PRESS PASS Q
A Newsletter and Trade Publication for the LGBT Media Professional
MARCH 2012 [Vol. 13, No. 12)
Celebrating 12 years of serving our community of journalists
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TOP STORY: Doing the research: Academics and others increasingly use LGBT media as a unique source for information
by Chuck Colbert
It should come as no surprise that academics in the fields of journalism and communication find LGBT media’s 40-year history to be a rich resource for scholarship.
Two examples illustrate the point: Larry Gross’s 2002 book "Up from Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America" and Rodger Streitmatter’s 1995 book “Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay and Lesbian Press in America.”
As their works demonstrate, LGBT media have been indispensable in sustaining a community and building a movement.
Gross is professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Streitmatter is a journalism professor at Washington, D.C.- based American University’s School of Communication.
And yet, it’s not just college professors teaching in those fields who find LGBT publications fundamental to their research and writing.
As Matthew Bajko, assistant editor at San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter, first noted a year ago in an April 7, 2011, article, historians, artists, authors, documentary film producers and directors all have turned to gay media outlets as sources for various projects.
“Historically, [gay] media has been essential to scholarship in the area of LGBT related topics,” Prof. Gross said during a recent telephone interview. “In the early days, a lot of the work that might have been published in more traditional academic venues could only be published in LGBT media.”
Topics of interest to researchers run the gamut, everything from the rise of the homophile movement and subsequent emergence of gay-rights politics and sexual liberation advocacy, to police harassment of gay men and the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Early on, local gay media provided information about bars and locations of events like protests and rallies. At the same time, LGBT newspapers covered police entrapment and arrests of gays – and of gay men fighting back, suicides, murders, lawsuits, and emerging health issues such as sexually transmitted diseases.
And just as publications are tapped for source material, so are gay journalists.
“Anything with numbers attached to it attracts researchers and academics,” said Lisa Keen of Keen News Service, which provides LGBT-related content to gay media nationwide.
“I think the most calls I get are from people – not just academics – scrutinizing the data showing that about one-in- four or one-in-three gays votes Republican,” Keen said. “When I've done stories about the ‘best state legally for gays,’ I've gotten a few inquiries seeking to know the specifics of my criteria and how I weighted each.
“The only other thing I recall getting a lot of researcher attention on was way back in the 1980s when I did a series of interviews from diagnosis to death with one of Washington, D.C.'s first people with AIDS. A number of academic publications reprinted it, including a journal for nurses,” added Keen, who is a former Washington Blade editor.
At New York City-based Gay City News, associate editor Duncan Osborne said he has been a source “at most once or twice, if memory serves, for professors or Ph.D. candidates doing reports.” One topic was “public sex stuff,” he said.
Meanwhile, “Gay City News was used extensively in an Amnesty International report and a 2008 UNHCR report,” Osborne said. “Our stuff occasionally pops up in HIV/AIDS reports.”
Tracy Baim, executive editor and publisher of Chicago’s Windy City Times, and Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, say they routinely field inquiries from researchers.
“I get a lot of requests for news clips and photos,” said Naff. “In certain cases and for some stories we’re the only place, or one of the only places where information exists on a given topic," he said.
In Chicago, Baim said that she, too, “receives calls and e- mails from traditional academics, graduate students and post-graduate folks all the time, asking for specific articles on a specific date or generally on themes.”
Writing their dissertations, students “might need a photo from a certain era,” said Baim. “Sometimes I am interviewed for my individual take on things that I have covered over the years. But what is even more exciting is over the last five to 10 years, I have also had calls from high school and even grammar school students doing projects related to the gay community and AIDS. One high school student interviewed me at length a few years ago for a Chicago gay history project on how the city’s gay rights ordinance got passed.”
Overall, gay media is a treasure trove of information, fleshing out specifics of the LGBT life not found in mainstream media, including a measure of the gay community’s texture and temperament.
As editor Naff explained, “Part of our mission is to scrutinize the movement,” which sometimes entails taking leaders to task.
Providing a watchdog role, “The Blade at times has criticized gay movement leaders,” said Naff, asking questions “about sources of funding, is the money being spent appropriately, the salaries that people make, what are the strategies, and are they working.”
Likewise, consider two current hot topics of gays in the military and same-sex marriage. Here again, LGBT media detail a broader range and provide deeper coverage of community politics than found elsewhere.
While mainstream outlets often frame the same-sex marriage debate as a clash between the religious right and the liberals, “The complexities come out in LGBT media,” said Prof. Gross.
“It’s more complicated than marriage equality,” he said. “It’s a battle over who gets to decide what happens and whose strategy is going to win.”
