Wednesday, March 25, 2015

6th LGBT Media Journalists Convening held in Philadelphia

Invitation-only conference brings LGBT media professionals together "to discuss issues related to queer media"
by Chuck Colbert

A select group of LGBT media professionals, including journalists and bloggers who cover the LGBT community, gathered recently for a weekend forum concerning a range of community issues and media-related concerns.

Sponsored by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and funded by the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, the 6th annual LGBT Media Journalists Convening was held March 13-15 at the Radisson Blu Warwick.

A private family foundation based in San Francisco, the Haas fund "promotes equal rights and opportunities with an emphasis on immigrants and gays and lesbians," according to its mission statement.

NLGJA board member Bil Browning, founder and publisher of the Bilerico Project blog, organized the weekend forum. Also representing Bilerico was its editor in chief, John Becker, who wrote about the gathering.

"The purpose of the invitation-only conference is to bring a diverse group of LGBT media personalities together to discuss issues related to queer media," wrote Becker in a preview piece. "The theme of this year's Convening is ‘Now What?’ and the sessions ... focus[ed] on exploring what happens in the LGBT civil rights movement beyond marriage and employment equality.”

For example, Saturday’s panel discussions and breakout sessions addressed the latest right-wing push to legalize discrimination based on “religious liberty,” reporting of HIV, media coverage of bisexuality and bisexuals, and the intersection between LGBT rights and struggles for racial and gender equality.

The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and a prime mover in the state’s Moral Monday movement, delivered the opening keynote address on Friday evening.

An assistant district attorney for the City of Philadelphia announced that Mayor Michael A. Nutter proclaimed March 14 as "LGBT Media Journalism Day."

The Convening’s host committee included, in addition to Browning, The Source Weekly’s associate editor Erin Rook, NLGJA’s vice president for print and digital media Sarah Blazucki, transgender rights advocate and freelance writer Brynn Tannehill, editor in chief Trish Bendix, Mark King of the My Fabulous Disease blog, Faith Cheltenham of the BiNet USA blog and Haas Foundation senior program director Matt Foreman.

The Convening received other preview press coverage by LGBT outlets.

Browning told The Source Weekly: "For journalists focused on the LGBT beat, an invitation has become quite the status symbol for being recognized as a valuable community reporter." He went on to say that because it's not uncommon for writers to cover a variety of issues pertaining to diversity, the conference seeks to reflect the diversity of the community in its attendees and presenters. "We specifically aim to bring in not only the LGBT state/local newspapers and large audience bloggers, but we also search for up-and-coming voices and try to lift up the voices of people of color, trans folk and women."

In the same piece, associate editor Rook spoke to the value of attending the annual gathering. "The lessons I take away from these conferences have a broader impact than simply sharpening my reportage on LGBTQ issues," he wrote. "Participating in the Convening makes me a better, all-around journalist by teaching me how to better cover diverse communities of all types and how to dig deep for new stories and new angles. Spending the weekend with 75 professionals and experts gets the gears turning about ways I can better serve my community as a journalist. And I always leave with new perspectives” and tools “to do my job better."

South Florida Gay News also did a preview piece in which Browning spoke to the issue of diversity: "Many of the larger outlets are still run by cisgender white men so we try to also reflect the diversity that is our community,” especially in online journalism. “Often these journalists are the only ones reporting in any depth on issues like race, class and gender. The intersectionality of our community and how we can translate LGBT-specific needs into broader issues is the focus of this year’s Convening.”
Other attendees offered their impressions and observations.

Zack Ford, LGBT editor of and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, offered his perspective. "Those of us who write about LGBT topics may sometimes compete for traffic on our websites, but we're largely still a team working together to raise visibility and awareness about issues affecting the queer community," he said in email correspondence. "Conferences like this are the perfect opportunity for us to connect with each other, learn from each other's expertise and experience, and find new ways to lift up each other's work and build off of it. I relish the opportunity to put handshakes to Twitter profiles and establish new partnerships as we all continue doing this important work."

