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An Opening Letter

An Opening Letter

My first job was delivering newspapers. On weekdays, stacks of the Midland Daily News would be waiting for me at the end of our driveway when I got home from school, and before the sun came up on weekends. This was pre-driver’s license, so after I finished folding and rubber-banding (bagging on wet days), I would load up two cross-shoulder bags, wash the ink off my hands as best I could, and climb onto my bike to begin the route. A careful balancing act, just for a paycheck. But as I learned later in life, it was much more than that. 

In high school, I discovered graphic design and experimented with different printing methods in commercial art class before joining the school newspaper staff as a page editor my senior year. The exhilaration in seeing an idea come to life on paper, and be distributed for other people to enjoy led me to continue studying design in college, where my love for publication design strengthened into a powerful form of self-expression. 

Meat was out and men were in.

Around the time I turned 19, I decided to stop eating meat and took the opportunity through a class assignment to design a prototype of a vegetarian lifestyle magazine called B12. Unrelated, this was also the period of my life when I started to understand and accept my sexuality. Meat was out and men were in. After I came out to my family and my close friends, I decided to once again use an assignment to come out to my classmates, by designing a book about the state of marriage equality around the world. This admission empowered me to continue using my art to inform and inspire more people through storytelling. 

In the decade since, I’ve tried to do exactly that through the magazine I launched in 2012, called Hello Mr., and in every project I’ve taken on that surrounded or spawned from it. Like my involvement with this very publication you’re reading now. These queer stories have been thoughtfully curated and delivered to you, not just as inspiration, but as a way to connect shared experiences in uneasy times. 

“My career in media has shown me just how important feeling part of something bigger really is.”

My career in media has shown me just how important feeling part of something bigger really is. Whether it’s local news or a special edition zine, our stories help connect the dots and make us feel less alone. I hope you see a part of your experience reflected back to yourself in this issue. If you do, I encourage you to reach out to the writer or artist who bravely shared their story, and let them know that it meant something. We’d love to hear from you too, so tag us on Instagram at @hope_irl and be part of our community. You are always welcome here. 

With love,

Ryan Fitzgibbon

Ryan Fitzgibbon is the creator of Hello Mr and In Our Blood. Twitter: @ryanfitzgibbon

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A zine for young people, by young people.

HopeIRL is a project of Hopelab, a nonprofit social innovation lab based in San Francisco that works with young people to co-create tech products that improve health and happiness. 

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