Thursday, March 21, 2019

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

(What's happening at your publication? Let us know. Email editor Fred Kuhr at editor@presspassq.com)

THE FIGHT, based in Los Angeles, celebrated its 8th anniversary with its February 2019 issue.

G PHILLY, the online LGBTQ news section of PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE, was shut down on December 19, 2018. The coverage from that section will be folded into the main magazine.

GOLIATH ATLANTA entered its fifth year of publication with its February 2019 issue.

GRAB MAGAZINE, based in Chicago, entered its 10th year of publication with its January 8, 2019, issue.

LEFT MAGAZINE, based in San Francisco, published its final issue in December 2018 after five years of publication. Publisher and founder DAVID HELTON made the announcement in a personal essay in which he also announced he is getting married to his partner JEFF KALUZNY, who was also the magazine’s director of operations.

LETTERS FROM CAMP REHOBOTH, based in Rehoboth Beach, Del., entered its 29th year of publication with its February 8, 2019, issue.

JASON A. MICHAEL, a reporter for Livonia, Mich.-based BETWEEN THE LINES, released his first novel, entitled “EASIER SAID,” on February 9, 2019, on his own JAM BOOKS imprint.

OUTSMART, based in Houston, Texas, entered its 26th year of publication with its February 2019 issue.

SOUTH FLORIDA GAY NEWS, based in Wilton Manors, Fla., published its largest issue ever on February 20, 2019, at 124 pages. It also held its ninth anniversary part and community awards celebration on January 23.

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES
Volume 20
Issue 12

LGBTQ Community Survey looking for partners

by Fred Kuhr

The 13th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey is coming up fast, and San Francisco-based Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) is looking for community partners for this year's project.

CMI is an LGBTQ market research company founded in 1992. Every year for six consecutive weeks between March and June, CMI partners with 200-plus LGBTQ media, non-profits, and events from around the world to conduct the annual LGBTQ Community Survey. Survey topics include but are not limit to social/political issues, health issues, personal finance, consumer products, entertainment, and media consumption.

Last year, the survey had over 45,000 participants from 150 countries. 

“As a partner, you are to promote the survey to your readers/members through your website, email newsletter, social media,” Lu Xun, CMI’s research director. “Your organization’s name will be listed in the survey and the final report.”

Plus, “If you were able to achieve 200-plus completes, you would get an extra frequency report about your readers/members, which is very important in media/sponsorship kit development.”

In addition to providing overall LGBTQ market-specific data, the survey also gives publication-specific data to participating media outlets. CMI “is helping to promote the LGBTQ market," said Todd Evans, president and chief executive officer of the LGBTQ ad placement company Rivendell Media, which also publishes Press Pass Q.

In all, the benefits of CMI’s data for individual LGBTQ publications are three-fold, explained Evans, noting that participation in the survey is free.

“Media properties get their own reader demographics if they put the effort in to get enough responses. Facts and figures are crucial for sales leads. This is a real win-win for everyone in the LGBTQ marketplace as CMI is helping the whole LGBTQ market by stimulating conversation and creating news for and about the LGBTQ market, and that is seriously lacking today,” said Evans. “Madison Avenue is all about facts and figures for market justification, and CMI helps put momentum behind the LGBTQ market with their findings. I’ve heard naysayers, but I don’t think they understand the big picture nor have the business experience to understand that participation far outweighs any negatives.”

For more details about the partnership, to review last year's survey results or to sign up to be a partner, go to http://survey.communitymarketinginc.com/se/359D342B44C28401

TOP STORY
Volume 20
Issue 12

Were we too quick to side with Jussie Smollett?

by Joe Siegel

When “Empire” star Jussie Smollett claimed to have been the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime last month in Chicago, LGBTQ media expressed sympathy for the openly gay actor.

But now, Smollett has been indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct by a Cook County, Illinois, grand jury. According to CNN: “The indictment says Smollett told police he was attacked by two men who used racial and homophobic slurs during an attack at 2 a.m. After police detained two brothers who were ‘persons of interest’ in mid-February, police sources revealed that authorities suspected Smollett knew the men and allegedly had paid them $3,500 to stage the attack.” Smollett has denied any involvement in orchestrating an attack.

Actor Jussie Smollett
In a February 2 story in Atlanta-based Georgia Voice, writer Katie Burkholder noted that Smollett gave a statement to Essence magazine about the attack: “Let me start by saying I’m okay,” he said in a statement addressed to the “beautiful people.”