For her part, host committee member Tannehill said in an email, "I think my favorite part of the conference was meeting Spectra Asala. She was amazing, and after her panel I spoke with her at length. I learned a lot about the intersection of colonialism, and the growth of homophobia and transphobia in West Africa. I learned a bit about her home country as well, and it was so new to me that it was mind-blowing.”

Asala, an award-winning Nigerian writer and women's rights activist, served on a panel called "What Happens When the Dog Catches the Car?" The focus was on the future of LGBT media coverage in a post-marriage-equality landscape. Other panelists included Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) senior media strategist of national news Tiq Milan and activist and author Urvashi Vaid. Associate editor Rook served as moderator.

First-time Convening attendee Tammye Nash, Dallas Voice managing editor, said in email, "Getting to meet other LGBT journalists and bloggers actually working in LGBT media, rather than in the mainstream, was certainly one of the highlights of the weekend for me. Talking to them about the issues we all face and ways that maybe we can address those issues made the whole weekend worthwhile.

“I also enjoyed listening to the panelists and hearing their points of view. I can't say I agreed with everything everyone said. But it was all certainly food for thought. It made me think about things from points of view I had not considered before.

"Rev. Barber's address on Friday night was amazing, one of the most powerful I have heard in a long time. I totally agree with his points about a fusion movement, something that was echoed repeatedly throughout the weekend when people spoke of intersectionality and working with allies. And Tiq Milan's comment about how LGBTQs really aren't one community but instead a coalition of communities really hit home."

For Rebecca Juro, freelance journalist and columnist for South Florida Gay News and Windy City Times, two highlights were Rev. Barber's keynote and the panel "Naming and the LGBTQ Community" moderated by Brynn Tannehill. "It was the best trans-relevant discussion of the day," she said in email.

"I liked the way trans issues were handled very much," Juro noted. "It felt to me like trans people and issues are fully integrated in this event, and that feels really good. Trans people can be an afterthought in politics and in straight media much of the time, but that's not the case here, and it shows in just about every way."

For Juro, "The best part of the Convening is the networking and comparing notes with other LGBT journalists. I always learn so much from that, and it definitely helps inform the opinions I express in my columns and op-eds." 

Washington Blade staff writer Michael Lavers also voiced gratitude for the Convening providing "a wonderful opportunity for LGBT media professionals to connect with each other and exchange ideas and feedback about how to better report on the issues about which they write.

"This year's Convening seemed to focus a lot more on advocacy as opposed to what one may describe as objective reporting or even basic journalism in a traditional sense. I am a journalist who has an obligation to report on the issues … without overtly taking the side of one particular point of view. I certainly understand and very much appreciate the fact that journalists can bear witness to history, injustices, etc., as my colleagues and I have done at the Blade since 1969. I am not, however, an activist and I am uncomfortable with the term being used to describe me as a reporter for an LGBT publication.

"I left the Convening somewhat disappointed that there was not more of an opportunity for journalists to explain to the advocates who were in the room why we do/don't do certain things in our reporting and how the constraints of our profession prevent us from doing so. These conversations would prove extremely beneficial, and I hope that organizers of this year's Convening take that into account as they plan future gatherings.”

Volume 16
Issue 12


What’s happening at your publication? Let us know. Email editor Fred Kuhr at

AMBUSH MAGAZINE, based in New Orleans, La., entered its 33rd year of publication with its January 13, 2015, issue.

CAMP, based in Kansas City, Mo., unveiled its new website, which now includes full digital editions of its print issues, in February 2015.

CURVE MAGAZINE, based in Los Angeles, entered its 25th year of publication with its January/February 2015 issue.

DAVID ATLANTA entered its 18th year of publication with its January 7, 2015, issue.

GET OUT MAGAZINE / EAST REGION, based in Queens, N.Y., published its 200th issue on February 18, 2015.

GLOSS MAGAZINE, based in San Francisco, entered its 13th year of publication with its January 9, 2015, issue.

LETTERS FROM CAMP REHOBOTH, based in Rehoboth Beach, Del., entered its 25th year of publication with its February 13, 2015, issue.

OUTSMART MAGAZINE, based in Houston, Tex., entered its 22nd year of publication with its February 2015 issue.

