Photo by Katelyn Perry
“The only way you can actually tell a ‘universal’ story is by telling many stories of diverse backgrounds and genetic fibers,” says Ryan Fitzgibbon, the force behind Hello Mr, a gorgeous biannual periodical about gay men starting new conversations about their interests, loves, hopes, and fears. These stories unfold on real printed pages, which allow Fitzgibbon and team to play with the boundaries of style to showcase a community whose strength, humanity and resilience now shine brighter than ever before.
Hello Mr is bringing its exquisite taste to Kit, too, in the form of five custom collections outlining things like dinner party, date night and Pride parade essentials. What’s more, the affiliate revenue generated from these kits will be donated by Kit and Hello Mr to the OneOrlando Fund, providing support to the victims of the Pulse tragedy and their families.
It’s such an more important time for a magazine like Hello Mr.
According to your Website, Hello Mr seeks to tell the “universal story of gay men.” What is that story, as best as you can generalize?
I guess it’s the generalizing that might actually be the problem, haha. The phrase “universal story of gay men” is a bit of a self-aware Catch 22 — because there is no singular “universal” story for gay men. Many publications or media sources out there might lead you to believe that gay people are a conglomerate that all believe and want the same things. But the only way you can actually tell a “universal” story is by telling many stories of diverse backgrounds and genetic fibers. Because it is our subcultures that make up our rich and vibrant gay communities within the world of gay men.
What does Pride Month stand for in 2016? What kinds of things are still to be fought when it comes to equality?
There’s a very real fight happening right now that involves a queer counterculture out there taking Pride back to its roots — back to the rallies, the marches, the history that comes before us. What Pride month does is it allows straight culture to participate in something that they wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Our visibility can make the difference in helping others understand who we are and create hope for a more integrated society.
Your site also says: “The Hello Mr. ‘mister’ prides himself on emotional intuition and champions his individuality above everything else.” How does one cultivate and harness ‘emotional intuition’?
Our stories always feature — I mean, they’re saturated with — emotional weight. We never shy away from the epiphany, the breakdown, the momentous slow-motion-reunion-and-kiss-in-a-train-station. Our editors are not afraid of it. Because of that, we’re able to not only showcase emotions, but explore a way in which the reader might’ve never seen it before. Nuancing and redesigning emotions cultivates your understanding of them.
Hello Mr. also emphasizes authenticity. How do you do that in a world of carefully cultivated social profiles and the like?
Sad to say it, but “authenticity” is a 25-cent word these days. I’m the first to admit that the endeavor in reproducing authenticity can be a rocky one. The best way for us to quality-control the authentic is to sell it to ourselves before we put it out there into the world. If we wouldn’t stay to buy a product, or read the rest of a story, why should our readers?
How about individuality — who/what inspires you to be your best, most unique self?
One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He says, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” This is the ultimate quest in life. And the people we surround ourselves with should act as our barometers of that test — to challenge us first to always be ourselves, and second to encourage us to better that version of our self.
How would you describe the Hello Mr. aesthetic and what do you look for in a cover model?
Hello Mr. is confident and considered. Our design language could be described as minimal, but we experiment within the boundaries of that style guide, issue-to-issue. The content dictates the outcome. Always. Nothing is predetermined, and that goes for our cover misters as well. We typically wait until most content is formed before we choose who can best represent the subject of the stories within. Our covers feature up-and-coming and established voices. We have to believe in what they represent and what they stand for, but beyond that, the sky’s the limit.
What are your dreams for the magazine?
However long this road is for me, all I can wish for is that the stories we tell continue to connect with our readers. This was always a passion project for me, and only until I realized the impact and importance of having something like Hello Mr. in the world did my energy shift to making it sustainable. Print is not a dying industry, but it is a tough bitch. But the 43,000 copies we’ve sent around the world since 2013 give me reason to believe that what we do has real value, and that truly all I could have wished for.
What’s in your pockets right now?
Just my iPhone and my wallet, the contents of which include a variety pack of punch cards, a $10 bill, an MTA pass, two debit cards (one personal, one for the business), and whichever credit card with the lowest balance.
Who would you like to see make a kit on Kit and why?
I’d love to see two of my dearest friends in NYC, the Putnam florists, pull together a Kit of their favorite things, because they are my style icons and I love pretty much everything they own.
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