“My body is strong, but my soul is stronger,” Smollett continued. “More importantly, I want to say thank you. The outpouring love and support from my village has meant more to me than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”

Burkholder noted, “Smollett received tons of support and love from ‘Empire’ cast and crew on social media, as well as from other celebrities.”

So was LGBTQ media too quick to rush to Smollett’s defence?

Tammye Nash, managing editor of the Dallas Voice, believes LGBTQ news outlets need to support the community as well as hold its members accountable. Nash defends the Smollett coverage.

“I think that the horror, anger and outrage were certainly natural reactions, and people were obviously going to offer sympathy to Smollett,” Nash said. “And while LGBT journalists could, from a purely personal standpoint, express that outrage and sympathy, from a professional standpoint, we needed to react like journalists and stick to the facts. Some people, I think, jumped on the Jussie bandwagon a little too quickly, and maybe others have been too skeptical. Neither reaction really comes from an ‘unbiased’ standpoint.”

“Objectivity is of paramount importance,” added Andrew Davis, publisher of Chicago’s Windy City Times. “We constantly use words such as ‘allegedly’ and ‘reportedly’ in order to avoid sounding like we're convicting anyone, even in the court of public opinion.”

“As for the LGBTQ media, I believe that standards should be objective as well, regarding news,” Davis added. “We have an op-ed page if people — including editors — want to express opinions.”

The Washington Blade and Los Angeles Blade used a slightly different strategy with its coverage.  “[We] covered the Smollett case as an entry point to a larger discussion of the dramatic rise in hate crimes since President Trump took office,” said Kevin Naff, editor for the Washington Blade.

The covers of both publications featured a full-page cover photo of Smollett with his quote as the headline: “Black Queer People Are Victimized Every Day.”

Naff believes the Smollett story may have long-lasting negative repercussions for minority communities.

“Clearly, anti-LGBT and racist elements in our society now feel emboldened and validated,” Naff added. “They have the president's bully pulpit on their side. The Smollett case is an isolated, unfortunate and wrong-headed stunt that backfired. It trivializes the devastating impact that actual hate crimes have on our community. But it shouldn't overshadow the fact that under Donald Trump, hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people and people of color have spiked.”

Jeremy Williams, central Florida bureau chief of Orlando-based Watermark, took on the political ramifications of the story in his editorial in the February 21 issue.

“The joy and excitement coming from the right is disturbing, but what is also disturbing to me is the attacks from the left saying if you don’t believe Smollett then you don’t believe any victims,” wrote Williams. “Yes, it is important to believe victims. But it is equally important not to ignore facts. Ignoring the mountains of proof in front of your face just to keep from admitting you were wrong is exactly what the left has accused the right of doing under the Trump administration when it comes to climate change, immigration and more.”

Mark Segal, publisher and founder of Philadelphia Gay News, weighed in with an editorial entitled, “The question of Jussie Smollett.”

“Being black and gay and open about it is brave, and comes with it much hate,” he wrote in the February 22 issue of PGN. “So, no matter the outcome of this incident, Smollett has already suffered, and possibly been broken by that hate. But, either way, it is heinous — the hate crime or the invention of a hate crime. And, while we don’t know yet which is true, we need to realize that one person is not an entire group of people, whether black or LGBT.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 12

Blade cover with Lindsey Graham reignites outing debate

by Joe Siegel

The practice of “outing” homophobic politicians and celebrities was widespread in LGBTQ media in the 1990s, but later died out. 

A recent series of reports about U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) sexual orientation has reignited the debate about outing.

The Daily Caller website reported on a recent Washington Blade story titled “Meet D.C.’s Most Eligible LGBT Singles.” Graham’s face appeared on the cover.

“There was a sub-headline that read, ‘Sen. Lindsey Graham didn’t quite make the cut,’ but did not clarify that the article about Graham was completely unrelated to the article about the eligible singles.”

Graham was actually mentioned in a different article entitled, “Is It Homophobic To Speculate About A Politician’s Sexuality?”

In that article, author James Wellemeyer asked whether or not it’s ethical to “out” politicians — and appeared to land on the position that, as long as the person has “done no harm” to the LGBT community, it’s probably not very nice to “out” them as a political tactic.

Sen. Graham has received a zero percent score from the Human Rights Campaign for each of his terms in office. He also opposed repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He has repeatedly denied being gay.

A 2010 story in QNotes, based in North Carolina, stated: “Twitter, Facebook and gay blogs are aglow after D.C.-based activist and blogger Mike Rogers announced on Twitter: ‘I wonder if Lindsey Graham knows I have pictures of a man who spent the night at his house.’”

