Tuesday, January 21, 2020


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

BETWEEN THE LINES, based in Livonia, Mich., announced that the publication is switching to a new biweekly format in 2020. It published weekly until the end of 2019. Publishers JAN STEVENSON and SUSAN HOROWITZ also announced that the print edition will be focused more on features while the website PRIDESOURCE.COM will increasingly be the outlet for breaking news and resource listings.

Amy Young of Echo Magazine
GOGUIDE MAGAZINE, based in Iowa City, has published a digital-only special edition in advance of the Democratic caucuses next month. The magazine interviewed several candidates through a year-long presidential forum and published these interviews in the magazine. This special edition expands on those interviews with added information and opinions. The expanded issue is available online at www.GoGuideMagazine.com.

HOT SPOTS, based in Orland Park, Fla., entered its 35th year of publication with its January 2, 2020, issue.

LOS ANGELES BLADE entered its fourth year of publication with its January 3, 2020, issue.

PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS entered its 44th year of publication with its January 3, 2020, issue.

AMY YOUNG, managing editor of Phoenix, Ariz.-based ECHO MAGAZINE, celebrated her first anniversary with the magazine in November 2019.

Volume 21
Issue 10

Most hold off on endorsing, while SFGN backs Mayor Pete

by Joe Siegel

Despite the landmark candidacy of openly gay Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, many LGBTQ publications are holding off on endorsing candidates for the upcoming caucuses and primaries.

“At this point, we have made no decision on an endorsement or if we will make one,” said Paul Schindler, editor of New York’s Gay City News. “The New York primary is April 28, and when we last made a presidential primary endorsement — in 2008, when we endorsed Obama — we did so shortly before the primary here. We did not make an endorsement in 2016. By the time of the New York primary, Hillary Clinton, in our judgment, had essentially clinched the nomination.”

The Dallas Voice also has no immediate plans to endorse candidates. “In our more than 35 years of publishing, we have only endorsed one political candidate, Hillary,” said Editor Leo Cusimano.

Dallas Voice Managing Editor Tammye Nash added, “We believe that for a media outlet to choose a single candidate from among a field of qualified candidates, that media outlet should take the time to completely vet each and every candidate, preferably via individual interviews with each candidate or at least via interviews by media partners, such as our fellow members of the National LGBT Media Association.”

Nash, however, hasn’t ruled out an endorsement in the future. “Once we move beyond the primary elections, we might be more likely to endorse a candidate because we believe at that point, the differences between the candidates will be very obvious and the question of which candidate is the best choice — for the LGBT community and for the country overall — will be crystal clear.”

Tim Nedoba, editor of GoGuide Magazine of Iowa (home of the first in the nation caucus or primary), believes LGBTQ media need to “take a stand” and endorse candidates.

SFGN's Norm Kent
“We must support candidates that stand with LGBTQ+ people at all times and not just when it's politically convenient or politically safe,” Nedoba said. “Of course, Mayor Pete is a unique candidate. He's gay all the time. However, he's not hiding the fact that he's gay. He's campaigned with his partner in Iowa. It's a beautiful story.”

Nedoba intends to co-endorse two of the candidates. “There is a significant difference in candidates when it comes to issues relevant to the LGBTQ communities of Iowa.”

Unlike many of its counterparts, South Florida Gay News, based in Wilton Manors, has already endorsed Buttigieg.

In his November 7, 2019, column, Publisher Norm Kent said Buttigieg was “an honest man with a unifying voice; a man who addresses problems instead of creating them. Mayor Pete will build bridges, not walls. … He has made us proud and will make our country stronger. He is one of us who speaks for all of us.”

According to a story in the Seattle Gay News, a November poll of LGBTQ voters favored Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by a nearly 2-to-1 margin over her rivals in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“According to YouGov, Warren's popularity among LGBTQ voters is ‘probably reflective of the fact that the LGBTQ voters in this survey identify as much more liberal than the Democratic primary electorate writ large,’” SGN reported.

Volume 21
Issue 10

Is PrEP an LGBTQ media responsibility?

by Joe Siegel

Do LGBTQ media have a responsibility to promote condom use and PrEP?

San Francisco-based Bay Area Reporter (BAR) recently reported on a study which showed a majority of HIV-negative young adults don’t use condoms or the HIV prevention protocol known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). 

According to a story written by John Ferrannini, BAR’s associate editor, “In what one researcher said was 'jarring, 54 percent of HIV-negative young adults didn’t report using condoms or PrEP — two critical tools in preventing the spread of the virus that causes AIDS — according to the results of a survey released by pharmaceutical company Merck November 25.”

