When the GQ team and I started planning a special edition of the magazine called the Modern Lovers issue, the mission was clear: We wanted to tell a bunch of love stories that we’d never heard before.
No disrespect to Romeo and Juliet or Sid and Nancy, but what about marriage in the time of COVID? What about taking some MDMA before doing couples therapy? What about the dating life of an internet-famous sex worker? Does anyone know what’s going on with that Colorado Springs throuple from HGTV?!
All of those stories—and many more—are packed into the new March issue (subscribe here), and they will be rolling out on GQ.com in the coming days and weeks.
So much of the work we’ve been doing at GQ over the past two years or so has been about redefining the point of view of a so-called “men’s magazine.” Jettisoning old tropes. Pushing the conversation forward.
In a way, we used the pages of the March issue to answer the big question implied by the words on the magazine’s cover: What exactly makes love or lovers modern now?
One answer is sharing your love story boldly and publicly as a gift to others—that’s modern. Call it storytelling as activism.
For an example, check out the youngest couple in our cover trio: tennis phenom Naomi Osaka and her rapper boyfriend, Cordae. Like so many inspiring figures of their generation, activism seems to come naturally to them. In their cover profile, by Mark Anthony Green, we learn that Naomi and Cordae didn’t have to discover that they could use their voices to instigate change—they just knew on instinct. Now, that’s modern.
Or check out Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird locking bodies for photographer Sam Taylor-Johnson. In the story, by writer Emma Carmichael, Billie Jean King celebrates Megan and Sue’s freedom to be both global superstars and very out—a freedom that Billie Jean herself never had. And then Sue imagines some burgeoning young WNBA baller who will one day coast frictionlessly into the same opportunities for which Sue had to fight like crazy. Being part of a lineage of triumphant sports heroes who are building equality through sweat equity—that’s modern as hell too.
Our third cover couple is the pop star Ciara and her husband, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Russell just won the NFL’s prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award, for excellence on and off the field. And in our cover story, by Zach Baron, you’ll find that what roots this couple in times of both success and hardship is their profound faith. This is not the rote “I’d like to thank Jesus” stuff of athletes on autopilot during postgame press conferences, either. I was impressed with and moved by just how alive God is within their marriage and family life.
As you read on, I think you’ll also find modernity in a thousand intimate little details. Our lovers share clothes, love languages, and bodily fluids. They tackle HIV, Prozac, Medicaid, and (God help us all) climate change. They confront ecstasy, calamity, and (God forgive us all) political scandal.
And everywhere in the March issue—over and over again—we find love, sex, and romance to be inextricably intertwined with technology: Twitter, Instagram, OnlyFans, Jack’d, Grindr galore. (I gotta wonder: Do modern lovers like us even have fantasies that Big Tech doesn’t already know about?)
I hope these stories open your heart, stir your loins, and expand your mind.
Special thanks to our awesome subjects for sharing so generously. GQ loves you.
A version of this story originally appeared in the March 2021 issue with the title “Bold as Love.”