Thursday, February 20, 2020

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

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

AMBUSH, based in New Orleans, entered its 38th year of publication with its January 14, 2020, issue.

BAY AREA REPORTER, based in San Francisco, entered its 50th year of publication with its January 2, 2020, issue.

FENUXE, based in Atlanta, entered its 11th year of publication with its January 10, 2020, issue.

GAY CITY NEWS, based in New York City, entered its 19th year of publication with its January 2, 2020, issue.

GLOSS, based in San Francisco, entered its 18th year of publication with its January 3, 2020, issue.

GRAB MAGAZINE, based in Chicago, entered its 11th year of publication with its January 7, 2020, issue.

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

OUTPOST, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., entered its 28th year of publication with its January 2020 issue.

PEACH ATL, based in Atlanta, entered its fourth year of publication with its January 8, 2020, issue.

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

THE RAINBOW TIMES, based in Boston, entered its 13th year of publication with its January 9, 2020, issue.

SOUTH FLORIDA GAY NEWS, based in Wilton Manors, entered its 11th year of publication with its January 1, 2020, issue.

TAGG MAGAZINE, based in Washington, D.C., entered its ninth year of publication with its January/February 2020 issue.

THE WASHINGTON BLADE, based in Washington, D.C., entered its 51st year of publication with its January 3, 2020, issue.

WATERMARK, based in Orlando, Fla, entered its 27th year of publication with its January 9, 2020, issue.

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES
Volume 21
Issue 11

Annual LGBTQ Community Survey seeks partners

by Fred Kuhr

The 14th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey is starting next month, and Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) is looking for community partners. 

CMI is an LGBTQ market research company founded in 1992 and based in Corte Madera, Calif. Every year starting in March, CMI partners with 200-plus LGBTQ media, non-profits, and events from around the world to conduct the annual LGBTQ Community Survey. 
CMI's Thomas Roth

“Through partnerships, we ensure that the diversity of the community is represented in the results,” said Thomas Roth, CMI president. “We’ve generated the participation of as many as 45,000 LGBTQ citizens from around the world.”

Survey topics include but are not limited to social/political issues, health issues, personal finance, consumer products, entertainment, and media consumption.

“As a partner, we ask you to promote the survey to your readers and members through your website, email newsletter, print ads, social media, etc. Partner organization names are listed in the survey and the final report,” said Roth. “And if you are able to achieve 200-plus completes, you will also receive a ‘frequency report’ of your readers/members, which is very useful in media/sponsorship kit development.”

Todd Evans, president and chief executive officer of the LGBTQ ad placement company Rivendell Media (which also publishes Press Pass Q), highly recommends that publications participate as community partners.

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 Evans.

“While it is free to participate, it is not without some energy to get the proper number of responses so that your own sales team gets your very own survey to use,” said Evans. For example, most spirits advertising requires independent proof of age and the CMI survey meets those requirements, he noted.

“I remember the days when it cost $100,000 for a group or $10,000 per title, plus a small fortune inserting and providing prizes, to get this same information,” said Evans. “So it really is amazing how far things have come from the old days in LGBTQ media.”

For more information about the partnership, to review last year's survey results and/or to sign up to participate, use the link

TOP STORY
Volume 21
Issue 11

New year, new biweekly Between The Lines

by Joe Siegel

Michigan’s LGBTQ weekly Between the Lines (BTL) has a new format and now publishes on a biweekly basis. Publishers Jan Stevenson and Susan Horowitz announced the changes in a December 18 editorial.

“As some of you may have already noticed, for some time now our editors and writers have been shifting BTL’s editorial design and focus to be more feature-oriented,” Stevenson and Horowitz wrote. “Our website, pridesource.com, has increasingly been our outlet for breaking news, events, resource listings, contests and more. In 2020 we will build on this trend, continuing to enhance our online presence and functionality while using the biweekly print edition of Between The Lines for longer, more in-depth looks at issues, people and projects that are the most important and interesting to our LGBTQ community.”

Jan Stevenson and Susan Horowitz (l-r)
Horowitz said the decision to go biweekly had nothing to do with the paper’s circulation figures, which have grown over the past several years.