The national survey, "Owning HIV: Young Adults and the Fight Ahead," was conducted last summer in conjunction with the Prevention Access Campaign. The survey questions members of both the millennial generation, defined as ages 23-36, and Generation Z, defined as ages 18-22 for purposes of the study.

Ferrannini found the results “surprising” and noted his story ran on the front page of the paper as part of their World AIDS Day coverage last December.

The study led to a discussion about whether or not it is the responsibility of LGBTQ publications to promote PrEP and/or condom use.

“Our responsibility is to report the truth, wherever it leads,” said Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade. “PrEP is an important tool in the fight against HIV.”

New York’s Gay City News has always taken an active role in promoting HIV prevention, according to Editor Paul Schindler.

“We had always, pre-PrEP, encouraged condom use. … At one point, [we also] talked about ‘negotiated safety,’” Schindler said. “Given the safety involved in proper PrEP use, it's safe to assume most people use PrEP because they don't want to use condoms. But folks need to understand that PrEP is not a morning-after pill. The New York City health department has begun to educate folks about how PrEP need not be used daily, but that if it is used intermittently it needs to be done so in careful coordination with the schedule of sexual activity — which strikes me as hard to predict.

“In any event, people need to understand that PrEP is effective when used properly — whether daily or in coordination with their expected sexual encounters,” Schindler continued. “So they need to educate themselves on what the requirements are and stick to them. HIV is treatable — in most cases effectively — but avoiding infection remains the best course both for a person's personal health and for public health.”

Leo Cusimano, editor of the Dallas Voice, explicitly stated, “We do not advocate for PrEP. We do advocate for safer sex practices. But mainly what we try to do is report accurately on the latest treatments and medical breakthroughs involving HIV/AIDS. Our responsibility is to report the news that affects our community.”

Cusimano says the drug companies are largely responsible for promoting HIV prevention products. “These companies need to know how to reach their target audience. Our current infection rates are reflected in the lack of advertising for PrEP by these companies in local LGBT media.”

Volume 21
Issue 10

Wisconsin’s Our Lives restructures, looks to go statewide

by Fred Kuhr

Patrick Farabaugh, publisher of Madison, Wisc.-based Our Lives Magazine, has stepped back into the role of editor amidst a “painful buyout” and the demise of his Milwaukee rival.

Patrick Farabaugh
The staffing change and planned restructuring occurs a year after the Wisconsin Gazette, based in Milwaukee published its final issue after nine years in business. Publisher Louis Weisberg told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the time that the Gazette never broke even during its time in business, never attracting enough advertising revenue to support it.

In response, Farabaugh has been exploring ways of expanding Our Lives into a statewide news source. “To do so involves some revisioning of how we do and accomplish this work,” he wrote in the magazine’s November/December 2019 issue. “So I’ve begun working with an attorney to establish a nonprofit arm for Our Lives, and a web development company to build the next phase of what Our Lives will look like.”

The print publication will remain a local news entity, while its website “is going to become a much more robust portal” in 2020, with a more statewide focus.

Farabaugh also revealed that he bought out his business partner in what he described as a “painful” process. Most, however, did not know he had a business partner. “I did my best to not let that struggle translate to how readers experienced the magazine. It lead to one of the hardest years the magazine and myself has had recently, and some challenging decisions.”

So now, Farabaugh is running Our Lives as the only full-time staffer. “This has been an intentional decision that has been in the works for almost a year now, with the goal of building our cash reserve back up after the aforementioned buyout, and to give the magazine solid footing.”

He’s not alone, however. Emily Mills, the magazine’s editor emeritus, remains a regular freelancer, as is her predecessor Virginia Harrison, who is also the magazine’s copy editor. Harrison has also stepped into the roll of  features editor.

“The goal of the thinner staff is to give the magazine greater flexibility to maneuver through some restructuring,” wrote Farabaugh.

Volume 21
Issue 10

NEWS ANALYSIS: 2019’s Surprise Star and a Looming Future

by Lisa Keen
Keen News Service
(This report was previously published by the Keen News Service, which  covers national political and legal news for LGBT news media organizations around the country.)

One might argue that 2019 was a pretty good year for LGBT people. An openly gay man rose to the top tier of a large field of Democratic presidential candidates. A second openly LGBT person was sworn into the United States Senate. A record number of openly LGBT candidates won office to Congress. Lesbian icon Ellen DeGeneres shared a box seat with former Republican President George W. Bush at a football game. And Republican President Donald Trump issued a statement to “celebrate LGBT Pride Month.”

