Goodbye, Cruel ATM
by Mark Silver
Looking back over five years of Anything That Moves, I'm surprised by how far we've come. When I first became involved, at the end of issue #6, the magazine was in transition. There was a shrinking circle of folks available to do the production work, limited technology, no office, and a debt of a few thousand dollars. I ended up as managing editor for issue #8 entirely by chance; I was the only one there at the time dumb enough to take it on.
I've always had a passion for radical press, even from high school when I was suspended for printing an "underground newspaper", really just a couple of poorly written and poorly laid-out pages criticizing the school's administration. Similarly, I had been involved in a lot of direct action activism.
While useful and necessary, I've noticed that such activism is very hard for people to sustain because it tends to be reactive and anger-driven and I've seen dozens and dozens of people burn out in a few short years doing it. As one person complained in a pro-abortion/clinic defense group I belonged to, "Whenever Operation Rescue shits, we're there with the toilet paper wiping their ass." It's important work, but it's not very sustaining.
With ATM, I saw a chance to combine radical politics, activism, and sexuality in a proactive package. We were going to start telling our stories and living our lives as if the ideal world we wanted already existed. We were going to tell stories from people who were creating that world right now. And we were going to have fun doing it.
My path has led me to see that telling our stories is one of the most sacred and radical acts we can do. Modern, industrialized cultures have taken away many opportunities to connect with each other on a heart basis, simply by making life drudgery with uninteresting jobs that pay little and mean less. We're forced to spend a great deal of time simply on survival, struggling for allegedly scarce resources. This unnatural competition causes many people to distrust one another.
By telling our stories we begin to trust again. I'm continually amazed at how I can relate and learn from stories told out of cultures or from people who seem very different or foreign to me. I can recognize pieces of myself in the teller, and, in turn, hopefully they can recognize themselves in me. It's grass-roots, it's inspiring, and it begins to undo the damage spawned by the various "isms" around us.
So, why am I leaving this inspiring and healing work?
A few reasons. One is that I'm done. I've been turned over a few times, and I'm crispy on both sides. As much as I love the work and the people, I find myself having reached a limit on my internal energy for this work. Part of that limit is that my regular job, the one that pays me, is no longer inspiring to me, either. I had great hopes that ATM would have reached a point by now where the organization could sustain at least a couple of part-time positions, allowing me a chance to shift the way I earn my money, but we're not there yet, and I need to concentrate on finding a more sustainable way of making rent.
Another reason is the health of ATM itself. When I started to work with the Bay Area Bisexual Network on the magazine, there was essentially a very small staff, and no continuity between myself and the previous way of doing things. In reorganizing the magazine, I created a structure different from before, and new staff members joined. And left. And more joined. And left. Myself, Gerard Palmieri, and eventually Jennifer Yee were the only stable, consistent staff members several years ago. In creating that structure, I became used to being a conduit of information, and the one who made the day-to-day decisions. The magazine lived in my bedroom, on my computer, and mostly according to my schedule.
Currently, the magazine has a large and very capable staff. But the structure I had created, somewhat unconsciously, made it difficult for me to stop worrying about details, and thus made sharing power difficult. My stepping down onto the board of directors, has cleared the way to create a new structure, one with more people taking more responsibilities, with a fresh start. The magazine is in excellent hands and will just keep getting better and better.
I want to thank a few people. I mean, ideally just put a big "Thank You!" in front of the entire staff list, because everyone is incredible, with far-reaching vision and amazing creativity. But I want to name a few folks who have particularly supported me.
Specifically, I want to thank Linda Howard, the new editrix; Gerard Palmieri, who has been on staff since the very beginning; Kevin McCulloch, with his warmth and insight; Jon Denton and his fundraising skills and advice; and Lani Ka'ahumanu, the incredible diva. These folks have given me critical personal support and feedback over the years, and I love them and thank them profusely.
Of course there are many others who have given a tremendous amount of time and energy. The whole staff just rocks, and I've been privileged to have been a part of it all.
Peace and love, y'all.
For the last five years, Mark Silver has dedicated his blood, sweat, tears and various other bodily fluids to ensure that this magazine grew and prospered. We'll miss his drive, his dedication, his queer-Jewish-Pagan-ness, and most of all his dreadful metaphors, but we promise to keep the magazine chock full o' bisexual goodness, because as Mark was so fond of saying, bisexuality is not just for breakfast anymore.
Now get, Mark. Go get some sleep and dream of mango fantasies.
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