Sunday, September 29, 2013


THE BILERICO PROJECT (BILERICO.COM) celebrated its ninth anniversary as a blog on September 25, 2013.

BIL BROWNING, publisher of THE BILERICO PROJECT, has been appointed to a one-year term on the board of directors of the NATIONAL LESBIAN AND GAY JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION. Also appointed to a one-year term is BARBARA DOZETOS, former editor of the now-defunct Vermont-based OUT IN THE MOUNTAINS.

SEAN BUGG, former co-publisher of Washington, D.C.-based METRO WEEKLY, stepped down at the end of August to work full-time with the national LGBT non-profit he launched, the Next Generation Leadership Foundation, which provides educational opportunities, mentoring and leadership training for youth and young adults.

RAFA CARVAJAL, publisher and editor in chief of Miami-based WIRE MAGAZINE, is now also chief operating officer of QUADRANT HOLDINGS, a business whose main operating company in Q LINK WIRELESS, which provides cellular telecommunications services to people around the United States under the federal Lifeline program.

JEN COLLETTA, editor of PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS, got engaged to her partner ASHLEE TURTURRO on their sixth anniversary, April 14, 2013. 

COMPETE, the LGBT sports magazine based in Tempe, Ariz., unveiled its Metro Phoenix edition in May 2013. The magazine also plans a Los Angeles-specific edition. Additionally, the magazine’s “Ally Editor” MATT FISH has moved on to a new opportunity as publisher of REBOUND, the official magazine of the National Basketball Retired Players Association.

FRONTIERS MEDIA, based in Los Angeles, is presenting the first annual Los Angeles Lesbian & Gay Wedding Expo, on November 10, 2013, at the Downtown Los Angeles Athletic Club.

NATE GOWDY, staff photographer at SEATTLE GAY NEWS, beat out 14 other finalists in the 2013 PDNEDU STUDENT PHOTO CONTEST sponsored by the PHOTO DISTRICT NEWS (PDN), claiming the grand prize for fashion/portraiture.

BRENDA KNIGHT has been named publisher of Berkeley, Calif.-based CLEIS PRESS, the largest independent queer publishing company in the United States.

ODYSSEY MAGAZINE, based in New York, has unveiled the first issue of its Toronto edition with its September/October 2013 issue. The magazine also publishes a Los Angeles edition.

DAVID WEBB, a writer for PRESS PASS Q and the man behind THE RARE REPORTER blog (THERAREREPORTER.BLOGSPOT.COM), had a story picked up by HUFFPOST GAY VOICES (

Volume 15
Issue 6

PRESSING QUESTIONS: Flame Magazine of Ferndale, Michigan

by David Webb

Staff size and breakdown: managing editor, entertainment editor, art director, 2 graphic artists, 5 photographers, and 8 contributors.

Physical dimensions of publication/Average page count: The magazine is 8 ½” x 11” high gloss, 24-48 pages

Area of coverage: Metro Detroit

Key demographics for readers: 75 percent male, 25–54

Median age of readers: 36

Print run: 5,000

Website address:


PPQ: When did you launch your publication, and what inspired you to do it?

Publisher Peter Rayes: During my previous employ with some of Detroit’s local entertainment guides, I was often disappointed at how many business decisions were made on the basis of the status quo. When I went to the publishers with some amazing opportunities, they were everything less than receptive. Naturally, I did what any other 24-year-old would do: I set out a business plan, hired 12 of the brightest professionals in the community, and published and distributed Michigan’s only LGBT lifestyle and entertainment magazine. The initial issue, released in January 2012, met with rave reviews at LGBT-friendly locations across Michigan, including bars, bookstores, cafes, restaurants, and health clubs.

PPQ: What, if anything, distinguishes your publication from other LGBT newspapers, magazines and online publications, and how much competition is there in your area for LGBT-specific news and advertising?