Later, Rogers tweeted: “Just reached lawyer at home. Meeting set for Tues. on releasing pix of man who spent night at Lindsey Graham’s.”

“Rogers has outed several other high profile GOP elected officials and staffers, including (former Idaho senator) Larry Craig,” QNotes added. “None of Rogers’ several outings have ever proven false, a track record that’s landed him the infamous title, 'Most Feared Man on Capitol Hill.’”

But according to QNotes publisher Jim Yarbrough, “I/we do not think it is acceptable to out someone in the LGBTQ or HIV/AIDS community unless they have done something that would harm the community in some significant way.”

Tammye Nash, managing editor of the Dallas Voice, has a similar viewpoint.

“If someone is closeted, we leave them alone as long as they leave us alone. But if they start trying to harm us, they are fair game for outing,” said Nash. “For instance, if we had credible evidence that First Baptist Church of Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress were gay, we would out him, because he consistently, deliberately and with much malice and forethought attacks the LGBT community and works against our well-being.” 

“It is not our right to decide how any individual lives their life, in or out of the closet,” explained Mark Segal, publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. “Outing someone who is supportive of the LGBT community is exploitative and sensational. But there is one exception to that rule and there’s one word that explains it clearly: hypocrisy. If a public figure, who we know to be LGBT, speaks out against our equality, it would be our responsibility to call out the privilege of his/her closet.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 12

Grindr controversially closes online magazine INTO

by Fred Kuhr

INTO, the online LGBTQ magazine owned and operated by Grindr, was shuttered in January after a 17-month run. But did Grindr make the move to refocus its efforts or out of retribution for a story corporate headquarters didn’t like?

According to a joint statement from several INTO employees, “The company will be refocusing its efforts on video and as such, the editorial and social teams were let go. … We feel that INTO’s closure is a tremendous loss for LGBTQ media, journalism, and the world.”

INTO, which launched in August 2017, published news articles, op-eds and advice columns. The outlet’s journalism won awards from NLGJA (formerly known as the National Lesbian and Gay Journalism Association) and the Transgender Legal Defence and Education Fund.

“We told stories of transgender prisoners forced to endure nightmarish treatment behind bars, LGBTQ asylum seekers looking for hope and refuge in the United States, and drag queens fighting for space and community in small town Tennessee,” the joint statement stated. “We shared the hopes and joys of the LGBTQ community, our successes and setbacks, and our triumphs and heartaches during a vulnerable political moment.”

In a statement, a Grindr spokesperson said the decision to dismiss INTO's staff was a "strategic shift in focus."

“As with any growing business, we have to continually evaluate what is best for Grindr. After a thoughtful and collaborative process, Grindr’s leadership decided to modify INTO’s content mix to rely more heavily on video," the spokesperson told NBC News. "With this strategic shift in focus, several INTO employees will be leaving the company. This was a difficult decision and one that we do not take lightly. We want to thank these colleagues for all of their contributions to Grindr and our community.”

However, Grindr’s dismissal of INTO’s editorial staff comes just six weeks after the site published a story about Grindr President Scott Chen’s controversial comments about same-sex marriage.

“Some think marriage is between a man and a woman. I think so, too, but it’s a personal matter,” Chen wrote on November 26, 2018, in a Facebook post that was translated from Chinese. “Some people think the purpose of marriage is to have your own biological children. It’s a personal matter, too.”

Chen, who has been an executive at Grindr since Chinese gaming company Kunlun acquired the app in 2017, shot back at INTO’s story, saying it took his marriage comments out of context.

Chen’s comments, however, led to at least one executive leaving the company in protest. Two weeks after INTO reported on Chen’s controversial comments, the company’s then head of communications, Landon Rafe Zumwalt, reportedly stepped down.

“As an out and proud gay man madly in love with a man I don’t deserve, I refused to compromise my own values or professional integrity to defend a statement that goes against everything I am and everything I believe,” Zumwalt wrote on the website Medium.

Zumwalt told NBC News he was not surprised by the closure of INTO and called it “extremely sad for the queer community.” When asked whether he thought the closure may be related to the publication of an article critical of Grindr’s president, Zumwalt said “no comment.”

INTO’s former managing editor and Grindr’s former chief content officer, Zach Stafford, also left the company a week after Zumwalt, but Stafford did not make any public comments about whether Chen’s Facebook post influenced his decision to part ways with the company.

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 12

Mark Nagel, co-owner of Chicago’s Grab Magazine, remembered

by Fred Kuhr

For the first time in its 10-year history, Grab Magazine’s cover logo was not red, but black, as a way for the publication to mourn the loss of co-founder and co-publisher Mark Nagel.

