Savas Abadsidis ’96 — the managing editor for Retrograde Communications, which produces content for the country’s top LGBTQ+ publications — will return to campus on Monday, Sept. 4, to deliver the keynote address at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Colleges’ new LGBTQ+ Resource Center.
The LGBTQ+ Resource Center, located on the first floor of de Cordova Hall, offers a safe, physical space for students and organizations to meet and find campus and community resources; the Center provides campus with programming and outreach initiatives to support and educate on the unique needs of LGBTQ+ community members. Its opening coincides with the 15th anniversary of Hobart and William Smith’s LGBT Studies program, the first of its kind in the country.
“I think it’s remarkable the leaps and bounds that HWS has made in 21 years since I graduated,” says Abadsidis. “James Baldwin said, ‘The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.’ And I’m proud of the contributions I made to this community while I was here. The Colleges dispensed an education in realpolitik that I would never have had anywhere else that has propelled me throughout my life and career and why I will always be a proud alumnus.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 4:30 p.m. with a reception to follow. Later that day, Abadsidis will offer a Professional in Residence talk titled “A Career in Publishing” at 7:30 p.m. in Trinity 305. Both events are open to the public.
As a writer, editor and media strategist, Abadsidis has helped define Retrograde as “a fast-growing LGBT- and POC-owned micro-enterprise…committed to dismantling oppression, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, classism and trans/bi/homophobia.” Retrograde’s clients include the magazines Plus, The Advocate and digital publications from Here! Media. As managing editor, Abadsidis helps lead a tightknit team of contributors who develop content and devise digital identities for Retrograde’s clients, keep the print editions relevant in a volatile and declining market, and promote a progressive ethos aimed at outreach, destigmatization and education.
After writing for The Advocate sporadically for years, Abadsidis was recruited in 2016 by the magazine’s new editorial director and Retrograde CEO, award-winning journalist Diane Anderson-Minshall, whom he has long admired. As part of The Advocate’s 50th anniversary, Abadsidis recently interviewed Neil Patrick Harris and choreographer, dancer and artistic director Bill T. Jones, as well as YA novelists Tim Federle and Gabby Rivera. Earlier this summer, he wrote a cover story about former basketball star DeMarco Majors that explores addiction, coming out and living with HIV, and a profile of trans adult film star Luke Hudson.
Throughout his career, Abadsidis’ work has blurred the lines between entertainment and advocacy, provocation and education. Just a few months after graduation, he became founding editor of A&F Quarterly, Abercrombie & Fitch’s controversial signature magazine and held that position through the publication’s seven-year run. As he developed the magazine’s advertising campaigns, scouted new talent, produced content and managed staff and budget, Abadsidis shaped A&F Quarterly into a phenomenon that transcended traditional marketing and reached an audience of more than one million readers.
Since then he has been executive editor of the lifestyle magazine Complex, co-founded B magazine for gay youth and served as chief media strategist for Connected Health Solutions Inc., a progressive new-media public health company. At CHS — which produces social marketing campaigns for the LGBT community, “at-risk” and minority teens and other vulnerable populations — Abadsidis leveraged his media expertise to connect with these hard-to-reach demographics and raise awareness about HIV, trans-community issues, poverty, med-adherence and bullying.
In addition to his work on The Advocate, Abadsidis’ writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, Maxim, Interview and Fangoria, among other publications. At HWS, he majored in English and comparative literature and was a writer for Thel literary magazine and Waves bi-weekly political newspaper. He served on the English Department Hiring Committee, lived in the Writer’s House and was a member of the Hobart crew team.
The photo above features Savas Abadsidis ’96 in Tel Aviv, Israel where he was reporting on LGBT+ in the Middle East in April.