“We have about 400 active advertisers in our print products — BTL and our annual Pride Magazine,” Horowitz explained. “Only a small handful were advertising every week — most were either already biweekly, monthly or on schedules unique to them. We have seen no decrease in print revenues on the biweekly schedule — in fact we are up over last year so far. Of course, our print bills and distribution expenses are cut in half, which we anticipate allowing us to put more resources into our website.”

Horowitz noted the change in format was necessitated by current trends in media.

“These days with such an accelerated news cycle, we are publishing stories and event announcements online daily — and we are choosing from that inventory when planning our print editions,” Horowitz said. “We are expanding those print stories into longer features and analysis. It just makes more sense given the changes in the way people receive their news.”

Horowitz said another reason for the change is the fact that almost all of Between the Lines’ advertisers are opting for a blend of print and digital advertising.

“We are committing to focus more resources on the digital products we offer,” Horowitz added, “and the biweekly print schedule allows us the time and money to build new features such as video, podcasts [and] live streaming that are especially interesting to our readers online.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 21
Issue 11

San Diego paper’s new owner rebrands as countywide

by Fred Kuhr

Late last year, Gay San Diego was bought by Sacramento, Calif., nightclub owner and magazine publisher Terry Sidie. The newspaper was then rebranded as LGBTQ San Diego County News.

Terry Sidie
Sidie bought the newspaper from publisher David Mannis, who was public about his want to retire and sell his remaining publishing interest. Earlier in 2019, he sold general readership publications San Diego Uptown News, San Diego Downtown News, Mission Times Courier, La Mesa Courier and the since-shuttered Mission Valley News to the San Diego Community Newspaper Group (SDCNG), led by Julie Main, who also happens to be Mannis’ ex-wife. (They divorced in 2002.)

“It has been an honor to publish Gay San Diego for the past decade,” Mannis wrote in a letter to readers. “I am proud to have been able to offer a platform for the LGBT community which has embraced us, and me. [But] it is now time to pass the torch.”

Under new ownership now, LGBTQ San Diego County News launched in October of last year with the tag line, “The paper of record for the community.” Longtime columnist Nicole Murray-Ramirez was promoted to associate publisher. Other staff remained in place, including editor Albert H. Fulcher.

In his own note to readers, Fulcher welcomed the changes. “There are many things I’m excited about. First, a larger staff so that we may bring more news to your local newsstand or electronic device. I believe that the best news coverage comes from the diversity of the team that is bringing the news to you. … As we get the team together, you will see more breaking news, investigative news, a larger span of coverage and I see more videos and podcasts in this newspaper’s future.”

Murray-Ramirez, in an interview with the San Diego Union Tribune, said that the name change reflects “the broader reach of the publication.” Murray-Ramirez also noted that the newspaper will develop a strong editorial voice, taking stands on issues. “We are going to take it to the next level.”

Fulcher noted that the newspaper is moving to become a non-profit “that will not only be able to serve the community with information, but to also support our local community and its organizations financially. This is a dream come true in my opinion and I believe wholeheartedly this is a great leap in other ways that we can continue to serve the community.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 21
Issue 11

Publications mark Black History Month

by Joe Siegel

LGBTQ publications are celebrating Black History Month with special features on civil rights activists, entertainers, and other historic figures. The Los Angeles Blade, for one, ran a story on February 6 about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pardoning of gay civil rights pioneer Bayard Rustin.

Though President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Medal of Freedom in 2013, the gay civil rights icon still had the stain of a 1953 ‘morals charge’ arrest in Pasadena on his lifetime of achievement,” wrote Karen Ocamb, news editor of the Los Angeles Blade. “Rustin’s pardon launches a new clemency initiative for people who were prosecuted in California for being gay.”

At Philadelphia Gay News, “We are doing a feature on [blues singer] Bessie Smith,” said editor Jess Bryant. “I also have op-eds lined up from various folks of color in the community. This week's will be from Larry Benjamin, who is in communications at Mazzoni, an LGBT health clinic.” PGN will also be covering an event from a “Black transmasculine group celebrating Blackness.”

