SLMan Meets… **Tag Warner**, CEO of Gay Times
SLMan Meets… **Tag Warner**, CEO of Gay Times

SLMan Meets… Tag Warner, CEO of Gay Times


Tag Warner became CEO of Gay Times aged just 24. Since then, he’s helped transform the magazine into a modern brand for LGBTQ+ people around the world – it has recently collaborated with Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen, and featured cover stars like Tom Daley and Phoebe Bridgers. To mark LGBTQ+ History Month, Tag spoke to SLMan about his career journey, transatlantic working and championing marginalised voices.
Photography GAY TIMES

I didn’t begin my career in media. My first job was check-in assistant for BA. I loved that job and over the years was able to learn how to dispatch aircraft and manage operations as I climbed up. I was recently back in touch with the airport manager who hired me and spoke to her about how impactful the opportunity was. I remember sending her letters asking for a chance to work. When she finally relented, I was there every minute I could be – after school and on weekends. It was so important because it developed my self-confidence when I had struggled so much with it at school and growing up. 

At school and university, I was a total nerd. I was always working long hours and took myself quite seriously. I often look back and wish I had let myself have more fun. Most of my spare time was spent working at various airports or studying. That said, I know it helped me get where I am today, so I don’t really have any regrets, but I still would’ve told myself to loosen up a bit! Any guesses who the society president was…

My first full-time job after graduating was as a consultant. I’d always loved the idea of management consultancy because of its varied nature and how you are positioned to help businesses change and grow. In my first week on the job a client asked me in front of about 50 people, ‘Well, you’re the expert – what shall we do?’ All I could think was f*ck, I don’t have a clue, but I’d better act like I do. You are totally thrown in the deep end in that kind of job. I learnt a lot, very, very quickly. Luckily, I had some brilliant managers who really showed me the way. I owe a lot to them for putting their time and energy into a young recruit and seeing potential in me. I left after a couple of years because I wanted to make a positive impact on the world; I’ve always been driven by purpose.

That’s what keeps me excited every day, the prospect of building something better and impacting lives.

It took a lot of convincing to put myself forward for the role of CEO at Gay Times. The role was available and, while I was freelance consulting at another smaller magazine, the brilliant founder of that company suggested I go for it. Once I applied, I made it clear that I wanted to be in the running. It’s all a bit of a blur now but the process lasted about six months, consisting of various interviews and tests – mostly, at that level, creating extensive business plans and strategies. I didn’t have any social life, nor much sleep, during that time. I’ll have to go back and dig out the business plans I presented for the role and see how vastly different they are to now. 

The world of business is ruthless, so I had to have a strategy to get the job. If you don’t have any strategy, you are almost guaranteed to fail. You have to make a strategy but know it will never be 100% right. That means being willing to listen, take on feedback and change, while still backing yourself to the end. Leadership is an interesting balance of psychology and self-awareness. I spend a lot of energy on that, but I’ve always been immensely driven by purpose and change. That’s what keeps me excited every day, the prospect of building something better and impacting lives. 


As a CEO, your most scarce asset is time. Your whole life is one of sacrifice and trade off, because you can’t do everything. If you do, you’ll quickly burn out. Whichever part of the world I’m in, my days are time-blocked 24/7. When I’m in the UK, I usually wake up at 6am, get ready quickly and cycle to work. By 7am, I’m at the Gay Times offices near Liverpool Street (via Starbucks – I drink one large iced coffee every day, even when it’s -5°C), then start strategic thinking and forward planning while my head is fresh and free of distraction. I catch up on what’s happened in the US overnight and can even take a call or two with LA as they are sometimes still working late. At 9am, I speak with my brilliant EA, Rashida, who updates me on any correspondence that has come in in the last 24 hours. I’m briefed on the upcoming two days and we look ahead to the following week. After internal meetings for a few hours, I try to work out in the afternoon to sustain energy and give myself a mental break from screens. Otherwise, I might see a partner or stakeholder for lunch. The afternoon is blocked out with meetings and I usually leave the office at 6pm and continue to work at home until about 9.30pm. 