The LGBT community’s philosophical thinking about marriage is also more nuanced. “Some are [putting forth] the old anti-assimilation argument, liberationists arguments” against the marriage for gays, said Gross. “Others think about [same-sex marriage] in class terms.”
Yes, marriage is a basic civil rights question, Gross said. Yet, “There are people arguing, ‘That’s not what we should be trying to accomplish.’”
The same goes for gays in the military, said Gross, with some saying, ‘Why are we fighting to join the military?”
Of course, history and politics are more often than not primary interests for researchers.
Take, for example, openly gay Timothy Stewart-Winter, an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J. He is writing a book about the rise of LGBT politics in Chicago with a focus on how gay people got a voice in city hall.
Local gay press “provided me a snapshot of how LGBT people were interacting in the public sphere, what they were saying to each other, what rights they were demanding, and what their worries and complaints were at different moments,” he told Press Pass Q.
Over time, the gay community “used LGBT media as a place to hash out disagreements” and “what it is we are pursuing,” said Stewart-Winter. “The LGBT press told me that we have grown exponentially not just in influence, but also in having the kinds of institutions who help people,” specifically, people just coming out.
Sure enough, empowering more gay people leveraged the LGBT community’s influence, with gay media functioning as a fulcrum.
For instance, during the 1980s the Chicago City Council voted three times on a gay-rights ordinance. The first two times it failed. Afterwards, “Windy City Times printed a list of all 50 aldermen, their wards, and how they voted,” explained Stewart-Winter.
Additionally, the newspaper published aldermen’s phone numbers and encouraged its readers “to let your voices be heard in a very direct way,” he noted.
“Gay media also reported on voter registration projects, which were the kinds of things that politicians look at when making assessments,” Stewart-Winter said.
Accordingly, gay media certainly facilitated the Chicago gay community gaining electoral clout. After all, “local politics runs on people being motivated to vote,” he said.
In the future, expect more reliance on LGBT publications for scholarly pursuits given the Internet’s capacity to expand access to gay media archives as more outlets digitize entire collections.
Stewart-Winter mentioned one valuable online resource, LGBT Life from EBSCO Publishing [www.ebscohost.com/academic/lgbt- life), which bills itself as “the definitive index to the world’s literature regarding [LGBT] issues,” boasting a database index and abstracts “from more than 200 LGBT- specific core periodicals,” among other offerings.
LGBT Life's database provides access to articles from regional and national outlets, including The Advocate, Lesbian News, the Washington Blade, Bay Area Reporter, as well as historically significant publications such as ONE, The Ladder, Mattachine Review, Christopher Street, and the Body Politic. LGBT Life covers academic disciplines as varied as psychology, religion, sociology, history, and politics.
Increasingly, researchers are using the LGBT blogosphere.
As Prof. Gross noted, news aggregators – namely Bil Browning at Bilerico, Andy Towle at Towleroad, and veteran journalist and blogger Rex Wockner – are essential for anyone interested in “paying attention” to the LGBT community. “They are enormously valuable in keeping abreast of what’s happening,” said Gross.
Nikki Usher, an assistant professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, relies primarily on the Internet. In her research, when “specifically working on a piece about the LGBT community, I turn to blogs and websites and the like for my work,” said Usher, “though I wish everyone had as great a digital platform as the Blade and Windy City Times.”
IN THE NEWS: New interactive website launches over the Rainbow Times
The Rainbow Times [TRT), an LGBT publication based in Northampton, Mass., and serving the New England region, has a new look on the Internet. Its new interactive website redesign and recent launch now empowers readers to post comments, share content, and stay connected in real time.
The redesign employs a range of social media. Through a vigorous social network presence, TRT reaches more than 25,000 readers monthly via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, YouTube, LinkedIn, FourSquare, MySpace and Issuu.
The Pony Express, TRT’s monthly e-blast, goes out to 15,000 readers the last week of every month.
The publication’s website also includes online talk radio, video, and the daily PinkSixtyNews.
“Our editor, Nicole Lashomb, and I worked very closely on developing the look, features, and content of the website,” said Gricel Martínez Ocasio, TRT’s publisher. “The design was prudently selected with social media in mind.”
In another key feature, the new design also showcases photography. “This new website is all about photos, about bringing attention to the eye and winning the visitor over with the high-quality stories that our reporters and columnists produce,” said Lashomb, editor and co-owner.
TRT’s new format also has a search feature, enabling users to enter keywords. And each of the stories that are relevant to that search will be displayed, Lashomb explained.
Each online story displays other related posts that may interest the reader. “The bottom line is the new site is all about the user experience,” she said.