Tagg Magazine, based in Washington, D.C., plans to run profiles and stories related to Queer Black History, said Editor Eboné Bell. One story profiles women including poet and journalist Alice Dunbar-Nelson, novelist Alice Walker, writer Audre Lorde, and Barbara Jordan, the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

South Florida Gay News, based in Wilton Manors, ran a feature on National Black HIV Awareness Day. “Now in its 20th year, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment among black communities,” SFGN reported. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 44 percent of new HIV diagnoses.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 21
Issue 11

GUEST COMMENTARY: Blade reporter held by ICE needs to be freed

by Kevin Naff
(Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. This editorial originally appeared in the newspaper’s January 17, 2020, issue and is reprinted here with permission.)

Yariel Valdés González, a Washington Blade contributing writer from Cuba, is enduring inhumane treatment while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in Louisiana.

Valdés, a professional journalist who works as a freelancer for the Blade, is seeking asylum based on the very real persecution he has suffered at the hands of the Cuban government. An asylum official who interviewed Valdés at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Center in Tutwiler, Miss., on March 28, 2019, determined he had a “credible fear of persecution or torture” in Cuba. His family in Cuba continues to receive death threats from government officials because of his work with “media outlets of the enemy.”

Early last year, the Cuban government ramped up its persecution of journalists, even detaining Blade
Yariel Valdés González (Photo by Michael K. Lavers)
International News Editor Michael Lavers at the airport before denying him entry and sending him back to Miami. The State Department’s Human Rights Report notes Cuba’s persecution of journalists. But those seeking refuge in the United States are finding that under President Trump, they not only won’t be welcomed, they may be imprisoned.

In a 2019 cover story for the Blade, Valdés described the horrific conditions of his confinement at the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility in Plain Dealing, La. Other Cuban asylum seekers at Bossier — some who have been held for nearly a year — greeted him with, “Welcome to hell.”

Detainees are treated like prison inmates. And remember: Seeking asylum is not illegal. Valdés has followed the legal process and his claims of persecution and fears of torture back home have already been deemed credible by the government. Yet he describes a harrowing life behind bars in which each day is a struggle to survive.

In his own words: “Each day inside of it is a constant struggle for survival that takes a huge toll on my physical, psychological and above all emotional capacities. More than 300 migrants live in four dorms in cramped conditions with intense cold and zero privacy. … My personal space is reduced to a narrow metal bed that is bolted to the floor, a drawer for my things and a thin mattress that barely manages to keep my spine separated from the metal, which sometimes causes back pain. The most painful thing, however, is the way the officers treat us.”

He reports the guards routinely disconnect the microwave, the television and deny detainees ice. When they complain, guards tell them, “This is not your country.”

The day begins at 5 a.m. with a lineup followed by breakfast. Meals are insufficient and dinner is at 4 p.m. leading to hunger pains by bedtime. Soup is used as currency among detainees. Medical services are inadequate or non-existent. As one detainee put it, “One who gets sick is put in punishment cells, isolated and alone, which psychologically affects us. People sometimes don’t say they don’t feel well because they are afraid they will be sent to the ‘well.’ In extreme cases they bring you to a hospital with your feet, hands and waist shackled and they keep you tied to the bed, still under guard. I prefer to suffer before being hospitalized like that.”

This is what the government is doing in our name and with our tax dollars: treating asylum seekers who are fleeing violence and persecution as criminals.

Judge Timothy Cole on Sept. 18, 2019, granted asylum to Valdés, but weeks later ICE appealed that decision and kept him in custody. Just last week, ICE transferred him and more than 30 other detainees from Bossier to the River Correctional Center in Ferriday, La. LaSalle Corrections, a private company, operates the facility where Valdés is now held. His case is now before the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is overseen by the Justice Department.

It’s now been four months since a judge deemed Valdés worthy of asylum here. The stories of these asylum seekers are harrowing and I urge our audience to read them and to demand reform. There are several LGBTQ and other advocacy groups that could help, including the Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and the Southern Poverty Law Center. I urge them to review this case, add their voices to the fight and assist us and his lawyer in freeing Yariel.

In his own words: “I hope that I can continue my career as a journalist from here and continue the fight for a more democratic Cuba for those 11 million Cubans who have resisted and resist this dictatorial regime that has been in power for six decades.”

GUEST COMMENTARY
Volume 21
Issue 11

NEWS ANALYSIS: The best and the worst LGBTQ stories of the past decade

by Lisa Kenn
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. It is reprinted here with permission.)