Rayes: When I entered the market, there were three existing entertainment guides, a newspaper, as well as a recently announced newsmagazine. Today, we share the market with one newspaper, one entertainment guide, and one [other publication]. With the launch of our mobile app this month, Flame becomes Michigan’s only entertainment magazine with cutting edge graphics and printing, a professional and easy-to-navigate website, a state of the art mobile application, and a strong social media presence.

PPQ: What was the inspiration for the name, Flame?

Rayes: Flame comes from the idea that a small spark (our idea) could build into a community’s highly sought-after source of heat (our Flame). There was a lot of feedback that Flame wouldn’t survive the market, and that was very much possible. We chose to build on the idea that our readership was our most valuable asset, meaning the amount the community chose to fuel and fan the Flame would decide our fate. Detroit chose to keep the flame burning.

PPQ: What were your greatest challenges in getting it up and running?

Rayes: The most difficult thing in entering a market with three existing entertainment guides, a newspaper, and a newsmagazine was to be taken seriously by our colleagues as well as our advertisers. It was interesting to see that while a group of 20somethings appealed to the community and began building an impressive readership immediately, we’re still battling the idea that our age is somehow reflective of our abilities. Additionally, being the new guy in town is always a difficult order. My team and I are faced with the quotidian struggle of proving our competency to business owners around the state.

PPQ: Is it successful now and how do you gauge that?

Rayes: The answer is simple: numbers. At the end of the day, I am a businessman. While I give everyone that is a part of Flame plenty of leeway through creative license, I do have to make some tactical or operational decisions that not everyone is always happy with. Overall, when considering the many different facets of success in this business, I think I can gauge it best by looking at how well our readership outreach initiatives have done, how many businesses and organizations are now willing to work with us, and how much potential for growth we still have.

PPQ: Have you experienced significant changes in publication size, and when did you see that occurring?

Rayes: We haven’t. We’re currently looking into feedback requesting a more recurring print issue. Whereas Flame Magazine will continue to be published monthly in its current format, an additional, smaller entertainment guide, Flame Nightlife, may be introduced to the market soon.

PPQ: Are you facing new challenges and what are they?

Rayes: We minimize our challenges by staying true to our vision. We highlight local members of the community and their endeavors only in a positive light. I use my time with advertisers only to build on how to continue promoting the community and our relationships. No gossip. No drama. No exceptions.

PPQ: How does the publication differ now from its original inception, and what is the most popular feature?

Rayes: To build a brand, we’ve essentially kept Flame true to its original concept. The magazine has a commitment to be a platform to profile LGBT individuals, companies, and organizations representing a positive and refreshing vision in the community. My mission was to promote the concept of community by building something that would become for the gay community, by the gay community. I think the application of having a feature instead of an array of super good-looking young men and women (like ourselves) on the cover has really set us apart. Flame is truly the only real magazine with hearty content and editorials in this region.

PPQ: What advice do you have for others working in LGBT media?

Rayes: This is a tough but enjoyable industry. While you’re having fun, pay heed to the changes happening around you. Your readership is the most valuable asset you have. As you change or grow, don’t relinquish your print readership for web or mobile development, but don’t lose potential readership gain by falling obsequious to status quo. And don’t be threatened by the idea of competition. With a community as colorful as ours, there’s always something for everyone. If you can identify something that is missing, create it and tap into that segment of the market.

Volume 15
Issue 6

Monday, September 23, 2013

IN THE NEWS: NFL’s Brendon Ayanbadejo edits Washington Blade’s sport issue; Equality Forum offers LGBT media ways of covering LGBT History Month

NFL’s Brendon Ayanbadejo edits Washington Blade’s sport issue
by Joe Siegel

A recent all-sports issue of the Washington Blade had a special guest editor, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.

The issue featured news and commentary from leading sports figures, including lesbian tennis player Martina Navratilova, gay footballer Wade Davis and University of Maryland wrestler and Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor, among others.

Blade Editor Kevin Naff came up with the concept of an issue dedicated to sports with a focus on LGBT athletes.

