A Newsletter and Trade Publication for the LGBT Media Professional

MARCH 2013 (Vol. 14, No. 12)
A Publication of Rivendell Media

Serving our community of journalists for 14 years

TOP STORY: Covering Catholic: LGBT media have much to say in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation
IN THE NEWS: The Associated Press strikes again, reserving certain words for heterosexual couples; NYC’s Gay City News documents Mayor Ed Koch’s closeted gay life; Publication dislocated by, but survives, Superstorm Sandy; New publication in Palm Springs launches from remains of another; South Florida Gay News fires back against pro-gay Democrat’s accusations

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TOP STORY: Covering Catholic: LGBT media have much to say in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation
by Chuck Colbert

Benedict XVI’s decision to resign from the papacy provided LGBT media ample opportunity to cover the historic development, which took the world’s one billion Catholics by surprise, including LGBTs among the faithful. San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter, Michigan’s Between the Lines, Washington Blade, and Chicago-based Windy City Times all ran news stories covering the reactions of gay Catholics as well as highlighting some of Pope Benedict’s (and then- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s) anti-gay writings and statements.

From 1981 until his election to the papacy, Ratzinger served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the church’s doctrinal enforcement arm. In both roles as prefect and pontiff, he was a decidedly conservative theologian, crafting increasingly hardline doctrine against homosexuality.

It was under Ratzinger’s leadership, for example, when the CDF issued a 1986 “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.” LGBT Catholics often refer to the document as the “Halloween Letter” because of its October issue date. The letter used the language of “objective disorder” to describe the “homosexual inclination” and “intrinsic evil” to explain “homosexual acts.”

Bay Area Reporter and Between the Lines quoted one gay Catholic man’s pointed view of such harsh terminology. “The animus of the Halloween Letter made homosexual orientation a special disposition to evil, almost a second original sin,” he said. Under Cardinal Ratzinger’s tenure, the Vatican articulated in no uncertain terms its opposition to same-sex marriage. “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar to or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and the family,” he wrote in the June 2003 CDF document, “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.” The same document also denounced gay and lesbian couples who are parents. “Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children,” Ratzinger wrote.

More recently, in his January 7, 2013 “State of the World” address, Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against global efforts to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples, naming same-sex marriage a threat to “human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”

And yet for all the pope’s anti-gay pronouncements, reactions from gay and lesbian Catholics were measured. Windy City Times’ coverage, for example, included a comment from Chicago’s pro-LGBT Catholic advocacy group Rainbow Sash Movement, which played up the pope’s resignation as a chance for reform.

A gay Catholic man from San Francisco told Bay Area Reporter and Between the Lines, “I think the pope’s resigning is one of the noblest things he has done in his papacy.”

The executive director of DignityUSA, a pro-LGBT Catholic group, told the Washington Blade, “We commend Benedict for stepping down for the benefit of the church, and I think now’s the time to look ahead. We would obviously be looking for a pope who is committed to ending the dehumanizing attacks on LGBT people and our families that have been the hallmarks of the last 25-plus years. We would call for our new pope to enter into a real dialogue with our community.” Equally Blessed, a LGBT-friendly Catholic coalition group, also voiced hope for a better future with a “listening pontiff.”

“We pray for a pope who is willing to listen to and learn from all of God’s people. We pray for a pope who will realize that in promoting discrimination against LGBT people, the church inflicts pain on marginalized people, alienates the faithful and lends moral credibility to reactionary political movements across the globe,” gay media reported.

But not all gay Catholics agree Benedict XVI’s departure is good news.

As a gay Catholic activist explained to the Blade, “What it means to me is that the most hateful and mean-spirited pope in the history of the Catholic Church is so determined to continue his reign of terror beyond his life on earth. He’s going to orchestrate his succession, ensuring the next pope carries on his mission to demonize, marginalize and oppress every gay man who comes out of the closet and demands to be treated as equals among God’s children.”

Perhaps the most interesting coverage of the pope’s resignation was in the Wilton Manors-based South Florida Gay News. “My immediate reaction was to reach out to one of our columnists, an openly gay ex-priest who actually worked in the Vatican at one time,” said editor in chief Jason Parsley. “Having such a close connection to the pope's announcement made his column especially relevant and meaningful.”

Press Pass Q asked other editors why the pope’s departure warranted news stories and more generally how their publications cover matters of faith and religion.

