Charles Champagne’s relationship with his partner, Devin Rogers, began as a tale of two theme parks.
Champagne was on a college photography internship at Disney World while Rogers was working as cartoon characters at Universal Studios when they matched on a dating app. They connected over being multiples—Rogers is a twin; Champagne is a triplet. They also both happened to be from the South, with Rogers hailing from Corbin, Kentucky, and Champagne born in Coteau, Louisiana.
After months of long-distance, Champagne graduated from LSU and Rogers made the move earlier this year to Baton Rouge, where the two now share an apartment and a dog. Champagne does creative branding and photography for FUSESENSE, and Rogers is the special events coordinator for Manship Theatre.
But there’s another, more personal project for these two, one that began percolating during their time apart and a phone conversation in which Champagne complained about the lack of Southern lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender publications. Champagne’s brainchild is Leur Magazine, a Southern LGBT magazine based out of Baton Rouge.
Named for the Cajun-French word for “their,” the magazine aims for education and inclusiveness in all elements of sexuality and the LGBT experience.
The first issue, which debuted in July, features essays, short stories, poetry and photo spreads from local creatives, including Tate Tullier and Les Patin. Champagne sources and compiles the magazine content as creative director. Rogers provides big-picture direction and event planning.
Determining the packaging of their content was a challenge, especially when focus groups—mostly Champagne’s straight friends and family—seemed to think even PG-rated photos of LGBT couples and tasteful nudity were “too much too soon.”
“The reason we want this to exist is to not only showcase LGBT creatives in the South, but also help educate other people outside the community … but thinking about that, my priorities became clear,” Champagne says.
“At first, he was trying to cater to straight people, when everything else in the entire world is,” Rogers elaborates. “It took him a while to figure out that educating them is just having our content for them to read.”
They’re both proud of the final product. Leur is—for now—a quarterly online publication aiming for print distribution in the future. It not only gives local LGBT voices somewhere to be amplified, they say, but also captures the unique “queer Southern experience,” something many may be surprised even exists.
“A lot of people ask, when they find out we’re doing a gay publication here, ‘Is everybody going to be anonymous?’ Or, ‘Is everybody scared?’ I’m like, no. The [LGBT] community is still here, and not everyone is a religious bigot. We still have support here,” Champagne says. “That’s another thing I want to show—people are still expressing themselves and showcasing themselves here. Some of them just need a platform. And that’s what we want to provide.”
As the brand and the publication grow, Champagne and Rogers aim to create more safe spaces for LGBT people in the Capital City, including an LGBT-friendly Halloween party on Oct. 22 at the Guru in the Circa 1857 complex.
Find out more information on the publication and its events at leurmag.com.
This story was originally published in the October issue of 225 Magazine.