“I'm a big sports fan and professional sports remain a largely closeted area of American life,” Naff said. “The message was simple: To tell LGBT stories, which is the common denominator in all the stories we do. LGBT voices have been largely invisible in professional sports for too long. It's time to crack open one of the last closets in public life. We need to tell those stories and encourage more athletes, coaches and fans to come out.”

Brendon Ayanbadejo
The Blade team approached Ayanbadejo after the Ravens won the Super Bowl earlier this year.

“He's been the most visible straight ally in professional sports since 2009, so he was an easy and obvious choice,” Naff said.

For Ayanbadejo, the fight against LGBT discrimination is very similar to the struggles faced by people of color in the United States.

“President Lincoln died for what he believed in — that every man is created equal just as stated in the Constitution,” Ayanbadejo wrote in the special issue. “But 150 years later in 2013, we continue to fight for the same things we fought for in the Civil War — the civil rights and equal rights of every single American man, woman and child. We will continue to spread our message of love, freedom and equality not only in the United States but worldwide.”

Ayanbadejo believes he has a responsibility as a public figure to promote the cause of LGBT equality: “As an athlete I realize that I have the ability to traverse the territory between sport and entertainment. I would much rather improve people’s lives than entertain, so I chose to start voicing my views on issues that resonated with me and my personal life. The Super Bowl was witnessed by more than a billion eyes and ears. The timing couldn’t have been better, even though I have been publicly campaigning for equality since 2009. What was a grassroots movement is now one of the most relevant topics in America and around the world.”

Response to the issue has been favorable, according to Naff. “The sports issue was covered by USA Today, BET, the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and many other outlets. Some were surprised that a straight Super Bowl champ would edit a gay newspaper; others were surprised that the Blade was devoting so much ink to non-political news. But all the feedback was positive.”

Naff added that the Blade hopes to make the sports issue an annual event with a different guest editor each year.

Equality Forum offers LGBT media ways of covering LGBT History Month
by Joe Siegel
Thirty-one prominent LGBT icons – one for every day of the month – are being profiled in honor of LGBT History Month in October.
Philadelphia-based Equality Forum, an international LGBT civil rights organization with an educational focus, has devoted a website for the purpose of honoring activists, entertainers and other prominent LGBT people.
The website includes free video and print content for all 31 icons. The site also includes ideas for LGBT media. They include embedding the LGBT History Month videos on your website, tying in stories about the LGBT icons with “local icons” in your readership area, downloading high-resolution photos of all the icons, and exploring local angles of all the 31 icons by using the site’s “icon search” function. There are also detailed biographies and bibliographies of each icon. Visitors to the site can also access the list of LGBT icons dating back to 2006.
“One of the things we're trying to do is highlight the remarkable resources available through icon search,” Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin explained. “There are over 150 tags or categories. This is year eight [of the project], so there are 248 icons are now in the database.”
In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.
Gay and Lesbian History Month was endorsed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association and other national organizations. In 2006, Equality Forum assumed responsibility for providing content, promotion and resources for LGBT History Month.
The nominations were reviewed by LGBT History Month 2013 Co-Chairs George Chauncey, Yale University’s Samuel Knight Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department; Jennifer Brier, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago; and Don Romesburg, Assistant Professor, Sonoma State University. Professors Brier and Romesburg are co-chairs of the Committee on LGBT History at the American Historical Association.
This year’s icons include CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas, historian Martin Duberman, playwright Edward Albee, film historian Vito Russo, Holocaust survivor Gad Beck, transgender hero Gwen Araujo, South African activist Zackie Achmat, and actors Nathan Lane and George Takei.
Volume 15
Issue 6

Monday, September 16, 2013

TOP STORY: A call for the end of LGBT media “doom and gloom”

Annual LGBT Media Summit examines the industry’s past in order to inform and strengthen its future 
by Chuck Colbert

Over more than four decades, LGBT media outlets have stirred a movement, sustained a community and created a market. That legacy and gay media’s future took center stage recently at a gathering of more than 300 journalists and public relations professionals.

