Out was founded by Michael Goff in 1992 as editor in chief and president. The executive editor was Sarah Pettit (since deceased). In 1996, owner Robert Hardman fired Goff and hired Henry E. (Hank) Scott, a former New York Times Co. executive, as president of Out Publishing Inc., with the charge to rescue the financially troubled magazine company. When Scott joined Out, the company had annual revenues of less than $4 million and expenses of $7 million. Scott changed Out's LGBT focus, arguing that gay men and lesbians had little in common other than political and legal issues. He fired Pettit and hired James Collard, editor of Attitude, a successful gay magazine published in the U.K., to refocus Out on an affluent and style-conscious gay male audience. Audited circulation grew by 67 percent to over 130,000 and the household income of the average Out reader, as measured by MRI, grew from $70,000 a year to $90,000 a year. With the help of Lou Fabrizio, a senior advertising executive whom Scott hired from The New York Times, Out began attracting major fashion advertisers and brands such as Saturn, which previously had not advertised in gay publications. Three years after Scott took control of Out, it had tripled its revenue and become the largest-circulation gay magazine in U.S. history. Those changes positioned the publication for a sale by Hardman to LPI Media in 2000.
Under the ownership of LPI Media and editorial director, Judy Wieder, Out shifted back to an LGBT audience focus, with a resultant decline in advertising revenue and circulation. In 2001 the circulation was 100,000. By 2006, when the magazine was acquired by PlanetOut, Out's circulation had reached 130,000. Regent Entertainment has attempted to refocus Out on the audience that Scott pursued. Out attracted international attention when it published its debut Power Issue in May 2007, with a cover that featured two models wearing masks of journalist Anderson Cooper and the actor Jodie Foster above the cover line, "The Glass Closet." Some lesbians have criticized Out magazine for primarily focusing on gay men. A writer for the website After Ellen noted that in 2008, no lesbians were featured on the magazine's cover, and that only 22% of the persons featured in the 'Out 100' were lesbians.
In 2008, Out, along with its sister publication The Advocate, was purchased by Here Media Inc. Since acquiring the brand, Here Media has expanded the magazine’s web presence, OUT.com, and added a mobile application.
On April 18, 2012, it was announced that a newly formed company, Grand Editorial, would oversee the editorial content of Out as a contractor for Here Media. Out editor-in-chief Aaron Hicklin founded Grand. Although the in-house editorial department was eliminated, Hicklin said that he would hire most of the editorial staff back as contracted freelancers.
In 2013, Here Media and Out hosted the 19th annual OUT100 event in New York City at Terminal 5. The annual event celebrates the compelling people who have had a hand in moving forward LGBT rights.Out introduced a Reader’s Choice Award in 2013 in addition to its editorially curated list of the top 100 honorees.