Frontcover of LOTL MagazineCelebrating two decades of lesbian pop culture and news down under.

I kind of love to admit that before becoming deeply acquainted with the Australian lesbian magazine LOTL, I thought the magazine’s acronym stood for Lord of the Lesbians. Of course, the real translation—before they officially condensed it to just LOTL in 2002—was something much more fitting: Lesbians on the Loose. Rawr!

LOTL began as an eight-page, hand-typed newsletter with free advertising. Fast forward two decades later and the full-fledged magazine is gloss covered, full colour and widely popular. In their own words, “We’ve come a long way, baby.”

To celebrate their longevity and modern vogue, LOTL is throwing various 20th Anniversary Celebration events down under. Over the month of February, Exhibition Sydney showcases 20 of its most popular covers since the magazine’s inception. Covers of Ellen DeGeneres, Pink and k.d. lang—as well as their first cover ever—are being showcased, and limited edition cover reprints are available through a silent auction.

But these 21st-century lezzies on the loose don’t stop there. LOTL and BOUND—an international publication also launched by Avalon Media—are unravelling Queer TV on the Aurora Channel on February 25th.

Other anniversary events include a historical documentary of the publication, a July getaway to Fiji and various Mardi Gras activities—presumably because Mardi Gras holds a special place in LOTL‘s heart since the first issue increased from four to eight pages to accommodate

a Mardi Gras advertisement.

Twenty years ago, starting a magazine with the word ‘lesbian’ in its title was quite a risk. In fact, according to LOTL’s history, even some subscribers found the title to be confronting—many of them had to uncomfortably make up their own acronyms on the spot when asked what LOTL stood for; one schoolteacher reported using “Languages Other Than Latin.”

But much has changed in the past two decades, and it takes a balance of wisdom and skill to embrace cultural transformations and succeed as a minority publication, which LOTL seems to have done quite well. Silke Bader, LOTL‘s current publisher and the owner says on that “to protect LOTL’s future we need to embrace the diversity within our community—a culture that is ever-changing. The recent years have shown enormous changes for the magazine as well as challenges.”

So congratulations to LOTL for not just surviving, but thriving for 20 years in a world that was initially—and sometimes still is—against them.