The occasion was the LGBT Media Summit, held Thursday, August 22, in Boston. It was the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s 9th gay-media-specific convening, traditionally held a day before the organization’s yearly convention, which ran August 23-25.

In fact, two summit plenary sessions tackled the topic of the ever-changing LGBT media landscape. A new book by Tracy Baim served as a catalyst for discussion at the breakfast plenary, “Gay Press, Gay Power:  Ensuring LGBT Media’s Future by Examining Its Past.”

Baim serves as Chicago-based Windy City Times publisher and executive editor. Her 468-page magnum opus, “Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America” was published within the last year (

Press Pass Q editor Fred Kuhr moderated the session, featuring Baim, two contributors to the book, and LGBT media industry veteran Todd Evans, chief executive officer of Rivendell Media, the nation’s leading gay and lesbian ad-placement firm. (Rivendell Media is also publisher of Press Pass Q.)

“In going through Tracy’s book,” said Kuhr as moderator, “I was amazed at how many publications started or are still newsletters for volunteer organizations.” The staying power of many of these publications, he noted, stems from “the passion we have and not just the paycheck.” Twenty years ago, Kuhr served as editor of Vermont-based Out In The Mountains, a largely volunteer effort that has since folded.
David Webb (l-r), Todd Evans, Chuck Colbert, Tracy Baim
and Fred Kuhr at Opening Plenary of the NLGJA LGBT Summit
(Photo: Jean Albright)

Indeed, said Baim, “It’s important to understand how difficult it was to publish as openly gay people [back then], with no advertising base, just the bars. Those gay journalists and publishers survived in a much worse situation than we have today.” 

Baim was referring to the aftermath of the Great Recession and the Digital Revolution, both of which have greatly shaken up the media industry — mainstream, alternative and LGBT.

Throughout her nearly three-decade career in gay media, moreover, she has seen it all — the boom years of the 1990s to the decline of LGBT newspapers since.

And yet, for all the challenges — for instance, finding new revenue streams and monetizing the web — Baim served up enough optimism about LGBT media, which is truly an industry in and of itself. While readily acknowledging being as “optimistic as depressed” while producing her work, she said. “It’s important to show our history because I still believe we have a future, and I hope the book addresses that.”

Historically, regional gay media, particularly weekly LGBT newspapers, have served as vital sources of information for their local communities. 

A good example is Dallas Voice, founded in 1984.

Plenary panelist and veteran journalist David Webb, a seven-year staff writer for the venerable weekly, spoke about gay-press power even in a red state like Texas. Webb contributed a book chapter detailing Dallas Voice’s storied past.

“When I saw the first issue of Dallas Voice,” Webb told plenary attendees, “I knew that this was a serious newspaper. It approached issues of gay and lesbian people as a newspaper, no doubt about it. It was not frivolous.”

Dallas Voice “was responsible for changing so many minds about our community,” everyone on down from “city council members” to the general public, Webb added. “Our audience was as much the official part of Dallas as it was the gay community. I cannot stress as much how important Dallas Voice was in making the LGBT community a political force in Dallas — more than I would have dreamed because Dallas is extremely conservative, or was. Things have changed dramatically, and Dallas Voice was a major force in making that happen.”

If there was a take-away lesson from the Dallas Voice phenomenon and that of other successful LGBT publications, explained Rivendell’s Evans, “It is mostly the tenacity of the publisher that creates a successful gay publication,” one that is “fully integrated into your community.”

A case in point: Webb voiced praise for former publisher and Dallas Voice founder Robert Moore. “He was frugal, invested money, and saved for what might come,” said Webb.

With past as prelude, then, the media summit’s lunch plenary, “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast:  What Do LGBT Media Need to Do to Survive” addressed LGBT media’s future — its adaptability on a landscape where change is the name of the game.

The luncheon plenary featured five panelists, including Windy City Times publisher Baim, Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff, Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) publisher Mark Segal, Boston Spirit magazine publisher David Zimmerman and Rivendell’s Evans.