To better connect readers and writers, TRT includes an “About Us” tab with an “Our Team” section that features short bios and photos of the publication's reporters and columnists.
A “Special Projects” tab highlights productions that TRT has undertaken and will undertake this year, such as the Official Boston Pride Guide & Map, among others. TRT will also produce a special map for Northampton Pride 2012.
For the second year in a row, the publication will serve as the official media sponsor for several of New England's Pride events, including Boston Pride, Connecticut Pride, and Rainbow RiverFest, the largest fundraiser for the LGBT Coalition of Western Massachusetts, which takes place in Holyoke.
Altogether, the redesign and launch took several months to complete. A final stage remains, which will enable contributors to upload their own stories. “This will ease the process and make writers have a hands-on experience as part of our website team,” said Ocasio.
Ocasio and Lashomb co-founded TRT in November 2006 with a soft online launch. The publication’s first print issue appeared on newsstands on February 1, 2007.
The two women are personal and business partners. TRT is a fully minority-owned business. Initially, TRT’s print publication was bi-weekly. But a little more than two years ago, it went to a monthly print run and distribution.
“Such a move reflected the changes and evolution of how news is delivered, which brings the Internet to the forefront, and the need for instant news became the focus of TRT,” said Ocasio.
TRT [www.therainbowtimesmass.com) publishes 20,000 copies and is distributed throughout New England.
The publication boasts the most comprehensive transgender coverage of any other LGBT newspaper in the New England. “Often times, the transgender community is not represented the way it should be in LGBT publications,” Lashomb said. “It is important that we work toward understanding the entire LGBT community and not just some members of it.”
TRT is bilingual and publishes a full-page in Spanish for its LGBT Spanish-speaking readers. Visión Latina reaches LGBT Hispanic readers online too. TRT is the most read LGBT newspaper by Hispanic LGBTs, according to independent study conducted by Community Marketing Inc., an LGBT marketing and research lab based in San Francisco, Calif.
— Chuck Colbert
Hivster.com growing in its second year
Brad Crelia wanted to know as much as possible about HIV and AIDS after he learned he was positive in March 2010. He and his friend Jesse Kendall began to scour the Internet for information on the epidemic, but they soon realized that the websites they had logged onto did not resonate with them.
Hivster.com was born.
“We didn’t really find anything that sat well with us and something that we would want to go to again,” Crelia told Press Pass Q.
With Butt Magazine as a template, Crelia and Kendall officially launched Hivster.com in October 2010. Kendall is no longer with the website, but Crelia relaunched Hivster.com last September after he relocated it to a larger host.
“One of the main things with Hivster is building community and … trying to [end] stigma related to HIV and AIDS,” said Crelia, noting the site averages around 2,700 hits a month.
Hivster.com’s latest issue features an interview with former Project Runway contestant Mondo, who is also HIV-positive. New blogger Aaron Laxton, who was diagnosed with the virus last June, discussed the criminalization of people with HIV and AIDS in his inaugural post. Other recent articles include a feature on MTV’s “Staying Alive Campaign” that educates young people about the virus and safer-sex practices and a review of Ingrid Michaelson’s fourth album “Human Again.”
Crelia, who currently divides his time between San Francisco, Seattle and Spokane, Wash., is among a group of contributors who regularly contribute to Hivster.com. Additional writers in the United Kingdom and Germany are scheduled to begin contributing to the site later this year. Crelia is also planning to relocate to New York City at the end of April.
“Every once in a while I just send everybody an e-mail and just ask them what’s going on around their area and what basically is really important,” he said, further noting he uses Facebook and other social media networks and Craigslist to recruit additional writers. “We end up getting a really good mix of people.
— Michael K. Lavers
The Fight takes on Los Angeles
While tough economic times have meant the end for some LGBT publications, some are fighting the odds and starting new media ventures. Stanford Altamirano and Mark Ariel are ready for the fight.
Editor Altamirano and Managing Editor Ariel created The Fight, based in Los Angeles, in 2011 following the death of Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old California student who committed suicide after being bullied for being gay.
The Fight, subtitled A Gay Revolution, and its accompanying website – www.thefightmag.com – differentiates itself from other LGBT publications by aiming to appeal to a wide demographic of readers.
Explains Altamirano: “We do not take sexually explicit ads, in other words, no bathhouses, escorts, etc. We want our magazine to be all-inclusive, so that if your mother or your sister comes to visit with her kids, you wouldn't feel uncomfortable leaving the magazine out on your coffee table.”
The Fight also covers issues that other L.A.-based LGBT publications do not, including prostate cancer among older gay men or the adoption process for same-sex couples.