"The Blade labeled Pope Benedict the LGBT community's public enemy No. 1 years ago, so we covered his decision to step down closely," said editor Kevin Naff. "Although some are hopeful that the Catholic Church will welcome a more progressive successor, that seems highly unlikely and, in fact, the next pope could prove even more conservative than Benedict.” The Blade's coverage of faith issues has changed dramatically in 10 years, added Naff. "It used to be our stories were highlighting anti-LGBT attacks by various religions, but now we're just as likely to cover positive news, such as the integral involvement of black churches in passage of Maryland's marriage referendum."

In the Midwest, “Chicago has a very large Catholic community, including LGBT Catholic groups and activists,” said Tracy Baim, publisher and executive editor of Windy City Times. “There is a long history with the official Catholic Church and its cardinals here, including protests against their fighting of civil laws that would protect LGBTs.”

Overall, “We cover spirituality and faith issues from a variety of angles. Sometimes it is a profile of a religious group or leader, basically a feature on their work on LGBT and AIDS issues. Sometimes it is about controversy. But for sure we don't just cover when something bad happens,” she said.

Matters of religion, faith and spirituality are “just as important as sports, theatre, books, etc., because it is part of our readers’ lives," said Baim.

In a similar vein, Bay Area Reporter’s news editor Cynthia Laird explained that covering the pope’s resignation “was warranted because of the tension in San Francisco between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church, most recently with the appointment of the new archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, and instances where the Catholic Church in the Castro has been forced to disinvite gay ministers and stop renting the social hall to gay groups.

“I also wanted a story that included comments from LGBT Catholics so that our readers could learn what they are thinking. I was surprised the reaction was so measured, even from gay Catholics here in the San Francisco area,” she said. Bay Area Reporter has covered religion for many years, said Laird, who first started at the paper in 1996. Initially, coverage was mostly focused on the local Metropolitan Community Church. At the time there were no “open and affirming” taglines used today by many denominations, and LGBT’s who were religious generally went to MCC churches, said Laird.

“Over the years, that has changed significantly, and we generally try to cover the big meetings of the various denominations, particularly when there are LGBT issues being voted on, such as the ordination of gay clergy or stands on same-sex marriage,” she said. “I think the turning point for me was when the Episcopals confirmed Gene Robinson as bishop — even though it was across the country. We had many stories and at least one editorial about that.”

Laird added, “A lot of churches in the Bay Area are led by gay pastors or are very gay-friendly; and they occasionally provide us with information for stories. The area is also home to one of the most prestigious seminary schools in the country, the progressive Pacific School of Religion; and a lot of LGBTs attend.”

Susan Horowitz, publisher and editor in chief of Between the Lines, said the state’s substantial Catholic population and the Church’s anti-gay political activity were behind her interest in a story on the pope’s resignation.

Catholics are the single largest organized religion in Michigan, numbering slightly more than 2 million people, or 20 percent, of the state’s population, according to The Official Catholic Directory (2006).

“In 2004 when Michigan faced an anti-gay marriage amendment, the Catholic Church outspent the pro-equality forces by a 2- to-1 margin and took a leadership role in seeing the ballot pass into law,” said Horowitz. “Many LGBT and allied readers have followed the Pope’s anti-gay stance and know full well the ramifications of the Church’s funding in 2004.”

Asked about the importance of LGBT media to report on issues of faith and religion, Horowitz said, “It should be a regular, core part of the coverage LGBT media does. It is where most of the debate both pro and con is taking place when our civil rights are targeted. At Between the Lines, we average at least one key story each week, sometimes more depending on the time of year. The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion has had a Faith and LGBT Equality Project with a part-time staff person for several years now. This program has been a core part of helping move the state forward, not just in southeast Michigan but across the entire state, in traditionally more conservative regions. Because of this critical focused work, hundreds of congregations are moving to official ‘welcoming congregations.’ Faith leaders are an essential part of moving our state forward — eventually partners in removing the discriminatory constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.”

For his part, Ross Murray, faith and values director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), offered an assessment of LGBT media overall in covering matters of faith and religion.

“I'm finding that LGBT media is increasingly receptive to sharing stories of religious people standing up for LGBT equality in a variety of ways,” he said, pointing to role of GLAAD's Religion, Faith and Values Program in finding and promoting stories of religious LGBT advocacy. “It is very important to bring such stories to public attention, thus challenging the notion that religious people are uniformly opposed to LGBT equality. The gay-versus-religion frame is still strong across both LGBT and mainstream media, but it is weakening thanks to the growing vocal support for the LGBT community from people of faith.”