Others might argue that 2019 was a year of looming and unresolved battles over the heart and soul of American democracy and the harbinger of uncertainty about the future for the political and legal movements for LGBT equality. However one assesses the year in LGBT news, here are some of the year’s most headline-grabbing news stories to consider.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg
BUTTIGIEG SURGES TO THE TOP: Pete Buttigieg’s success with his long-shot bid to win the Democratic nomination for president could probably take up all 10 slots of any “LGBT Top Stories” list for 2019. He became not only the first openly gay person to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, he raised enough support to participate in the first official Democratic debate, quickly surged to a top five slot in a field of more than 20 viable candidates, and held onto to that position while candidates who were much better known fell away.

His success continued throughout the year, helped by an early staking out of a moderate position just as progressive candidates were taking heat for appealing for dramatic changes, such as Medicare for All. Buttigieg pitched “Medicare for All Who Want It,” spoke openly about how his religious faith informs his views, and proved to be a respectful but formidable contender in debate. By December, he held first place in Iowa polling, second place in New Hampshire polling, and fourth place in national polling.

But with success in any presidential bid comes additional scrutiny and challenge. In May, two Republican operatives tried to promote a false accusation that Buttigieg had sexually assaulted two men, but both of those men denied the claims. In October, he was criticized for being too straight-looking and derided as “Mary Pete.” And at year’s end, Buttigieg was still struggling to prove he could win support from African-American voters and fending off suggestions that his post-graduate work for a conservative management consulting firm, McKinsey, included work that led to the loss of jobs for many.

So far, he has astutely navigated a daunting landscape and blown through a wall that most LGBT people expected would block a path to the White House for any gay person in their lifetimes. Win or lose, he could well become 2020’s top story, too.

SUPREME COURT TACKLES TITLE VII: The U.S. Supreme Court in October heard oral arguments about whether existing federal law — Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — already prohibits discrimination in employment based on two things: sexual orientation and gender identity.

The court’s eventual ruling on each issue, expected by June, will have profound consequences for LGBT people everywhere in the U.S. And it could be a mixed outcome: The court could rule one way for sexual orientation and a different way for transgender status.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch articulated that he was “really close” to seeing how the law already protects each category, but he said he was worried about the “massive social upheaval” that might take place if the court rules for either. Because Gorsuch is seen as being part of the conservative five-person majority on the court, media attention riveted to him following oral argument. But even progressive Justice Sonia Sotomayor hinted she was concerned about what the court’s ruling might have on the “raging” bathroom issue.

Those who fear change will argue that a “No” from the Supreme Court on either or both questions will simply preserve the status quo. But that status quo prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s LGBT status in only 21 states and provides little likelihood of passage for the Equality Act that seeks to provide protection nationwide.

HOUSE IMPEACHES PRESIDENT TRUMP: The Democratically controlled House of Representatives began impeachment proceedings late last year against President Trump, unleashing a torrent of partisan fighting for the very soul of the country. The two charges are: 1. Trump abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign government, Ukraine, to announce that it was investigating a rival 2020 presidential contender (lead Democrat Joe Biden), and 2. that he obstructed Congress by deliberately interfering with the ability of the House to interview crucial witnesses and examine documents.

There were a few openly LGBT players during the proceedings, including openly gay Reps. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-New York) who serve on the key committees involved in the impeachment proceedings. And Stanford law professor Pam Karlan was a key witness before one committee, serving as an expert on constitutional law regarding impeachment.

The Republican-dominated Senate is expected, largely along party lines, to acquit the president. That much is known and essentially predictable. What remains to be seen is how voters will respond in November’s presidential election.

HHS SEEKS TO DENY HEALTH CARE: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in May that it would “substantially revise” language in the Affordable Care Act to eliminate protections against discrimination based on gender identity in health care.

The announcement came just three days after HHS published a final rule that enabled health care providers to refuse to provide certain services by claiming they had religious or moral beliefs that compelled them to refuse. 

Such “Denial of Care” rules have been primarily aimed against women who seek an abortion or emergency contraception, terminally ill patients wanting to accelerate a painful dying process, and LGBT people generally. But by year’s end, three different federal district judges ruled that the finalized regulations were unconstitutional.

