A new, intellectual magazine for lesbians, reviewed by Lorraine Douglas.
Velvet is a new quarterly magazine aimed at lesbian readers who are "less than satisfied" with the publications currently aimed at them. Judging by comments found on this and other sites, I'd say it potentially has a huge market!
Velvet sets out to be a little more intellectual than other magazines, and this is evident in its more analytical approach to reviewing films and books. As a reader who is tired of the almost blanket acceptance in some magazines of anything depicting "lesbianism", even when it is aimed blatantly at a heterosexual male market, it's refreshing to read a magazine written by those who share my scepticism.
Started very much in line with the fanzine ethos of "if it's not out there, do it yourself", Velvet bridges the gap between zine and magazine. It's A4, printed on glossy paper and is well written and presented while still having an accessible feel. One of the first things that struck me about Velvet is that one of my favourite lesbian writers, V.G. Lee, is on the writing team. Anyone familiar with her writing will know this means the magazine doesn't take itself too seriously and finds room to poke fun at itself.
So does Velvet manage to satisfy that most difficult to please and oft neglected reader, the lesbian who's also a feminist? For the most part it strikes a good balance. It embraces lesbian culture without placing it above criticism and it remembers that our interests are not confined to lesbian interests alone.
I did feel one pang of disappointment when, at the bottom of page 4, I saw a quote from the editor stating that her favourite film was "a film honouring women that isn't annoyingly feminist!" I know the feminist label is a whole other debate, but it always strikes me as sad when someone says something which seems to amount to, "I'm pro-women but not one of those moaning feminists". There are other people more worthy of that division you're putting up!
That aside, Velvet does have an obvious awareness of real issues and a willingness to discuss them and, this far at least, there's no interview asking a mainstream actor what it was like having to kiss another woman and no adverts urging us to buy "lesbian porn". These things are to be celebrated and I'm looking forward to seeing how Velvet develops.