(Editor’s Note: Reporter Chuck Colbert provided coverage of the pope’s resignation for Bay Area Reporter and Between the Lines.)

IN THE NEWS: The Associated Press strikes again, reserving certain words for heterosexual couple — and then reversing itself

Several months ago, when the Associated Press announced that its Stylebook would no longer use the word “homophobia” in political and social contexts, the move generated considerable push back in LGBT media (“Homophobia”?: Opinions vary after the Associated Press announces big changes to its usage of the ubiquitous word,” February 2013,

More recently, the AP suggested language that differentiated same-sex couples from opposite-sex couples — restricting use of the words “wife” and “husband” to heterosexuals.

The February 12 AP memo stated with respect to same-sex couples: “We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves ‘husband’ and ‘wife.’ Our view is that such terms may be used in AP content if those involved have regularly used those terms (‘Smith is survived by his husband, John Jones’) or in quotes attributed to them. Generally AP uses ‘couples’ or ‘partners’ to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”

The AP Stylebook is one of the nation’s most influential and is widely used by newspapers, including LGBT outlets. Perhaps predictably, once again, there was pushback in LGBT media.

Writing on AMERICAblog, John Aravosis wrote, “Why does it matter if gay people use the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ to define their legal marriage if AP doesn’t have the same standard for straight couples? AP doesn’t say if the couple is straight, they’ll only call them ‘husband and wife’ if ‘those involved have regularly used those terms.’ So why the different standard for legal gay marriages? Because AP doesn’t think gay marriages are legit, and certainly not equal to straight marriages.”

Dana Rudolph, who publishes Mombian, a lifestyle blog for lesbian mothers and other LGBT parents, also disagreed with the AP. And yet she said, “I think that ‘wife’ carries more negative historical connotations for some lesbians and bi women than ‘husband’ does for gay/bi men.

She added, “If I were advising AP, I'd suggest they advise making strong efforts to find out the individuals' preferred terms, whether ‘husband,’ ‘wife,’ ‘spouse,’ or even ‘partner.’ Asking about such usage should become standard practice for reporters, just like asking about the spelling of a person's name. If I really can't find this information, my own default as a journalist is to use ‘spouse,’ which seems both accurate and least likely to offend.”

Longtime LGBT activist Roberta Sklar disagreed with the “AP stance of separate but equal descriptor,” she said. “Why must we perpetually repeat the patterns of the binary divisions. I love the word ‘partner.’ It means so much to me. It truly describes my relationship of over 30 years. ‘Wife’ makes me feel like I am living in a prior century or two. I thought we were reinventing marriage, not simply repeating it.”

The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) weighed in on the matter, with president Jen Christensen penning an open letter, dated February 14, to the AP Stylebook editor.

“What is troubling is the final sentence in the memo: ‘Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages,’” she wrote. “Such guidance may be appropriate for referring to people in civil unions, for which there are no established terms and the language is still evolving, but it suggests a double standard for same-sex individuals in legally recognized marriages. One has to assume that AP would never suggest that the default term should be ‘couples’ or ‘partners’ when describing people in opposite-sex marriages. We strongly encourage you to revise the style advisory to make it clear that writers should use the same terms for married individuals, whether they are in a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage. Language choices like these have an impact. Such reporting can reinforce the idea that marriages between same-sex individuals are fundamentally different from marriages between a man and a woman.”

Now the Associated Press has apparently relented. On February 21, AP added a new entry to its online Stylebook and will be included in the spring edition of the printed book and mobile Stylebook. The entry states: “husband, wife: Regardless of sexual orientation, ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. Spouse or partner may be used if requested.”

Through a press release, the Associated Press offered an explanation. “The AP has never had a Stylebook entry on the question of the usage of ‘husband’ and ‘wife,’” said Senior Managing Editor for U.S. News Mike Oreskes. “All the previous conversation was in the absence of such a formal entry. This lays down clear and simple usage. After reviewing existing practice, we are formalizing 'husband, wife' as an entry."

NLGJA voiced praise for AP’s “quick action to set appropriate guidelines for the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife,’” emphasizing, “Language choices like these have an impact.”