RELIGIOUS STORM CLOUDS GATHER: The long-standing legal battle continues to escalate. Laws which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation are being continuously challenged by churches and business owners who claim the First Amendment to the Constitution gives them a religious liberty to violate those non-discrimination laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court dispensed with two such cases in 2019 (refusing to hear Aloha v. Cervelli and sending back Klein v. Oregon), but more have arrived. The latest is Fulton v. Philadelphia, which asks the high court to overturn a Third Circuit opinion that a local government can refuse funding to a Catholic-run foster care agency because the agency refuses to abide by a city ordinance that prohibits sexual orientation discrimination.

HATE CRIME NUMBERS HAUNT: At least 22 transgender people of color were murdered in 2019, a statistic that has haunted the LGBT community and drawn the notice of many Democratic presidential candidates.

It’s not that the number itself was so different than in previous years (which averaged 22 per year), noted the Human Rights Campaign in its now annual report on violence against transgender people. It’s that they are now seen to reflect “intersections of racism, sexism and transphobia” in the United States that is “sometimes ruthlessly endorsed and enforced by those at the highest level of our government,” said Alphonso David, HRC’s new president.

The Hate Crimes Statistics report filed annually by the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed a 34 percent increase in the number of victims of anti-transgender crimes in 2018, compared to 2017. During that same time period, there was a nine percent increase in crimes against gay, lesbian, and bisexual victims, but a decrease in hate crimes victims overall.

The significance of these numbers is dependent in part on how well law enforcement agencies identify and report specific hate crimes. But there’s no denying that, if there is any inaccuracy in the reporting, the true incidence of hate crimes against LGBT people is likely higher and increasing every year.

SENATE CONFIRMS GAY MAN TO NINTH CIRCUIT: The U.S. Senate in December voted to confirm Patrick Bumatay, an openly gay prosecutor from San Diego, to a seat on the nation’s largest federal appeals court.

National LGBT legal groups said nothing, but Log Cabin Republicans hailed the appointment, noting that it makes Bumatay the “highest ranking LGBT jurist in the nation.” The only other openly gay person on a federal appeals court is Todd Hughes, who was confirmed to the Federal Circuit in 2013.

Meanwhile, the confirmation of Bumatay in December and a lesbian, Mary Rowland, to a U.S. District Court seat in Illinois, were overshadowed by confirmations of federal appeals court nominees vehemently opposed by LGBT groups, including Steven Menashi to the Second Circuit and Lawrence VanDyke to the Ninth.

TWO LGBT PRESIDENTIAL FORUMS: While LGBT issues were not an especially prominent topic during the nationally televised Democratic debates in 2019, there were two national presidential forums devoted to LGBT issues this year. Both involved Democratic candidates only, and one was nationally televised on CNN during prime time hours.

The first forum was live-streamed from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and most of the major Democratic candidates showed up. The CNN town hall in October was the first national television broadcast by a major media outlet of LGBT-specific discussion with presidential candidates. The latter was an opportunity for voters to hear how the candidates mostly agreed on a variety of LGBT issues and support equal rights and protection for LGBT people. It was also a chance for straight voters to see and hear from a wide diversity of LGBT audience members, asking their questions, expressing their concerns, and telling their stories.

TRUMP V. LGBT COMMUNITY: The Trump Administration has continued apace in its efforts to undermine rights and protections for LGBT people through the federal government. In 2019 alone, the Department of Defense was able to put the trans ban into effect while it is being challenged in court, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed rules to allow homeless shelters receiving federal funds to turn away transgender people.

In addition to HHS’s rules to allow health care providers to deny care to LGBT people, the Department of Justice took sides against LGBT people in important cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the reach of employment protections under the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII. The Department of Labor this year proposed a rule change to “clarify” that religious organizations could require employees “share” their religious beliefs, a move that LGBT legal activists say gives a green light to discrimination against LGBT people.

The list goes on and includes the departments of Education, Homeland Security, and State. It is a concerted effort to eliminate and/or diminish protections for LGBT people and it will almost certainly continue in 2020 — and beyond, should Trump be elected to a second term.

Katie Hill
KATIE HILL FORCED OUT: Openly bisexual U.S. Rep. Katie Hill was a rising superstar among the first-term Democrats entering the newly-minted Democratic majority in the House. She was one of only 14 Democratic members of the House to be voted by colleagues to the House Democratic leadership team, and she was designated vice chair of the House Oversight committee which was helping with the impeachment investigation against President Trump.

