12/30/2013 04:09 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Why Were There So Few Gay Covers in Straight Magazines This Year?

Given the epic gains in gay rights over the past year you would think that a lot of magazines would have put gays on their covers, but they didn't. As far as my research team could tell, only six straight magazines had gay covers.

But really there were four -- because the New Yorker put gays on the cover twice and In Touch magazine had a "false" gay cover -- it incorrectly outed Kanye West with a screaming, "HE'S GAY" headline.

If our math -- and our research -- is correct, that means they were only four different magazines that had an LGBTQ cover this year. Given the incredible advances in the gay-rights movement that took place in 2013, is this a sign that publishers were afraid that a gay cover would depress sales? Maybe, but there's another possibility: the traditional definition of "cover" is changing. Especially for huge online news sources like HuffPost.

For example, if The Huffington Post put something on their "cover" you would only know it the day that it appears because there is not an archive that shows the lead story for any particular day. I'm sure their archivists know, but the general public, doing a general search would not. Same goes not only for Salon or Slate but every online edition of traditional print magazines.

It may be that major magazines put the gay on their covers but that it isn't easily trackable. The public can tell, for example, that Sports Illustrated's May 6, 2013 edition had a gay cover (NBA vet Jason Collins). It's easily trackable. But what about online magazines? When did they do what? Very hard to track.

Our sense is that there were plenty of "gay covers" this year but only 6 of them were easily trackable. To see the six gay covers in straight magazines, click here.