— Chuck Colbert

NYC’s Gay City News documents Mayor Ed Koch’s closeted gay life

What role should LGBT media play in dealing with the issue of closeted politicians once he or she dies? Should they be outed? Is it an issue worth reporting?

These questions arose front and center recently for New York City-based Gay City News (GCN) when Ed Koch, a former New York City mayor, died on February 1. A lifelong bachelor, he was 88 years old.

A U.S. House member from Manhattan (1969-1977), Koch went on to become mayor in 1978, serving three terms until 1989. Over the years, widespread speculation persisted about Koch’s sexual orientation. For the most part, Koch dodged the question when asked if was gay, saying it was nobody’s business but his.

In all, mainstream media wrote of Koch in praiseworthy and nostalgic terms, pointing to lively moments over his many years in public office, at the same time noting his at-times brash temperament.

In mainstream coverage, Mayor Koch is lauded specifically for making available several hundred thousand units of affordable housing. He is praised more generally for rescuing New York City from the brink of bankruptcy. Mainstream accounts even note Congressman Koch’s early support of federal gay rights legislation.

And while mainstream outlets mentioned Koch’s sexual orientation, even the New York Times left the was-he-gay question an open one. “No proof was offered,” wrote Robert D. McFadden in an obituary.

“There is no way you can write an obituary about Koch without mentioning the [gay] issue,” said Paul Schindler, GCN’s editor in chief, during a telephone interview. “When he ran for mayor in 1977, signs popped up, ‘Vote for Cuomo, not the Homo.’” (Koch defeated Mario Cuomo, among other candidates, in the Democratic primary.)

And as Karen Ocamb, news editor at Los Angeles-based Frontiers magazine, noted, “As we have seen, mainstream media is still squeamish when it comes to reporting on LGBT people, let alone LGBT people who might have been beloved heroes, to straights.”

Gay media, she said, had an important role to play in “not letting silently skulking homophobia dominate the writing of history — not letting Koch get the pass the media gave Ronald Reagan on AIDS.”

For Schindler, there was indeed more to the storyline; and GCN had sources to advance the narrative.

“Three issues came together for us,” said Schindler. “The first is how Koch evolved and backed away from gay rights, not that he ever changed his tune, but how it became a far less important issue for him when he shifted from being a Manhattan congressman to being the mayor of all five boroughs.”

The other two issues, added Schindler, were “his really flat-footed response to AIDS” and “the question of the closet.” GCN ran three stories on Koch, including Andy Humm’s “Ed Koch: 12 Years as May or, a Lifetime in the Closet,” Duncan Osborne’s “Koch Administration Memos Detail Foot-Dragging on AIDS,” and Schindler’s “Koch’s Legacy.” GCN’s coverage is noteworthy, spotlighting gay media’s ability to drill down story lines in ways mainstream outlets cannot.

Veteran journalist Humm’s 4,000-plus-word story is a comprehensive approach to Koch’s legacy. It deals with his handling of the AIDS crisis, the mayor’s political evolution and his closet.

Humm’s balanced approach includes perspectives both from Koch’s detractors and defenders.

Humm quotes Larry Kramer, co-founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP. “Ding dong the wicked witch is dead,” Kramer told Humm. Kramer gives voice to AIDS activists sharply critical of and angry about the former mayor’s response to the AIDS epidemic.

Kramer and others contend that Koch’s tepid response to the AIDS crisis cannot be understood separate from his being closeted.

But Osborne, in his reporting based on Koch administration archives, holds the view that fear about creating entitlements for persons living with HIV and avoiding political fights — not Koch’s closetedness — are what played a key role in New York City’s inaction.

New York City’s response to AIDS in the early years is often contrasted with that of San Francisco, with New Yorkers holding a view that San Francisco responded much earlier and better in taking care of AIDS patients.

On the matter of Koch and the closet, Humm leaves little doubt. He cites two named sources in arriving at an unavoidable conclusion that Koch was gay. One source is David Rothenberg, a gay community leader, who knew Koch and his lover at the time, Richard Nathan, in the 1970s.

The other source is Dennis de Leon, a former executive director of the city’s leading Latino AIDS organization. Before his death in 2009, de Leon told Humm of a bedroom experience with Koch. As Humm reported, “The mayor was sitting on his bed watching TV and when de Leon sat down, Koch put the moves on him, only to be rejected.”

