Michael Phelps, who started at The Advocate in 1996 and worked up the ranks to become publisher before being let go from the magazine, was found dead in his Los Angeles home Wednesday. He was 45.
The cause of death is unknown.
In 2007, Phelps (pictured, right) was championing the magazine’s 40th anniversary, celebrated with a design overhaul (that was eerily reminiscent of another magazine) — and at the same event where he was lauding the publication, he was taken down by activist Larry Kramer for spearheading a magazine that was full of fluff and lacking in conviction.
Phelps’ tenure at The Advocate ended in October, when Paul Colichman, owner Here/Regent Media (and pictured at left), fired a slew of staffers; the magazine’s report of Phelps’ death does not include this information, but does note, “Phelps shared not just a name with a certain gold medal–winning athlete but also a commitment to fitness and athletics. He was also a philanthropist and an ardent supporter of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.”
At The Advocate, one of Phelps’ fondest memories was when Absolut called, hoping to advertise in the magazine. A former Phelps colleague at the magazine, who still works there and requested anonymity because he did not want to be seen as making an official statement on behalf of the brand, tells Queerty “Phelps was one of the most genuine guys I knew. Always up to have a good time, but a hard, dedicated worker, and a great friend. He’ll be missed.”