SHE MAGAZINE, based in Davie, Fla., celebrated its 16th anniversary in its February 2015 issue.

SOUTH FLORIDA GAY NEWS, based in Wilton Manors, Fla., celebrated its 5th anniversary in its January 28, 2015, issue.

TAGG, based in Washington, D.C, entered its fourth year of publication with its January/February 2014 issue.

WIREMAG.COM, a magazine based in Miami, Florida, entered its 27th year of publication with its January 1, 2015, issue.

Volume 16
Issue 12

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Florida Agenda owner acquires FunMaps

by Chuck Colbert

Multimedia Platforms, the gay-owned parent company of Florida Agenda and Guy magazine, has acquired FunMaps, “a 33-year-old LGBT travel and leisure publishing company delivering local and regional maps, information, and advertising to more than 40 key North American cities,” according to a press release announcing the acquisition.

"FunMaps was our first acquisition target after going public because we believe it brings key components to the company,” said Bobby Blair, chief executive officer of Multimedia Platforms (MMP), in a press release.  “Through FunMaps, we have inherited an expanded market for our content-rich Agenda newspaper, with its world-renown writers and globally-relevant content, plus the existing FunMaps print publication, with a readership of over five million per year, thousands of vendors and advertisers in established markets throughout United States and Canada. FunMaps’ robust online directory/city guide,, features largely in our new social media network – launching in 2015.”

FunMaps produces Gayosphere, which “makes planning your trips easy and rewarding, all while connecting you to our world,” according to its website. “With over 30 years of experience in the mapping industry, we are proud to be the online gateway for GLBT travel.”

“It’s now official,” said FunMaps founder Alan H. Beck, quoted in the Miami Herald. 

The acquisition had been in the works since January. The deal became final in early March.

FunMaps publisher Beck will remain with the company for a period of at least three years and will provide leadership and liaison for MMP with his established market. As an integrated part of MMP, FunMaps’ established distribution territory to destination regions — including Atlanta, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, and Washington, D.C. — now become part of the MMP market footprint.

"I have been building FunMaps for nearly 25 years. Now, I am now very pleased to have it be, in our next phase, a part of the next leap in the evolution of LGBT media," said Beck in a press statement. "The infrastructure and management team MMP has put in place creates a framework and momentum that will propel the company further, and faster, around the globe, serving the LGBT community.”

Volume 16
Issue 12

Ohio’s Outlook Media to publish LGBT Wedding Guide

by Joe Siegel

Columbus-based Outlook Media is publishing its first-ever wedding guide for same-sex couples, in addition to sponsoring a number of LGBT Wedding Expos around the state.

This is somewhat unusual since marriage equality is not the law of the land in Ohio.

Love Big LGBT Wedding Expos “offer a safe and welcoming place for LGBT couples to meet vendors who are committed to marriage equality and excited to serve the LGBT community,” said Christopher Hayes, publisher of the Love Big LGBT Wedding Guide.

The Love Big LGBT Wedding Guide is a free, full color, perfect bound 9" x 10.875" premium paper stock magazine featuring equality-minded vendors servicing the Ohio market. The advertorial-focused guidebook is complimented by original industry-focused content. Fifty thousand copies of the magazine with be distributed statewide annually to wedding vendors, shops, universities, restaurants, coffee houses, libraries, community centers and subscribers. 

Complimenting the print magazine, The Love Big On-Line Directory is an interactive resource for consumers interested in equality-minded vendors.
Ohio does not legally recognize same-sex unions, so LGBT couples have to go out of state to get their marriage licenses. 

Hayes explained that more and more Ohio same-sex couples are choosing to hold their big religious ceremonies and receptions back in the Buckeye State. 

The first expo was held last year in Columbus and was so well-received that Outlook expanded to other cities in Ohio.

All expos will bring together wedding and ceremony vendors from a variety of wedding-focused specialties. Love Big also features vendors geared toward issues affecting married couples. Because LGBT couples aren't legally recognized in Ohio, they have concerns such as  finances, taxes, inheritance, real estate, medical issues and adoptions, Hayes noted. “Love Big has vendors willing to answer and instruct couples on legal, property, family, medical and financial concerns.”