Scanning back over the past decade of stories impacting the LGBT community, the classics of Charles Dickens come to mind. Like in the infamous passage from “A Tale of Two Cities,” the past decade for LGBT people carried “the best of times” and the worst. It was an “age of wisdom” and of foolishness; “an epoch of belief” and incredulity; “a season of light” and then darkness. It was “the spring of hope,” followed by the “winter of despair.”

The question that looms over the start of the new decade is whether hope and light, wisdom and belief — in American democracy and in the hearts of American people — will prevail.

In a letter to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi December 17, 2019, President Donald Trump warned that the House impeachment proceedings against him constituted “open war” and an “attempted coup.” He likened the investigation into his request that Ukraine announce an inquiry of the then-top-polling Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 to the Salem Witch Trials. In a widely viewed on-the-spot interview following a Trump campaign rally in Pennsylvania, a supporter of the president speculated that, if the Congress removed Trump from office, Trump supporters would react with “physical violence in this country that we haven’t seen since the first Civil War.”

This was not one aberrant view. In August, an ABC News survey documented 36 incidents of violence in which the perpetrator said he was inspired to act because of Trump — seven by people who opposed Trump, 29 by people who supported him.

“The perpetrators and suspects identified in the 36 cases are mostly white men, … while the victims largely represent an array of minority groups — African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and gay men,” said ABC.

“ABC News could not find a single criminal case filed in federal or state court where an act of violence or threat was made in the name of President Barack Obama or President George W. Bush,” said the network.

THE PRESIDENTIAL BEST AND WORST: That is the contrast that the LGBT community has had to grapple with during this decade — the contrast of two presidents and the very different environments for LGBT people during their tenures.

Trump and Obama: presidential best and worst
During the administration of President Obama, the federal Defense of Marriage Act was eradicated, the long-sought right to marriage equality was realized, Congress repealed the ban on gays in the military and the Obama administration said transgender people could serve, too. LGBT people working for the federal government could file employment discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Those working for companies that contracted with the federal government also had protection under a presidential executive order. And, President Obama made clear, through actions and words, that he would stand up for the civil rights of LGBT people.

During the Trump administration, many of those gains were lost. President Trump announced a ban on transgender service members within months of taking office. He signed an executive order reversing Obama-era protections for LGBT federal employees and contractor employees. Under President Trump, the Department of Education withdrew an advice letter to schools that had suggested transgender students were protected by Title IX. The Department of Health and Human Services announced it would no longer interpret the Affordable Care Act to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and it removed questions from at least two federal surveys that would have identified data specific to LGBT people. The Department of Housing and Urban Development canceled a survey to determine the prevalence of homelessness among LGBT people and removed from its website a link that instructed emergency shelters on sensitivity to transgender people seeking help.

Beyond this large contrast between the administrations of Obama and Trump, there were these other major moments of light and darkness in the closing decade.

JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY RETIRED: Kennedy did not have the best LGBT voting record on the U.S. Supreme Court (that honor goes to Ruth Bader Ginsburg), but he did provide the crucial fifth vote for and led that majority in writing eloquently the most historic and significant decisions in support of equal rights for LGBT people. In the past decade alone, he led the decision (U.S. v. Windsor in 2013) that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that had denied recognition of marriage licenses for same-sex couples for any federal purpose. He led the majority again in writing Obergefell v. Hodges (in 2015), striking down state bans against recognizing or issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But the season of light was followed by the darkness. In 2017, he voted with a majority, in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, to say that church schools should receive state grants the same as non-church schools. Lambda Legal said the ruling amounted to state support for discrimination based on sexual orientation. Then, in 2018, he led a majority in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado that enabled a baker to discriminate against same-sex couples to evade a state law barring sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations by claiming a religious right to do so.

And then, suddenly, he retired. That not only meant the loss of Kennedy, it meant turning his seat over to an ultraconservative replacement and tipping the balance decidedly away from the trend of progressive attitudes toward LGBT people as equal citizens.