Survivability of LGBT print media includes a range of concerns, everything from finding new revenue streams to declining print-run page numbers, from decreased circulation to reduced geographic range of print-run distribution.

But PGN publisher Segal confronted head on the idea of the “doom and gloom of gay media,” that its “golden years [are] in the past.”

“Bullshit,” he said. “If your paper has good journalism, people will read it.”

As for print vis-à-vis new media on the Internet, “None of them, for the most part, can say, as some of us can say, we have 14 or 15 full-time employees with full benefits,” explained Segal. “Obviously, we are doing something right. For PGN, it’s all about good journalism.”

Still, he advised, “Don’t be afraid of new media. It will help you. It may be a part of your future.”

In fact, all plenary panelists spoke to the need for a robust web presence for their publications.

“Our belief, very clearly, is not to be a gay newspaper, but a newspaper first that works for the LGBT community,” said Segal.

As an example of such utilitarian journalism, Segal pointed to PGN’s 10-year-old investigative reporting on the death of Nizah Morris, “a transgender woman who got quote-unquote a courtesy ride home by the police and ended up dead,” he said.

“That story from our work resulted in four federal, state and city investigations,” prompting “numerous changes in the Philadelphia Police Department,” said Segal. “Some say drop it. We never will until it’s solved.”

Other panelists, too, offered helpful strategies, suggestions and anecdotes in highlighting successes for their publications.

“What’s working for us is a pretty broad mixture of things,” said Blade editor Naff. “Print advertising is pretty strong and doing well locally this year.”

Still, the Blade does “things that 10 to 20 years ago were unheard of,” he explained, citing special sections and specialty publications, including Pride, film festival and camp guides, as well as sports and back-to-school sections of the newspaper.

“Digital advertising revenue is still a small piece,” said Naff, although “email subscription has been great.”

“We are always looking for new revenue streams,” he said, pointing to the Blade’s start-up of a small boutique-marketing firm. Its focus, Naff explained, would be “a separate business going after non-creative stuff,” for example, “non-profits’ published magazines and annual reports — not sexy stuff, but there is a lot of business there.”

To survive and to thrive, said PGN’s Segal, “the business of newspapers is innovation." As an example, he pointed to collaboration with other media outlets, specifically PGN’s partnering with and the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Additionally, “We created what we call the Philadelphia Multicultural Newspaper Association,” he said, aligning PGN with major black, Hispanic, and Asian publications — all in the name of creating “a force of diversity.”

“I suggest you make coalitions with the diversity you have in our city,” said Segal.

Although surviving and thriving are a little different for magazines, Boston Spirit publisher Zimmerman agreed that collaboration is working for his publication, pointing to a partnership with and work with Bay Windows, the local LGBT weekly.

Boston Sprit is a glossy LGBT lifestyle and entertainment magazine, published six times a year and mailed free of charge to subscribers.

“Because we are only eight years old, branding is still important to us,” said Zimmerman. “One of the things we do is to connect our readers with our advertisers. It’s not simply a situation where they send us their ad copy and we send back a tear sheet to reconnect when the next issue comes out. We felt strongly that we had to come up with a lot of different avenues and ways to prove our value to our advertisers and connect our readers to advertisers.”

To that end, Boston Spirit distributes a monthly email to subscribers that typically has “six to 10 offers, promotions, special events, things along that line, that come from our advertisers and non-profit partners,” said Zimmerman. “It’s a nice venue for our advertisers, adds value for them, doesn’t cost us a tremendous amount and has worked very well for us.”

Boston Spirit has also been creative in generating new revenue streams by hosting a series of events throughout the year. The publication’s biggest gathering is its annual LGBT networking night, which has drawn hundreds of attendees eager to mix and mingle with employers and advertisers, as well as bask in the glow of headliners, celebrities the likes of Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, and Chaz Bono.

"All of our advertisers get to exhibit at the event at no charge,” said Zimmerman. “They get to market their business in a face-to-face setting with 1,000 LGBT corporate professionals from all around.”

“We do make money on the event because we get corporate sponsorships,” he said.