Humm goes on to report that when he asked Koch in 2011 about the bedroom incident, “He dismissed the story mockingly, saying, ‘He’s dead.’”

At the time, Humm also received e-mail correspondence from Koch.

“I don’t discuss whether I am heterosexual or homosexual,” the former mayor wrote. “For anyone to respond to the question legitimizes it being asked. So that in future, political organizations could not only ask candidates to state their positions on public issues — which is legitimate — but also request an interview to answer the question ‘Are you straight or gay?’ To allow that to occur would drive many public-spirited citizens from running for office.”

Even a staunch Koch defender, Charles Kaiser, bears witness to the former mayor’s sexual orientation, telling Humm, “It would have been a magnificent thing if Koch had come out of the closet at the height of the [AIDS] crisis.” Given GCN’s conviction that Ed Koch was indeed a closeted gay man, did the closet affect his political judgment, specifically with respect to AIDS?

“Everyone wants an easy answer to that question,” said Schindler. “Larry Kramer and Allen Roskoff already and vociferously link Koch’s closetedness, his self-loathing, to his willingness to shrug his shoulders and let gay men die. That’s a very harsh verdict. I just don’t know how you answer that question unless you are able to find a lot of people who were not only aware of Koch’s sexuality, but really had access to his innermost thoughts. I am not sure there are any such people.” Of one thing, Schindler is sure. “It was clear to us that he was a closet case, and with that knowledge we had no choice but to report that knowledge. I hope that we have contributed to normalizing the conversation, allowing people to have the conversation that Koch was closeted, and what the implications of that are in his decision making. I am not sure we are ever going to know the answer.”

Asked about a takeaway message for LGBT media, Schindler said, “Gay media needs to do its job and in this case do what the rest of media is reluctant to do. I sometimes think that mainstream media on questions of homosexuality act like Margaret Mead when she stumbles upon an indigenous population in the South Pacific. They stand there and look at us and don’t quite know how to talk about us or understand our identities.”

— Chuck Colbert

Publication dislocated by, but survives, Superstorm Sandy

As Superstorm Sandy wrecked havoc on the Mid-Atlantic Coast shorelines in late October of last year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for a mandatory evacuation of Zone A, an area of lower Manhattan located near coastlines or waterways.

Just a block and a half away from the Hudson River, sits the ground-floor office space of Gay City News (GCN) — at Canal Street and Greenwich — right outside the evacuation zone.

“We expected a flood, but not an inundation,” said GCN associate publisher and co-founder Troy Masters. “We anticipated there would be some water enter through our basement, but we did not anticipate the entire river would flow through our building.”

GCN’s basement was flooded with five to six feet of water nearly up to the ceiling.

All in all, "it was really quite a dramatic situation,” Masters said. “The water simply stood in place after the Hudson River withdrew to its natural boundaries. It rose to more than 14 feet in this area.”

Superstorm Sandy was indeed a game changer for Gay City News. From October 29 until December 10 — six full weeks — GCN was displaced from its offices.

“We were among four Manhattan newspapers that were no longer in Manhattan,” said editor in chief and co-founder Paul Schindler, referring to GCN and its three sister publications — The Villager, Downtown Express and East Villager News. The flood destroyed GCN’s server and back up, along with the paper archives. All work files for the past 10 years have been lost, although Masters is having hard drives inspected for potential data recovery. And many years of financial statements were destroyed.

Fortunately, Schindler had retained bound volumes containing two copies of every old issue.

Superstorm Sandy was particularly challenging for the publication’s new owner, Jennifer Goodstein.

She and Masters were texting and talking during the entire storm. Goodstein made calls to the entire New York Press Association looking for temporary space.

Masters credits Gary Pierre-Pierre, publisher of The Haitian Times, for arranging space at first inside the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Journalism at Times Square.

“We published all our local papers the first week with only a two-day delay,” said Masters.

At the same time, the four publications launched a special paper focused on the recovery. NYC Reconnects, a print newspaper, even had its own website. The publication was all about resources for people in lower Manhattan — what damage had occurred, where people could go for FEMA help and what kinds of programs were available for businesses and residents.

“Quite an undertaking,” said Masters, considering “all the activities involving our relocation.”

Meanwhile, back from a few days off on personal business, Schindler had a pressing concern — the following week’s election coverage.