The first Love Big Wedding Expo in the series will be held at Hollywood Casino in Columbus on Sunday, June 2. The event was originally scheduled for March 22, but had to be rescheduled due to what the newspaper called an “inner-office emergency.”

“Though we regret having to move the expo, we are excited to be able to kick off Pride month with this community event," said Hayes. "With the [U.S.] Supreme Court scheduled to release their decision in June on whether same-sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states, there couldn't be a more relevant time to hold Love Big."

With the rescheduling of the Columbus Expo, Love Big Dayton will now kick off the series. Dayton's expo will be at the Hilton Garden Inn Dayton/Beavercreek on Sunday, April 26. This event will feature wedding and ceremony vendors from across the Miami Valley and beyond. Additionally, the expo will feature a fashion show curated from local and national designers, a singles bar with speed dating, brunch, specialty cocktails and special performances from drag comedy troupe The Rubi Girls.

Other expos in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo will be held in the fall. Dates and locations will be released in the spring.

Part of the proceeds from the expos will go to Why Marriage Matters, an education initiative created by Equality Ohio.

Volume 16
Issue 12

Texas A&M houses new collection of LGBT books and magazines

by Chuck Colbert

Last fall, Texas A&M University acquired a collection of more than 6,000 books, magazines and journals on the study of LGBT communities in the U.S. The collection also includes some of the earliest gay newspapers.

The acquisition, titled The Don Kelly Research Collection of Gay Literature and Culture, is housed in the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives.
Materials from the Kelly collection will be on display in an exhibit opening on April 1 as part of GLBT Awareness Week. The date holds historical significance, marking the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed a gay student group to be recognized on campus at Texas A&M.

An openly gay man all of his life, Kelly, 74, is a retired civil servant of 36 years who resides in Houston.

"I am grateful to the Texas A&M administration, deans and departments for their unwavering support to house the collection," Kelly said in a library website posting. "I particularly would like to single out the staff at Cushing Library for their many kindnesses and courtesies in bringing the acquisition to fruition. It is my fervent hope the collection will spotlight this diversity and give due recognition to this great center of learning; as well as further enlightening minds and opening hearts in the wider community as to the talents and gifts of gay people. If this be so, I take pride in this legacy."

Library officials welcomed the acquisition of the new materials. "The process of acquiring this collection was among the most satisfying since I have come to Texas A&M," said David H. Carlson, dean of University Libraries, in a library website posting. "With just this single collection, the University Libraries becomes one of the premier collections in the country for scholarly resources in LGBT literature." 

A recent Houston-based OutSmart magazine article discussed Kelly and his interest in LGBT life and culture. Kelly told assistant editor Megan Smith that he “was initially inspired to start his collection after discovering author Anthony Slide’s book ‘The Lost Gay Novels,’ which discussed 50 novels from the early 20th century that told stories with gay themes and characters. ‘I thought by collecting the listed titles, I would have a fun and interesting project, which would allow me to reflect on the gay condition, and maybe tell me something about myself,’ Kelly says. Over the next year, he collected first editions of 48 of the 50 books listed.

"One thing led to another, and soon Kelly was collecting everything from campy pulp fiction to AIDS literature to some of the first gay periodicals. In reference to the former Kelly laughs and adds, ‘They"re so sleazy.’ What started out as a strictly gay male collection has since expanded to include lesbian, bisexual and transgender literature as well. When asked how he finds and purchases each new acquisition for his collection, Kelly laughs again and says, ‘I had to learn to use eBay. I’m a technological dinosaur.’”

Kelly told OutSmart he intends to keep on collecting: "Since Texas A&M purchased his collection, Kelly has acquired over 2,000 additional published materials — all of which he has donated to the university at no extra cost. ‘I do it for all the gay people I’ve known in my life,’ Kelly says. ‘For all the prejudice that I’ve felt and I know they’ve felt. For all the people who died of AIDS and for all the people who are still dying from addiction. It’s also not just for the gay community, but for the larger community as well, so they understand more about the gay community. As long as I’m alive and as long as I’m able, I’ll continue to do it.'"

Volume 16
Issue 12