Other events include Boston Harbor sunset cruises in partnership with Fenway Health, a local medical care facility serving the LGBT community. Earlier this year, the magazine sponsored its first Pride in Sports gala.

Cutting expenditures, too, guides Boston Spirit. “We don’t pay for anything that we don’t have to pay for,” Zimmerman said. “We are not early adaptors of technology. If it doesn’t affect the bottom line, we don’t invest in it.”

For his part, Rivendell’s Evans, who views the LGBT media industry largely from a numbers perspective, also served up hope for print media. “I am really bullish on the market,” he said. “Ad spending in total sales was $322 million in 2012 — a five percent increase from 2011. That is really an outstanding fact in and of itself. Gay print media is as strong as it ever was. If it’s not strong for your particular publication, you  have to take a look within your organization and see what your are doing there to improve the situation.”

Of course, “The backbone of most local gay publications is local advertising,” said Evans. “The biggest problem I see is not keeping that relationship with the advertiser on the local level.” 

He added, “Your publication is the best sales tool you have.”

(Editor’s note: Press Pass Q editor Fred Kuhr and contributor Chuck Colbert served as co-chairs of the LGBT Media Summit, sponsored by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Colbert moderated the lunch plenary and was a panelist for the breakfast plenary.)

Volume 15
Issue 6

SIDEBAR: Founders of Philadelphia Gay News and Bay Area Reporter honored by gay journalists group

by Chuck Colbert

As a three-day convention of gay media professionals concluded in Boston, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA), in a significant nod to LGBT media, inducted two founders of gay weekly newspapers into its Hall of Fame.

They are Bob Ross and Mark Segal. The late Ross, who died in 2003, was founder of the Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco. Segal is founder, owner and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News.

Bay Area Reporter's Matthew S. Bajko 
BAR assistant editor Matthew S. Bajko, who started at the paper in 2001, was on hand at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel to accept the honor during a closing reception.

"To say Bob fit the caricature of a newspaperman depicted in old films noir is an understatement," said Bajko, who also writes the paper's weekly print and online political columns.

Ross, said Bajko, "would sit in his office smoking his beloved cigars working the phones, as he refused to use a computer."

"He was a treasure trove of stories about San Francisco's LGBT community and political infighting at City Hall," Bajko added. "As the new reporter on the beat, I learned quickly that the best way to get a politician or nonprofit leader to return my calls was to casually mention to Bob how difficult it was to reach them. Within minutes, they were on the phone eager to be interviewed."

In terms of his contribution to journalism, Bajko explained, "Bob was truly a visionary. At a time when many gays and lesbians had no voice and were afraid to speak out, Bob saw the need to provide that platform."

For example, Bajko said, Ross “hired his friend, Harvey Milk, as a political columnist and backed Milk’s bids for elected office. He used the pages of BAR to shame politicians who did not support gay rights and championed those who did.”

Ross was also philanthropic as well as civic and arts minded. “He quietly funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to local LGBT charities and AIDS agencies over the years. And he was a strong backer of the San Francisco Ballet whose board he served on and civic manager of the famous Golden Gate Bridge, on whose public oversight body he was a member for years,” said Bajko.

Ross, along with Paul Bentley, founded the BAR on April 1, 1971. Bentley sold his interest in 1975. By 1979, then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein was asking Ross and San Francisco Sentinel publisher Charles Lee Morris to investigate the city police department's response to riots following the sentencing of Dan White for the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Milk, then a city supervisor.

One of Ross' most trying challenges was how to respond to the AIDS crisis beginning in the early 1980s. He decided in 1983 on extensive coverage. That year, BAR reported that 40 percent of all persons with AIDS were members of minority groups, demolishing the idea of AIDS as a gay white disease. In 1984, as tensions emerged between health concerns and preserving a culture of sexual freedom (the latter supported by his editor, Paul Lorch), Ross sided with health regulations. Subsequently, Lorch left the newspaper.

