begged me to come out to “talk.” And a few days later, I found myself in West Hollywood with Grindr, hearing their pitch —  and a thought began to form that eventually turned my “no” into a “yes.”

The thought was this: If Grindr is the largest network of queer people to ever exist in the world, then any content built on top of that network shouldn’t be about what Grindr is infamously known for, but rather what happens off that app.

This Grindr magazine, then, should be about the politics and culture that define the users who log on from places like Tennessee or South Africa. It should seek to explore the lives of the queer people it seeks to communicate with.

But most important of all: It should find the queer angle on every single thing that happens in the world around it. And INTO has done just that.

In just over a year, the platform has not only won many awards and been called the “best magazine on the internet,” but the brilliant staff here has fought each and every day to prove to the world that we as LGBTQ people are literally in every story.

We proved it, whether through our in-depth reporting in Mexico, where we embedded journalists to bring you on-the-ground stories about the queer people fighting for their lives as President Trump used the caravan as his political weapon, or through our look at the infamous mail-bomber who, prior to targeting famous Democrats, was a well-known homophobe and openly attacked LGBTQ folks.  

And beyond accomplishing what I always secretly thought would be impossible (highlighting the queer in everything), this team took it further and fought to generate the bigger conversations — the ones people even within our own community seemed to shy away from — on a daily basis. One of the most vivid examples is when managing editor Trish Bendix showed how Hollywood ignores LGBTQ media and is actually hurting them; you wouldn’t believe THE EMAILS from publicists that arrived in response.

But guess who was invited to all the Hollywood stuff afterward? Queer media.

We also tried to never take ourselves too seriously —  and our video team here may have expressed this best. I could go on and on about the brilliance of our YouTube channel that has grown to 90K subscribers in a few short months under the leadership of Rocco Kayiatos, but let me just say this: Old gays and lesbians are the future of media.  

As I leave to join The Advocate, a magazine that literally paved the way for INTO and so many others, I am a bit overwhelmed as I look back at all that we’ve accomplished, but look forward to what’s in store next for Grindr and INTO.

And most of all: I can now say I’ve never been so happy I said “yes” to something in my entire life.

All of my love,

Zach Stafford


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