Opinion: The Importance of the “Gay” Media

gaymedia

During the economic downturn a few years ago, more than one media expert declared the “gay” press dead. They pointed to the number of print media institutions closing up for various reasons, many because the advertisers either weren’t paying their bills or the money that was being spent previously trying to reach the LGBT community was being spent elsewhere. Sadly, many media outlets like Idaho’s own historic “Diversity” were financially forced into silence.

Some have made the argument that, because there’s so many LGBT friendly news outlets and organizations in existence, our community no longer needs forums solely dedicated to and produced by the the community. Their reasoning usually goes something along the lines of pointing out that television station X or radio station Y reaches a more mainstream audience than a LGBT focused website or newspaper could ever hope to reach.”

The main problem with that line of thinking is that, in most cases, those media outlets are controlled by a corporation. The end goal usually isn’t the betterment of a community or to really even inform, instead, it’s more likely that your favorite news show or newspaper is simply seen as another business venture by those who control the purse strings. As a media consumer you become a demographic to be hooked in and sold to. Mainstream media outlets filter their stories to fit their demographic needs, not the needs of most real people.

It’s easy to “like” a story or to hit the “share” button on an article, but in the end you’re simply adding to a media outlet’s demographical bottom line, whether you support that outlet’s overall message or not.

There are often certain aspects of LGBT media that a mainstream commercial entity can’t or won’t offer to a local community. Tracy Baim, who co-founded the famed Chicago LGBT newspaper,Windy City Times, writes in a just published look at the “gay” press,”The role of gay media continues … because there are … many cases where the mainstream media are simply parachuting into a story and therefore providing an incomplete and thus inaccurate picture for their readers.”

As someone who has been involved in three different online LGBT news ventures here in Idaho over the years, as well as being an avid fan of “Diversity”, I can tell you first hand that when a LGBT issue does draw mainstream media attention it’s often either political or its sensationalistic.

When it’s political, most reporters treat the story as if civil rights were a football game, taking the infamous “he said, she said” approach,” playing the so-called “fair and balanced” game made famous by Fox News and others, rather than a fully unbiased report on a meeting, issue or bill.

When its sensationalistic, the mainstream media often lacks the resources, knowledge or expertise to give the story context and perspective.

That is, of course, if they cover it all.

When is the last time, for example, that the mainstream media covered a LGBT fundraiser, a candlelight vigil or a themed night at the Balcony? It happens, but not very often.

The benefits of the “gay” media are numerous, especially in a state as large and as sparsely populated as Idaho. What the stories lack in big media showmanship, they make up for in adding context, prospective and quite often make up the only coverage, outside of a Facebook invite, the event or issue will receive.

It’s also very often a catalyst for the mainstream media. During the recent incident involving a beating in Pocatello, for example, it was an Idaho Agenda reader that finally got the local newspaper to do a story on the matter. The newspaper ended up not only running a great article on the subject, but a subsequent well-written editorial on the issue, as well.

When I started the Agenda, it was for the sole purpose of providing an outlet for news and events that impact Idaho’s. The idea was to create a platform for the many voices, groups and events in our community. Like the other ventures I’ve been involved in, it’s also quite often a lonely one. Despite extending numerous invitations and running monthly announcements, virtually begging for other voices to be involved, it largely remains a sole venture.

Sometimes, when I sit back and watch a story evolve into something that makes a tangible impact on our community, I love the “beast” I have created. Other times, when my friends are angry because I don’t have time to go to coffee, or I can’t seem to find a source to comment, or because the Agenda wasn’t included in a press release and I’m having to track down details, it’s one of the most frustrating things in the world.

Still, I believe the Agenda and its readers are making a difference. Whether I publish for one reader or for a million, the end goal is the same; to encourage involvement in our community, to provide a snapshot of our movement and where we are headed and to inform those who wish to be informed. To that end, I believe the “gay” media is just as important today as it ever was, in print, online or over the air, I believe our stories must be told, and if recent history is any indication, we just may be on the cutting edge of re-writing the definition of what it means to be a part of Idaho’s LGBT community.