“In our current issue we have a feature written by a straight woman who fell in love with a transman. How they met, how she felt when he told her,” Altamirano said. “We sometimes feel that the L and the B and the T are overlooked in the [LGBT] press. We focus on encompassing the entire community.”
The Fight appeals to older, upper-class readers. Altamirano said the median age of the typical reader is 42, with a household income of approximately $80,000.
“Readers for the most part appreciate the fact that the publication is more diverse than some of the others,” Altamirano said. “One reader wrote, ‘It's good to finally read a gay publication that doesn't cater only to West Hollywood party boys.'”
The Fight has inspired readers to fight against bigotry and injustice, said Altamirano. “We ran an item a few months ago on the fast food restaurant Chick Fil-A donating to anti-gay causes, which resulted in a demonstration in front of their new location in Hollywood, urging the LGBT community not to give them business,” Altamirano said.
“Additionally we ran a series of articles on fertility treatments for same sex couples interested in raising a family. One couple emailed us, letting us know that they have decided to move ahead with their family creation, after reading the series.”
— Joe Siegel
PRESSING QUESTIONS: Connextions Magazine of Cicero, N.Y.
by David Webb
Staff size and breakdown: Editor, assistant editor, art director, four writers, three photographers, two salespeople, one accounting clerk, and six members of the advisory board
Physical dimensions of publication: 10” x 7”
Average page count: 64
Key demographics: 44 percent male, 51 percent female, 9 percent trans; 79 percent LGBT, 12 percent heterosexual
Average Income: $50,000-100,000 annual
Age breakdown: 18-30, 3 percent; 31-40, 50 percent; 41-54, 41 percent, 55+, 5 percent
Median age: 34
Print run: 16,000
Press Pass Q: When did you launch your publication, and what inspired you to do it?
Editor in chief Shelly Straub: The first publication, “Breaking the Barrier Between Gay and Straight,” was released in November 2010. I created a publication to share with the world about our LGBT lives. This video addresses what inspired us: http://youtu.be/7cip-NtC9LU.
PPQ: What distinguishes your publication from other LGBT publications?
Straub: Our publication features LGBT-friendly travel in each of the United States in a straight-friendly format.
PPQ: Has your publication changed since it was first launched?
Straub: The page count has grown, and the distribution has increased to include Barnes & Noble nationwide. The design and editorial content have improved, but the mission and purpose have remained the same.
PPQ: How much support does your publication receive from the mainstream business community?
Straub: There is not as much support as we would like but we are hopeful for the future. The concept of a straight- friendly gay magazine is difficult for the general public to grasp, but it is catching quickly.
PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 [exclusively straight to totally gay], how gay is your publication?
PPQ: What’s the most surprising feedback you’ve received from a reader?
STRAUB: Knowing that our publication gave someone the inspiration to “come out” was inspiring. It was seeing that we are not so different and that we need to stop telling ourselves that we are different. If we believe it, others will also. If we believe we are normal, so will others.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Use “marriage equality,” not “gay marriage”
There is no such thing as “gay” marriage any more than there is a “gay” driver's license, a “gay” birth certificate, a “gay” death certificate [“Gay marriage” or “marriage equality”?: New polling shows semantics make a difference, but LGBT media not in agreement over best phrase,” January 2012, http://www.presspassq.com/detail.cfm? id=124#feature).
The marriage license is one handed out by the state. No church or synagogue can actually give you this license. The state must do it and, therefore, marriage is a civil license. Fighting for marriage equality is fighting for a civil right.
The right wing coined the expression “gay marriage” to convince people that we were fighting for a “special” right. We weren't. We were fighting for a right that already existed.
So why should we use the terminology of the right wing – “gay marriage” – when in fact, we are fighting for marriage equality, the correct term.
[What’s your opinion? We’d like to know. Send your letters to editor@PressPassQ.com. Letters should be kept to a maximum of 250 words and may be edited for length and clarity.)
TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES
[Editor’s note: Are there important changes going on at your publication? E-mail the information to editor@PressPassQ.com.)
ACCESSLINE, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, entered its 26th year of publication with its January 2012 issue.
AMBUSH, based in New Orleans, entered its 30th year of publication with its January 3-16, 2012, issue.
BAY WINDOWS, based in Boston, entered its 30th year of publication with its December 15-21, 2011, issue.
BOSTON SPIRIT MAGAZINE entered its eighth year of publication with its January/February 2012 issue.
CAMP, based in Kansas City, Mo., entered its ninth year of publication with its January 2012 issue.
CURVE, based in New York, entered its 22nd year of publication with its January/February 2012 issue.
