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Gay marriage front page leads to sales plummet for Bristol paper

Gay marriage front page leads to sales plummet for Bristol paper

A newspaper editor splashed Bristol’s first same-sex marriage on his front page, and is dumbfounded it resulted in plummeting sales.

Mike Norton, who is the editor for the Bristol Post, decided to highlight one of the southwest England city’s first married gay couple, Mike McBeth and Matthew Symonds.

Some of his readers were not pleased.

In response to the low sales, Norton published an article online where he explains his astonishment, as the Bristol he knows is a ‘tolerant and non-conformist’ town that he thought was ‘ready’ for a same-sex front page.

‘It was an historic day for Bristol. The city’s first same-sex marriage. We thought it was front-page news…I thought Bristol was ready for that picture,’ Norton said.

He asked the public online for feedback, saying: ‘I want to hear from the people who didn’t buy the paper because of that picture. Tell me why.’

The responses to the online request have been varied.

‘I accept gay marriage and gay relationships even though I have an uncontrollable physical revulsion to the photo, like watching someone eat a slug; totally instinctive and uncontrollable heaving,’ one reader said.

Another reader supported this view and commented: ‘The media coverage has an element of shock-and-awe.

‘And I hardly think that the photograph, nor the event it has captured, merits being described as “historic”.’

However, readers have stepped up in defence of the publishing of Mike McBeth and Matthew Symonds kissing, after tying the knot.

One said: ‘Since this is the first time ever that gay marriage has been allowed – I would call it historic ie. something that will be remembered and have a date attached to it.’

Speaking to Gay Star News, Norton does not regret his decision.

He said: ‘I would absolutely publish the same picture again, and I have no regrets doing what I did.

‘The Bristol Post is a modern, 21st century newspaper.

He added: ‘The general reaction to the picture seems to be that varied.

‘The overall impression of the feedback from the online post, drawn from the fair and reasonable people who responded, is that people don’t necessary disagree with gay marriage but they have an aversion to seeing men kiss.’