Media Awards Case Studies

Inside the digital-first strategy of Gay Times

By Awards Analyst | The Drum Awards

April 29, 2022 | 4 min read

Gay Times won Brand of the Year at The Drum Awards for Online Media 2022 for its new editorial strategy. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful project.

Gay Times goes digital first

Gay Times goes digital-first / Gay Times

Gay Times is an LGBTQ+ media brand established in 1975 that has been running as a print publication since it started. In 2021 it went completely digital and reshaped its editorial strategy.

The brief

Gay Times needed a new editorial strategy and to diversify its content offering by investing in new formats and taking the magazine into a new digital-only era.

This was to evolve the brand from a business that centered around a legacy print publication for gay and bi men to a digital platform for all LGBTQ+ people, with the largest social reach of any LGBTQ+ media brand in the world.

It wanted to become the go-to destination for partnership content for huge brands wanting to connect with the LGBTQ+ community, leveraging their support to produce meaningful content that resonates with its audience. It set out for its editorial output, brand awareness and positive audience sentiment to be at the forefront of its strategy.

The idea

Gay Times relaunched as a digital-only product, ending its print editions, but still committed to creating striking cover images that cut through. For its Gay Times Honours issue, it had Little Mix’s Jade Thirwall, activist Munroe Bergdorf and drag performer Bimini placed in CGI worlds, with their cover images being shared far and wide across social media.

The publication evolved its social media strategy to bring original reporting to its social media audience through innovative platform-specific content. Strategy highlights include the organization’s venture on TikTok, GT133, which has launched the careers of seven promising young creators and accrued more than 400K likes.

For its website, Gay Times placed a renewed focus on diversifying its content by producing more long-reads on subjects including how the LGBTQ+ community coped during lockdown; why pronouns matter to LGBTQ+ youth; and the specific challenges trans and non-binary people face when it comes to conversion therapy.

In 2021 Gay Times launched four new podcast series: Snatched!; MediaWatch; Tag Talks; and Queer Me Out.

The results

At the start of 2021, Gay Times Magazine’s reach per issue was a circulation of 161,000 on the newsstand. By the end of the year, it reached more than 5 million people per issue via Apple News+ and Readly.

Unique users for 2021 increased by 32% year-on-year, social engagement climbed by 40% year-on-year, and the total reach of Gay Times content in 2021 topped 400 million.

Gay Times became the first LGBTQ+ media publication to pass 1 million followers on Instagram and made headlines with its innovative approach to TikTok. The Gay Times also launched the Drag Race-themed podcast Snatched!, which charted at number 2 in the UK’s Entertainment News chart.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Online Media 2022. You can see all the winners here.

And check out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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