FENUXE, based in Atlanta, entered its third year of publication with its January 26, 2012, issue.
GAY RAG, based in Key West, Fla., entered its seventh year of publication with its January 2012 issue.
GAY SAN DIEGO entered its third year of publication with its January 13-26, 2012, issue.
GENRE LATINO, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., entered its second year of publication with its December 2011 issue.
GRAB MAGAZINE, based in Chicago, entered its third year of publication with its January 3, 2012, issue.
TODD A. HEYWOOD, a contributor and senior reporter for Livonia, Mich.-based BETWEEN THE LINES, was named to POZ MAGAZINE’S POZ 100 list for 2011.
HOT SPOTS, based in Oakland Park, Fla., entered its 27th year of publication with is January 5, 2012, issue.
MICHAEL K. LAVERS, a contributor to PRESS PASS Q, debuted the first installment of his new syndicated column INSIDE THE BELTWAY in the BAY AREA REPORTER on February 24, 2012.
PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS entered its 36th year of publication with its January 6-12, 2012, issue.
POSITIVELY AWARE, based in Chicago, published its 16th annual HIV DRUG GUIDE on February 27, 2012.
THE RAINBOW TIMES, based in Northampton, Mass., entered its fifth year of publication with its January 2012 issue.
VITAL VOICE, based in St. Louis, entered its 13th year of publication with its January 2012 issue.
THE WASHINGTON BLADE, based in Washington, D.C., entered its 43rd year of publication with its January 6, 2012, issue.
WATERMARK, based in Orlando, Fla., unveiled its new design and format as it entered its 19th year of publication on January 5, 2012.
THE BULLETIN BOARD
RE:ACT, the blog of the NATIONAL LESBIAN AND GAY JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION has launched a weekly feature hat will showcase the front pages of LGBT newspapers. Any paper is invited to be included in this new offering. To have your paper's front page be a part of this, email a PDF copy to Bach Polakowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ON THE WEB At the Press Pass Q web site – www.PressPassQ.com – you'll find back issues and subscription information.
Q SYNDICATE [www.QSyndicate.com) The gateway to exclusive celebrity interviews for regional LGBT press, Q Syndicate has interviewed such stars as Lady Gaga, Madonna, Cher, Meryl Streep, Mary J. Blige and Beyonce. Q features have earned mainstream attention for being provocative, revealing and controversial. But there's more: over 12 columns and comics geared specifically toward LGBT media, including A Couple of Guys, Bitter Girl, Abby Dee's Thinking Out Loud, Out of Town, Hear Me Out, Editorial Cartoons and Deep Inside Hollywood. For info, or a FREE subscription to Q Syndicate content, visit www.QSyndicate.com.
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Publisher: Todd Evans, todd@PressPassQ.com
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE
CHUCK COLBERT is a freelance journalist based in Cambridge, Mass. He is a longtime contributor to the National Catholic Reporter and covered the crisis of clerical sex-abuse in the Boston archdiocese. Previously a senior reporter and columnist for the former In Newsweekly, he is a contributor to Keen News Service, Boston Spirit Magazine and Northampton, Mass.-based The Rainbow Times. Also, he has written for major mainstream daily newspapers and magazines, including the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Dallas Morning News, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
FRED KUHR is an editor, reporter, performer and personal trainer based in Toronto. He has written for the Advocate, AdWeek, Toronto-based Xtra, and Boston Spirit Magazine. He has also served as editor of now-defunct publications In Newsweekly [based in Boston) and Out in the Mountains [based in Vermont). He has served as a news analyst on the Fox News Channel and CBC Radio, as well as other media outlets. Fred, a self-described social media whore, has been rated one of the top Twitterers of "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance."
MICHAEL K. LAVERS is the National News Editor for EDGE Publications. His work has appeared in the Fire Island News, the Guide, the Village Voice and other LGBT and mainstream publications around the world. He has also provided commentaries on LGBT issues to the BBC, “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC in New York, “La Razón” in Spain and other media outlets. He also blogs at Boy in Bushwick, which can be found at www.bushwickboy.blogspot.com.
JOE SIEGEL is a freelance journalist based in Rhode Island. He has written for several New England-based LGBT publications, including In Newsweekly, EDGE Providence, Options and The Rainbow Times. In addition, he has been a reporter for the Attleboro, Mass.-based Sun Chronicle newspaper for the past 8 years. He can he reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAVID WEBB worked for both mainstream and alternative media during his 25-year career, including LGBT newspaper Dallas Voice for seven years as a staff writer and news editor. He now lives on Cedar Creek Lake southeast of Dallas. In addition to freelancing, he authors the blog therarereporter.blogspot.com.
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