That was the February 19 issue of the magazine. Two weeks earlier, on February 4, Nagel died at home from an epileptic seizure. He was 57.

Mark Nagel
In an open letter to readers, Grab publisher Stacy Bridges detailed how the two men met while working at Gay Chicago Magazine. They both left that publication in 2009 to launch Grab.

“For over 26 years, Mark recognized the vital role the press plays in the advancement of the LGBTQ community. His work has emphasized the importance of providing a localized publication for our community, businesses and causes,” Bridges wrote. “… Mark was also involved in many organizations and helped anyone he could. In the 1990s at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Mark delivered meals to people who were dying. I once asked him how he stayed strong, and his response was, ‘I had to, I wanted to be there when no one else was there to help them.’”

According to Chicago’s Windy City Times, Nagel “leaves behind a long legacy of work and philanthropy in the the community. Besides his work at the magazine, Nagel also helped produce the annual Grabbys adult entertainment awards and gave both his time and money to several area-charities, especially ones assisting persons with HIV/AIDS. … Nagel was involved with, among other organizations and projects, Center on Halsted, Ride for AIDS Chicago, Chicago House, Heartland Alliance and Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN); indeed the philanthropic component of the Grabbys ceremony benefits that latter organization. Nagel was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2017.”

Activist Lori Cannon recalled Nagel’s tireless philanthropy to Windy City Times. “Mark was tireless in his commitment in finding ways to support Open Hand Chicago,” which Cannon founded in 1988. “Some of the best food drives we had in our 30-year history were because of Mark Nagel and his unique talent of reaching out to celebrities, or promoting locations where barrels would be put up for collection.”

Brad Balof, the general manager of Chicago landmark video bar Sidetrack, posted on Facebook: "Mark Nagel made Chicago a better place. The landscape of our community will be different without him, but he changed it for good. You will be missed by many!”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 12

LGBTQ-friendly candidates, including a Republican, continue to enter presidential race

by Joe Siegel

(This is the third in a planned series of interviews with local media professionals who have covered candidates as they announce their presidential candidacy.)

The 2020 Presidential campaign has a growing group of contenders vying for the Democratic nomination. Senators Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) and Bernie Sanders (Vermont), Governors Jay Inslee (Washington) and John Hickenlooper (Colorado), and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (Texas) have launched their candidacies, along with self-help author Marianne Williamson. Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld is challenging President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

Sanders, 77, has served in the U.S. Senate since 2007 and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990. Sanders, known for his liberal positions on social and economic issues, challenged Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination in 2016.

“Bernie consistently earned a 100 percent Human Rights Campaign rating and was one a handful of House members who voted against the Defence of Marriage Act in 1996,” said Paul Olsen, a former writer for now-defunct Vermont newspaper Out in the Mountains. “Sanders has consistently sided with the LGBTQ community and we represent an important part of his support in Vermont."

In 1983, while serving as mayor of Burlington, Sanders supported the city’s first-ever gay pride march. 

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke
O’Rourke, 46, was hailed by the Dallas Voice as “among [the] strongest new LGBT allies in Congress,” according to a headline from January 2013, when he was first elected to the House. He gave up his seat in the House last year to run for the Senate against Ted Cruz.

According to the accompanying Dallas Voice interview from 2013, “On the El Paso City Council, O’Rourke led a fight for domestic partner benefits and after a referendum to overturn those benefits passed, he led a successful fight to overturn the domestic partnership ban. … O’Rourke said he’s Catholic as well but believes in a woman’s right to choose and believes that marriage equality is a basic civil right and a federal issue. … He said when [his then-congressional opponent] attacked him for supporting marriage equality, he talked about same-sex couples establishing stable homes and stable relationships and how those things were good for their children."

Hickenlooper, 67, served as Colorado’s governor from 2011 until January 2019. He previously served as mayor of Denver for two terms.

Hickenlooper’s support of same-sex marriage has earned him the support of One Colorado, a Denver-based advocacy organization.

“When I first ran for mayor, the LGBTQ community really rose up and from the beginning strongly supported me, and I think I may have missed one, maybe two, Pride parades when I was sick or out of town, but that’s it,” he told Denver’s OutFront Magazine in January. “It’s been a great partnership. Colorado, if you look at it, we have as strong and vocal a gay community as any state in America. Everyone talks about California or Massachusetts, but I think we stand right up there with them.”