But by October, a right-wing website targeted her with claims that she had sexual relationships with a former campaign staffer and a current Congressional staffer. The website illustrated its report with photos of Hill nude in private settings. And the House Committee on Ethics initiated an investigation into whether Hill had a prohibited relationship with a Congressional staffer. Hill denied the charge but resigned her seat within days, saying she believes the attack had been helped by her estranged and “abusive” husband and “because of the thousands of vile, threatening emails, texts, and calls that make me fear for my life and the lives of the people I care about.”

In an op-ed essay for the New York Times, Hill made clear that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not force her to resign but rather “told me I didn’t have to” resign. Hill said that, ultimately, she felt she needed to resign “for me, my family, my staff, my colleagues, my community.” But in her farewell speech on the floor of the House, Hill vowed, “We will not stand down. We will not be broken, We will not be silenced. We will rise, and we will make tomorrow better than today.”

Volume 21
Issue 10

PRESSING QUESTIONS: Out and About Nashville of Nashville, Tenn.

Interview with Editor and Publisher Jerry Jones
by Joe Siegel

Geographic coverage area:
Middle Tennessee (Nashville and surrounding counties) 

Year founded:

Staff size and breakdown:
One publisher, one managing editor, one salesperson, and three volunteer writers/video reporters 

Key demographics:
59 percent gay male, 26 percent Lesbian, 4 percent bisexual male, 7 percent bisexual female, and 6 percent transgender;
45 percent make more than $100,000 a year; 
9 percent age 18-24, 22 percent age 25-34, 26 percent 35-44, 20 percent 45-54, 17 percent 55-64, and 6 percent 65-plus;
40 percent bachelor’s degree; 31 percent master’s degree or higher      

Jerry Jones


PPQ: What feature or features of Out and About Nashville have been the most popular with readers?

Editor and Publisher Jerry Jones: Tennessee has become such a challenging red state to live in that our political coverage has become popular. Nashville is very liberal compared to the rest of the state, and many of our readers forget they often live in that blue bubble around Nashville. 

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

Jones: When we started in 2002, we searched and searched for a name that discreetly said "gay" but not outright. A former colleague of mine, Bill Hance, actually came up with the name. We eventually shortened it on the masthead to O&AN.   

PPQ: What challenge has Out and About Nashville had to overcome since its inception?

Jones: Cash flow is always a challenge from a business perspective and we keep a close watch on that. From the community perspective, we are challenged with the balance of covering the many aspects of our community in a fair and balanced way.  

PPQ: What challenge or challenges is the publication facing now?

Jones: We simply do not have the staff, or funds to hire staff, to be able to cover the many issues — good and bad — that our community faces. As the world leans more towards visual storytelling (video, podcasting), all of this takes a lot of time and investment, and that's a challenge for a small business.

PPQ: How has the publication changed since it was first launched?

Jones: So much! We started as a newsprint tabloid and we mailed it free in a plain envelope to anyone who wanted it. We had an all-volunteer staff when we started and have grown into a paid staff. We are now a glossy magazine and distribute in more than 100 public places. 

PPQ: What one change would you like to make? 

Jones: I wish we had more support year round from companies instead of the once a year Pride issue. That support would allow us to expand our coverage and grow our staff. 

PPQ: What has been the biggest news story or stories Out and About Nashville covered? 

Jones: We did help close a non-profit because its executive director was pocketing money — that was a challenging story because people don't think we should throw stones at "our" own community. Additionally we've been honored enough to have an open door with past Nashville mayors and cover their administrations and policies.  

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

Jones: We would be a five. Our general policy is, if it's not local and not gay, it belongs with another media outlet. 

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

Jones: We didn't start out that way, like so many publications did. My undergraduate degree is in journalism, and I started O&AN so that Nashville would have a professionally written and well-designed publication for the community. Over the years, because of the political turmoil, we have become more prone to becoming activist journalists.

PPQ: What's the most surprising feedback you've received from a reader? 

Jones: Because we are a blue bubble in a red state, I've had many readers tell me personally how they felt like they were not alone in the world because, through us, they could see that there was an LGBT community that they could feel a part of.  

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

Jones: It's a challenge to start a new LGBT publication these days. Digital media has pulled away much of the ad dollars, and if you don't have lots — and I mean lots — of eyeballs on your digital media, you're not going to be able to fund much of an operation. I would ask the question, why do I need to do this, and what void am I filling in the marketplace? What type of revenue would support my idea? It takes a long time to build credibility with readers and advertisers, so be prepared for the first few years to be very lean.

Volume 21
Issue 10