“We covered the results, and things went off in that respect pretty much without a hiccup,” he said. Happily, “the results were clear and early. We knew pretty fast that we won all four of the marriage referenda.”

During GCN’s short time at CUNY, the extent of the damage suffered became clear. “There was no way to return to our offices at Canal Street until extensive repairs were done,” said Masters. “Those repairs would ultimately take more than half-million dollars and more than 30 days to complete.”

After three days at CUNY, Masters’ partner Arturo loaded equipment from the Canal Street offices and moved to the offices of Community News Group, a Brooklyn and Queens newspaper group.

Back at Canal Street since December, “We're still unraveling the collateral damage, relocating desks, inspecting our distribution locations and fine tuning our schedules and editorial calendars,” said Masters.

Throughout the flooding and its early aftermath, said Schindler, “I would say the biggest thing was not having immediate access to things you come accustomed to having. I mean, you set up archives and networks, and then I would realize I need this picture from 2009, but realize I can’t get that right now. The server is down and information is temporarily damaged. I can’t recover it right now.”

And yet, he said, “You can adapt pretty well. Most of our work is contained on laptops. As long as there are connections via phone and the Internet, you have some level of personal workspace.”

— Chuck Colbert

New publication in Palm Springs launches from remains of another

A new monthly online LGBT publication based in Palm Springs, Calif., has launched by the former general manager of another publication that ceased publication last year.

Nino Eilets, formerly of now-defunct Bottomline Magazine, has launched Standard Magazine.

Last June, the publishers of Bottomline planned a redesign of the magazine. Eilets wanted the magazine to take a few weeks off so the revamping could be done successfully. However, according to Eilets, the owners of the publication wanted to take the whole summer off for the redesign.

Eilets thought that was a bad idea and told them the magazine risked losing readers after a long break. But that was just one of many disagreements.

“A lot of things [with the owners] wasn't working,” Eilets recalled. “I told them, 'I don't agree with this whole thing and if you guys decide to come back in September, I don't want to do it.’”

Bottomline ceased its operation soon after. Eilets believed the magazine would have survived if the owners had given him the creative freedom he sought.

Eilets became increasingly frustrated at Bottomline. In fact, Eilets was hoping to take the magazine in a new direction. “It was getting stale,” Eilets noted.

Eilets was at Bottomline for more than 11 years. Before that, he was a staffer for the Desert Sun, a mainstream daily newspaper.

When Eilets decided to start Standard, he met with the former employees of Bottomline, including the magazine's art director and the writers. They agreed to work for Eilets.

Starting Standard was a “no brainer”, Eilets explained. “We hit the ground running so the learning curve was very, very minute.”

To read the current issue, go to

— Joe Siegel

South Florida Gay News fires back against pro-gay Democrat’s accusations

Staff members at gay newspapers have long taken criticism from LGBT and ally leaders about messaging, but during this past election season, one paper fired back.

An August 2012 issue of Wilton Manors-based South Florida Gay News included an op-ed from editor Jason Parsley that confronted head-on a high-profile critic of the newspaper's coverage of a local race in which a gay Republican faced off against a longstanding pro-gay Democratic in cumbent.

"He said all the facts in the story were right," Parsley said about the complaint. "He was OK with the story. He was just upset about the headline."

The critic was Florida state Rep. Perry Thurston, and the headline was “Florida Democrat Perry Thurston defends controversial anti-gay spending,” a story that revealed that the politician had made several donations to vehemently anti-gay pastor, Rev. O'Neal Dozier.

Dozier, a Rick Santorum supporter, made waves last year after Mother Jones reported he'd called homosexuality "something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit." Thurston had also made even larger donations to a pastor who had taken a leading role in the successful 2008 effort to amend Florida’s constitution to ban same-sex couples from marriage. "We came across some information that Rep. Thurston had donated money to a very, very anti-gay pastor," Parsley told Press Pass Q. "So we did a story about it, and he was upset at the headline."

Both anti-gay pastors’ churches are in Thurston’s district, making them important constituents. Though Thurston had long been an LGBT ally, and even supported extending marriage rights to same-sex couples as far back as 2008, the staff was surprised to find in Thurston’s financial filings such an anti-gay blemish. Parsley said several Democrats rushed to Thurston’s defense, complaining about the article, but that Thurston himself reacted strongest. According to Parsley’s op-ed, Thurston phoned the newspaper and implied that his opponent’s campaign was behind the headline.