Because I often travel long haul for short periods, I’ve created a ‘blended time zone’ way of working. This is usually between East or West Coast USA. Going that far for a few days and expecting your body to adjust to that time zone isn’t reasonable. Instead, I ‘fake’ a midpoint time-zone and work to that instead. For example, if I’m in NYC, I rarely work at GMT-5, instead I’ll pretend that the time is GMT-3 instead. The next level is using a smartwatch to display your fake time zone (that dictates when you wake up and go to bed), local time zone and UK time zone (for international meetings). Once you get your head around the timings it works incredibly well. 

Leading a company at a young age makes you grow up very quickly – I’m trying to preserve as much experimenting spirit as possible in myself & our team.

After a long day, it can be hard to switch off. I have a wind-down routine in the evenings that I follow closely otherwise my chances of sleeping are low. This begins with tech automatically switching to ‘do not disturb’ around 10pm. That feature from Apple has been a game-changer. I then meditate every night before bed to try and slow my thoughts, nervous system and heart rate. If that happens in order, I can head to sleep. It’s 95% successful.

Younger leaders have a huge opportunity to bring great change to companies. When you’re younger, your naivety allows you to do things an older leader would instinctively not. It’s these tiny decisions that inevitably lead to failures at times, but also innovation and vision that would previously be discounted as impossible. That said, leading a company at a young age makes you grow up very quickly – I’m trying to preserve as much of that experimenting spirit as possible in myself and our team, as it’s what has allowed us to transform so vastly.


Tag with Mark Indelicato, Andrea Franchini & Ty Sunderland.
Tag with Mark Indelicato, Andrea Franchini & Ty Sunderland.


I was inspired to create a philanthropic arm of the business early on. I’ve seen how some leaders can be more interested in pushing their own name and agenda than the charity they’re supposed to be benefiting. That’s when we launched Amplifund – an initiative for Gay Times to give back to the community in partnership with our LGBTQ+ international charity partner, GiveOut. We automatically donate a percentage of all of our revenue into the fund that’s then distributed to LGBTQ+ organisations across the globe to push for change, socially and legally at a local level. The best we can do is support those in their own communities to do the incredible work they do, rather than parachuting in and trying to tell them how to do it.

February is LGBTQ+ history month. It’s an important time to reflect on the progress we’ve made as a community but also all the work still to do. It’s a great opportunity to bring focus and attention to topics that need to be platformed. It also allows the rest of the world (outside our LGBTQ+ sphere) to bring attention to the community at their intersection. Within the business, we have extensive content strategies over the month across our different intersections. This year, I’m particularly excited about creating our strategy for our 40th anniversary celebrations, where LGBTQ+ History Month will have a particular focus. If you support one charity this month, Just Like Us has a wonderful cause to helps inspire and educate millions of British schoolchildren about LGBTQ+ people and the community. They are warm, thoughtful and always pushing to challenge themselves in the pursuit of creating a more inclusive future world.

2023 is tremendously exciting for GT and our company. We have ambitious plans and goals for the business, as well as a 40th anniversary to prepare for in 2024. I’m really excited for this year. Keep an eye on our social channels over the next few months as we’ve got some exciting announcements to come!

Now Tag answers some of our quickfire questions…

Favourite holiday spot?

Spain. I love a lot about Spanish LGBTQ+ culture and their cities have an incredible blend of architecture, design and culture. The fact it’s only two hours away is a big bonus.

And for a city break in Europe?

Barcelona. A city that has it all. 

Favourite hotel?

Changes frequently, but it’s currently The Madrid Edition. It has an incredible rooftop in the heart of the city. 

Favourite restaurant? 

Berners Tavern for a splashy dinner. You order what the house suggests and you’re never disappointed. For a hungover Sunday with mates, it has to be Pizza Express. American on a romana base with a cracked egg on. Don’t come for me! 

Go-to drink?

A very dry vodka martini, stirred, straight up with a twist. It’s killer.

Where do you get your hair cut?

Dawid Ulanecki is a genius with scissors. And one of the loveliest people you will ever meet.

One menswear brand you love?

Daniel W Fletcher. Brilliant British tailoring with international influence. 

Favourite bit of tech?

Notion. If you’re a lover of planning and organisation like me, it’s the best tool currently available. 

Follow @TagWarner & visit

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