When Ross died in 2003 of diabetes complications, he left an estate of more than $11 million in addition to BAR itself.

Before his death, Ross established the Bob Ross Foundation to give money to a wide variety of Bay Area causes, ranging from AIDS organizations to the San Francisco Ballet.

Earlier this year, it was estimated that the foundation will give away all of its money by 2023, including proceeds from a legal requirement that it sell at least 80 percent of BAR by 2016.

On August 1, the paper formed a new company, BAR Media Inc., to meet that legal requirement. The paper's new publisher is Michael Yamashita. Thomas E. Horn, who had served as publisher, now heads up the Bob Ross Foundation, as has been the case since Ross's death. Todd Vogt and Patrick Brown, with the San Francisco Newspaper Company, are the other two investors.

NLGJA established the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame in 2005 to recognize journalists for their commitment, courage, and dedication to LGBT issues in the media. Since then, NLGJA has honored a total of 23 journalists in the LGBT community.

PGN’s Segal, 62, this year's other Hall of Fame inductee, was also in Boston. A living legend in his own right, Segal recalled the early, struggling days of LGBT media and PGN in the 1970s.

Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News
"Local LGBT publications were brand new," he said. "In our first office, when it rained outside, it rained inside. Our plumbing was literally jars in the basement of the building. It wasn't too long ago when I tried for 15 years [unsuccessfully] to become a member of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. Today, I sit on their board."

Along the way, he added, "PGN has won awards from practically every major journalism organization, from the National Newspaper Association to the Society of Professional Journalists," among others.

Back in the day, however, when PGN operated "with no toilets and water coming through the ceiling, I realized that newspapers can't be done with volunteers," Segal said. "That's how PGN became a business because if you want to have good journalists, you have to pay them. That's what being a newspaper is all about. It's about journalism, good journalism."

And Segal left little doubt about the stature of LGBT media vis-a-vis mainstream outlets. In Pennsylvania at least, "PGN will be treated like you treat the dailies and any other media – and no less," he said.

In a subsequent PGN column, “Road to the Hall of Fame,” Segal offered additional thoughts on success in print media.

“Stories that readers can get only in your newspaper bring readers, so publications shouldn’t be afraid of controversy and strong opinion pieces, and allowing those who disagree with you in your letters to the editor or in op-ed pieces,” he wrote.

Segal founded PGN as a monthly newsletter in 1976, after being inspired by the late Frank Kameny when they met in 1970.

Before Segal started PGN, however, he was a gay activist. In 1972, after being thrown out of a dance competition for dancing with his male partner, Segal crashed the evening news broadcast of WPVI-TV in what became known as a "zap."

By 1973, Segal, along with Harry Langhorne, calling themselves Gay Raiders, had zapped “The Tonight Show,” “Today,” “The Mike Douglas Show,” and the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite,” that time holding a sign saying "Gays Protest CBS Prejudice."

At Segal's April 1974 trial for zapping Cronkite, the CBS anchor asked Segal for details on the gay community's media complaints. As a result, the “CBS Evening News” substantially increased its coverage of gay news and Cronkite became a supporter of gay rights.

In 1975, Segal went on a hunger strike and a took part in a sit-in at the Philadelphia City Council to call attention to the need for a gay-rights ordinance. In 1976, PGN used Pennsylvania Department of Justice memos to show that state police were entrapping gay men seeking sex. In the late 1970s, PGN was publicizing how legislators voted on laws that concerned the gay community.

By 1981, PGN published a series about drug and alcohol abuse within the gay community and was mainstream enough to boast about its straight readership. In 1993, Philadelphia magazine's "Best of Philadelphia" gave Segal a Clout Award.

"To be recognized by your peers is one of the most wonderful things that can happen in anyone's life," said Segal in a recent telephone interview. "I think it's really a complement to LGBT media and what we have gone through in the last 40 years or so to build our industry. I thank those in mainstream media for recognizing that."

(Editor’s note: Versions of this article first ran in Bay Area Reporter and Windy City Times.)

Volume 15
Issue 6