"He felt that we had been influenced by his opponent," Parsley said.

Thurston's opponent was openly gay Republican Scott Herman, though since losing in a landslide, Herman has switched to the Democratic Party. In his August op-ed responding to the accusations, Parsley unequivocally denied the allegation, writing, "SFGN does not sell its headlines."

Had they not printed that news, Parsley is convinced the anti-gay donations would not have been made public, especially not by mainstream publications like the Sun Sentinel.

"It wouldn't have been a blip on their radar," said Parsley. While coverage of LGBT issues is improving in the mainstream press, LGBT publications are often credited with finding stories that mainstream newspapers miss.

"We try to be fair. We post op-eds from columnists supporting both parties," Parsley said, saying that sometimes gay newspapers get criticisms from the left for being too far to the right as much as from the right for being too left. "Every week we'd get attacked from the other side. Sometimes as a reader, you write your own narrative. If you think a newspaper is biased toward one party, every story you see that in any way supports that claim, you're going to take it, you're going to grab it, you're going to wave it up in the air and say, 'See, I told you so!'"

Parsley emphasized — as he had in his op-ed — that a newspaper’s job is not to worry about how information will be used by “the other side.” A journalists’ job is to report facts, and he stands by his staff in this case, saying they did just that.

— Phil Reese

PRESSING QUESTIONS: will return next month


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ALAN BELL, founder of the Southern California-based black LGBT monthly newsmagazine BLK in 1988, was among those inducted into the National AIDS Education and Services for Minorities Black Gay Men Hall of Fame. Bell published BLK for six years as well as its sister publications Blackfire, Black Lace and Kuumba. The induction ceremony took place in January 2013 in Los Angeles during the National African American MSM Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS and Other Health Disparities.

GAY.COM launched a new site design in January 2013. The new design allows members to easily identify and connect with other members in close proximity. Additionally, members have quick and easy access to suggested matches, new messages, and friend requests. The site also now allows members to update their status, expand their profiles, curate their photos into albums, and send photos to other members as well as create personalized lists and send photos directly to other members.

GAYELLOW PAGES, published by New York-based RENAISSANCE HOUSE, publishes its 35th annual print edition in March 2013.

HERE TV announced it is celebrating its 10th year of broadcasting in the United States. To launch its second decade, the network announced the New Frontiers Film Project, a call for newly completed film and television projects that carve out new frontiers around the LGBT experience. The selected programming will air throughout 2013 on Here TV across all its cable and web platforms.

JUST OUT, based in Portland, Ore., has shut down. The announcement was made in a message to advertisers from owners and publishers EDDIE GLENN and JONATHAN KIPP. The publication relaunched in June 2012. The February 2013 issue will be its last.

MULTIMEDIA PLATFORMS LLC, based in Wilton Manors, Fla., has announced the formation of an advisory board. BOBBY BLAIR, CEO of Multimedia Platforms as well as publisher of FLORIDA AGENDA and GUY MAGAZINE, will serve as CEO and chairman of the board.

SAN DIEGO LGBT WEEKLY published its 100th issue on October 18, 2012.

ELIJAH SARKESIAN is the new editor of chief of DAVID ATLANTA. He was previously the magazine’s lead writer. He replaces MAX CORWELL.

THE WINDY CITY TIMES, based in Chicago, has received a nomination from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), for the second year in a row. The nomination was for the Generation Halsted series, an exploration of at-risk LGBTQ youth in the city. The eight-week series was overseen by Publisher TRACY BAIM and written and photographed by three primary reporters: KATE SOSIN, ERICA DEMAREST and BILL HEALY. Art Director KIRK WILLIAMSON designed the series. The entire series is available as a free PDF download through this link:


ON THE WEB At the Press Pass Q web site – – you'll find back issues and subscription information.

Q SYNDICATE ( 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

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Publisher: Todd Evans,
Editor: Fred Kuhr,
Associate Editor: Dave Brousseau,
Contributing Writers: Chuck Colbert, Phil Reese, Joe Siegel, David Webb


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 Boston-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

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."

PHIL REESE is a reporter and manager of digital initiatives for THE WASHINGTON BLADE. Reese has previously worked with the Bilerico Project, Feast of Fun and Out & About Illinois.

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, and Options. In addition, he has been a reporter for the Attleboro, Mass.-based Sun Chronicle newspaper for 10 years. He can he reached at

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


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