Late last month, Condé Nast launched Them, its first new independent title since the short-lived Portfolio in a decade. The LGBTQ-focused platform began gaining industry traction immediately, much of which was, in part, thanks to its creator, Teen Vogue and Allure Digital Editorial Director Phillip Picardi, as well as Them's A-level staff. It was a celebrated move, especially coming from a media company as historically resistant toward change as Condé Nast. In addition to incorporating additional LGBTQ-adjacent content into its pre-existing verticals, would other publications and media companies follow suit in creating new platforms for its LGBTQ readers entirely?
On the same day as Them's official launch, Thursday, Oct. 26, a new Instagram account with the handle "@wearehere" appeared, posting its first photo of a neon rainbow glowing in the forefront of a desert landscape at dusk. On Thursday, we learned the feed belonged to Here, a new community by and for LGBTQ-identified teenagers and allies, launched by Seventeen. In its announcement post on Seventeen.com, Seventeen discussed that now, one year after the presidential election of Donald Trump, its readers need a sense of both community and visibility — "a community we wish had existed when we were growing up."
"For teens who are still getting to know themselves and how they identify, it's especially difficult to navigate through the world right now," Seventeen.com Editor Kristin Koch told Fashionista in an email. "Here is both a resource and a place for teens to express themselves. It is about representation and visibility. It's about connecting teens with peers and stories they can relate to."
Koch explained that in the last year, Seventeen.com has evolved to become a social media-first brand to better serve its "hyper-digital" audience — which has meant taking the brand to Generation Z-friendly platforms like Musical.ly and Snapchat Discover, as well as creating new original programming on YouTube and Facebook. Here, too, will primarily live on social via Facebook and its aforementioned Instagram page, but it will also maintain its own vertical on Seventeen.com for written articles and essays.
Not yet a week in, Here has already begun posting a range of written, video and social content to its social channels and on-site columns: on Thursday, a piece on Seventeen.com titled, "30 Teens Get Real About What Being Queers Makes to Them"; on Friday, a video on Here's Facebook that features five LGBTQ people discussing their coming-out. Them's content — which has recently included such powerful essays as, "Homelessness and the Death I Fear as a Queer Black Person" and pointed op-eds like, "White Gay Men Are Hindering Our Progress as a Queer Community" — is important and appealing to readers of all ages, gender identities, sexual orientations and otherwise. But there was a gap in the industry, said Koch, in which Seventeen saw room for Here.
"While there are many amazing resources and platforms for the LGBTQ community, many of which we're excited to work with, what we felt was missing was a place dedicated to young people who were exploring their identities and still coming out in the world," said Koch. "When we sat down to launch Here, we reached out to LGBTQ influencers who our teens care about most and asked them why a platform like this is so important. The answer was unanimous: 'It would've changed my life,' most of them said."
Koch has plans for Here to become a complete, 360-degree package for all dimensions of its LGBTQ readers. "Yes, we talk about identity and news that matters to them most, but we also show them fun images that'll make them smile and identity-related text posts that they'll want to send to their BFFs who totally get it," she said, surely referencing Here's colorful, inviting Instagram presence. "We do not flatten our readers so that their gender identity or sexual orientation is the only thing that keeps the Here community together."
Note: A previous version of this story referenced the speculative age difference between Them and Here's readers, which has been updated.