COURT STRUCK BANS ON MARRIAGE FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES: In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional and that states must recognize marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples from other states. The 5 to 4 decision, in Obergefell v. Hodges, came 43 years after the first same-sex couple brought a case before the Supreme Court seeking marriage equality. The court dismissed that appeal, Baker v. Nelson, in 1972, but efforts to achieve marriage equality continued through the four decades. There were battles in the courts and on the ballot. Finally, the legal challenged reached the Supreme Court again and Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, stated that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. … The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”

CONGRESS REPEALED “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL”: In another long-standing battle for the LGBT movement, Congress in 2010 repealed a law enacted in 1993 that banned openly gay or lesbian people from serving in the military. Democratic President Barack Obama helped drive through passage of the repeal of the ban signed into law by a previous Democratic president, Bill Clinton. When Clinton signed the ban, most Americans supported the ban (56 percent), but by the time of the repeal, only 21 percent supported a ban. In 2010, a Williams Institute study estimated there were 48,500 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals serving on active duty.

Since the repeal, the Defense Department has participated in Pride celebrations, an openly gay man served as the Secretary of the Army (under the Obama administration), and lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals can be honest about their sexual orientation without being discharged. A Defense Department survey in 2015 estimated about 80,000 service members were lesbian, gay, or bisexual. But the fight goes on, as the Trump administration attempts to defend its ban on transgender service members. As the decade closed, efforts to thwart the ban through language in a bill in Congress authorizing Defense spending failed, but legal challenges are still proceeding through the courts.

GOP CONTROL OF U.S. SENATE: In the November 2014 elections, Republicans won control of the Senate, giving the party dominance in both chambers of Congress and making the prospects for passage of any pro-LGBT legislation  — including the Equality Act (aka the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) — virtually nil. With Republicans in control of the Senate, it also gave right-wing conservatives complete control over the filling of U.S. Supreme Court seats, a control they exercised — some say overreached — to obstruct the confirmation of appointees by President Obama — including a Supreme Court nominee — and give President Trump two appointments to the Supreme Court, creating a new conservative majority on the nation’s highest court. It also enabled conservatives to mount an aggressive campaign to confirm young and conservative judges to federal appeals (47 so far) and district courts (112). The effects of their confirmations will be felt for decades to come.

DOMA NO MORE: With Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the 5 to 4 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2013 that the key provision of DOMA was unconstitutional. The law, signed by President Clinton in 1996, had barred any federal entity from recognizing for the purpose of any benefit the valid marriage license of a same-sex couple. The majority opinion in U.S. v. Windsor said DOMA Section 3 violated the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. The decision struck like the first domino to fall in a long line of walls against marriage equality. State legislators cited it during debates over marriage equality bills; state and federal courts cited it to strike down other DOMA-like laws and regulations.

At the start of a new year and a new decade, the presidency, the control of Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court stand once more as pivotal determinants in the “futurity,” as Dickens called it in “Hard Times.” “Do the wise thing and the kind thing,” he offered that troubled world, “and make the best of us and not the worst.”

NEWS ANALYSIS
Volume 21
Issue 11

PRESSING QUESTIONS: Grab Magazine of Chicago

Interview with Publisher Stacy Bridges
by Joe Siegel


Year founded: 2009

Staff size and breakdown: 8 writers and 1 editor

Key demographics: Men aged 25 to 44

Web site: www.GrabChicago.com

*****

PPQ: What feature or features of Grab have been the most popular with readers?  

Publisher Stacy Bridges: Travel features and porn star interviews.

PPQ: What is the inspiration for the name Grab?

Bridges: Grab is short for the Grabbys, which we hold every year in Chicago for Memorial Day weekend. The Grabbys highlight top talent and performances in the gay erotic film industry.

PPQ: What challenge has Grab had to overcome since its inception?

Bridges: The myth that print media is dead hurts sales, I believe.

PPQ: What one change would you like to make?

Bridges: Go all glossy, instead of just a glossy cover with newsprint pages inside.

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

Bridges: 6.

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

Bridges: I met a 22-year-old guy that told me Grab was his first introduction to the community when he was 17. He was from a small town in Illinois, and he found the magazine in a library and said he read it over and over and took it home and hid it under his mattress. His mom found it one day and told him that if he’s gay she has no problem with it and that's how he came out to her. It was really pretty cool to hear a story like that.

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

Bridges: Make sure you know your market, and listen to your readers and advertisers.

PRESSING QUESTIONS
Volume 21
Issue 11