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar, 58, was first elected to the Senate in 2006. In a 2011 Washington Blade story, Klobuchar had supported repeal of the Defence of Marriage Act. “I would vote to repeal this law because I believe same-sex couples and their families should have access to the same basic rights, including hospital visitation and survivor benefits,” Klobuchar said.

Inslee, 68, is the current governor of Washington. He previously served in Congress.

In 2018, Inslee signed into law a ban on “ex-gay” conversion therapy. “Conversion therapy is not so much therapy, it’s abuse, and we are today prohibiting the abuse of our children, conversion therapy, which has caused scars for decades across the country of something that is inhumane and not acceptable in the State of Washington,” Inslee was quoted as saying in a Washington Blade story.

Williamson, 66, is an American spiritual teacher, author, lecturer, entrepreneur, and activist. She has written 13 books.

Williamson proclaimed her support for LGBT equality in a 2014 interview with Curve magazine. “I am a strong supporter of LGBT rights and believe that all Americans, including those in the LGBT community, should be able to get married, pursue a livelihood free from discrimination and have all of the rights afforded under the U.S. Constitution — not because of their sexual orientation but because they are American. It is as simple as that,” Williamson said. “It is also critical that we remove any policy or legislative barriers that restrict parenting and parenting rights by LGBT parents, including second parent adoption.” 

Weld, 73, served as governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. During his time, Weld was a strong supporter of LGBT rights, unique for a Republican at the time.

Trump GOP challenger William Weld
According to a 2012 story in the Washington Blade: “In 1992, Massachusetts’ then-governor, Republican William Weld, appointed a Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. That commission recommended that schools protect students by, among other things, including gay content in school curricula and libraries. Anti-LGBT forces unsuccessfully sued to challenge that. One couple who joined the suit objected that their son was read a story at school about two princes who fell in love with one another.”

A 1996 Harvard Crimson editorial praised Weld for his support of legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

Much of a candidate’s past can be mined from LGBTQ media coverage in their home state or city, much as Chicago’s Windy City Times made national headlines in 2009 when the newspaper reported out the complete answers then-state senate candidate Obama gave in 1996 to a questionnaire from Outlines newspaper (which merged with Windy City Times in 2000). That survey showed that Obama supported marriage equality, even though he supported only civil unions for same-sex couples in 2009. For more of our coverage of this year’s candidates, go to https://presspassq.blogspot.com/2019/01/presidential-candidates-have-record.html and https://presspassq.blogspot.com/2019/02/lgbtq-media-offer-insights-into-growing.html

(Editor Fred Kuhr contributed to this report.)

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 12

PRESSING QUESTIONS: Philadelphia Gay News

Interview with Publisher and Founder Mark Segal
by Joe Siegel

(If your publication has never been featured in PRESSING QUESTIONS, and you'd like it to be, email editor Fred Kuhr at editor@pressassq.com)

PPQ: What feature or features of Philadelphia Gay News have been the most popular with readers?

Publisher Mark Segal: Hard news, Local, local, local.

PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it?

Segal: Jim Austin [a friend who ran the Pittsburgh Gay News] at a time when most people in the LGBT community were in the closet, we felt that the paper should be clear on its mission in its title. We were OUT, proud and we were going to cover the news, views, opinions and issues of our community.

PPQ: What challenge or challenges is Philadelphia Gay News facing now?

Segal: The same as all media at present. Media is changing and how people consume it. We need to speak to this change, and be able to deliver the same level of professionalism.

PPQ: How has Philadelphia Gay News changed since it was first launched? 

Segal: At start up, with little funds and volunteers. Soon we learned that volunteerism would not allow us to become the professional publication we envisioned. We then moved to a business model with Associated Press editorial standards.

PPQ: What one change would you like to make? 

Segal: A newspaper is alive, and must be current and change with time. We change as the community grows.

PPQ: What are the biggest news stories Philadelphia Gay News has covered?

PGN's Mark Segal
Segal: A long list. We published the first news reports on lesbian nuns. We covered and ran exposes on the AIDS bicycle fund raisers. Trans murders and racism have been covered in PGN since its very first year. 

PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 [exclusively straight to totally gay], how gay is your publication?

Segal: Our news and features must always have an LGBT slant. Our readership is approximately 80 percent LGBT and 20 percent allies.


PPQ: Do you see yourselves as “activist journalists”? If so, in what way? 

Segal: Yes, we come to the journalistic table with a point of view that our community is fighting for equality.

PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own LGBTQ publication?

Segal: Note the change in publishing and that, in our community, newspapers are king. By that I mean that they employ more members of our community and reach a larger segment of our community than any other form of LGBT media.

PRESSING QUESTIONS
Volume 20
Issue 12