(Ed Note: If you would like to contribute an article, opinion-piece, or have a news tip or if you would just like to get the word out about your group or event, please email it to idahoagenda@gmail.com. You can also help spread the word by “liking” and sharing the Idaho Agenda Facebook page or find us on Twitter. Your participation is always welcome!-J.T.)

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Get It Seen on the Idaho Agenda!

If you, your business or your organization has an upcoming event and would like Idaho’s LGBTQIA community to know about it email it to idahoagenda@gmail.com and we’ll help you spread the word!

We are also always looking for guest contributors, news tips and interviews of folks who are making an impact on our community. The topic could be about anything from an upcoming  fundraiser you to your take on the presidential campaigns or anything in between.

We can’t pay you in anything but good karma points, but if you have something you’d like to write about just make it between 100-500 words and email it to us at the above website.

You can also help by spreading the word! Like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter at @Idahoagenda!

“From Jesus to Rumi: A Queer Perspective” in Pocatello

 

I’m honored to have been asked to give a talk at the Pocatello Universal Unitarian Fellowship this weekend. I’ll be sharing a little bit about my “coming out” experience, my spiritual journey and why I believe each one of us has a duty to speak up and speak out against injustice and inequality.

If you’re anywhere near Pocatello this Sunday, February 19th at 4:00 pm feel free to attend and be sure to say hi.  There will be a potluck following the service.

The Pocatello fellowship recently received a “Welcoming Congregation” designation with the UUA.

According to the PUUF website,”Evidence points to churches as the most anti-homosexual institutions in America, and much of the justification used to promote anti-homosexual feelings, legislation, and violence is couched in “religious” language. It is difficult for Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered (BGLT) people to feel safe bringing their whole selves into churches. Because the first principle of Unitarian Universalism recognizes “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” the Pocatello UU Fellowship (PUUF) welcomes all, and in fact, we state this at the beginning of each service. However, official recognition as a Welcoming Congregation(WC)allows us to open our fellowship as a safe space for BGLT persons, to take positions on oppression in our larger communities, and to accomplish outreach.”

If you can’t make it this Sunday, the church has also scheduled a “Living the Welcoming Congregation Workshop for Sat. March 17th, 2012 1-4.”

“Entitled Transgender, Gender, and Identity, this informative workshop will be presented by Emilie Jackson-Edney from Boise. The public is invited. No reservations needed,” explains a church announcement.

The Pocatello Universal Unitarian church is located at 309 N. Garfield, Pocatello.

The Idaho Agenda Turns 6 Months Old!

To be honest, when I first started the Idaho Agenda, never in my craziest expectations would I have expected it to reach the heights that it has in just six short months.

Adding up the averages, since the blog started, we reach about 5000 people a month; most of our readers coming from our national followers on Twitter, l, our friends and acquaintances on Facebook, and the five or so of you following on Google+.

But more than numbers, that I hope it is fulfilling its mission which is to stir you into action, for that is really the Idaho Agenda’s intent.

It is and was for me.

Last summer, after seeing Alan”Equality” Bounville’s one man play,“When People Lead,” at an impromptu backyard theater, I asked myself “what holes do we have in Idaho in the road to equality and what gifts, talents, or resources can I bring to the table to help fill one or more of them?”

The one thing I kept coming back to, given my current professional and personal commitments, was my ability to write, market, and share information.

My vision for the Idaho Agenda was and is to share news and events that affects the lives of Idaho’s LGBTQIA community, to provide space for those involved in the equality movement to let their voices be heard and ultimately to capture the movement of a people as we march our way to equality.

There have been a lot of sleepless nights, more grammatical errors made then I care to think about and one or two Ron Paul supporters who I’ve alienated by not carrying their “Vote Ron Paul for Equality” column, but hopefully the Idaho Agenda is serving its purpose.

Moving forward, I’m hoping that more of you will contribute your stories, your news and your projects. It doesn’t take much, just 100-1000 or so words, an email to idahoagenda@gmail.com and its up.

There are also a couple of partnerships with some exciting projects in the works, so watch for them as well.

Finally, let me simply say thank you for allowing me to clutter up your Facebook page, your twitter account and your head with stories that I think you might find useful, or at the very least, pertinent to our lives.

Send your email to idahoagenda@gmail.com. “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter at @Idahoagenda, and find us on google+

P.S. Don’t hesitate to shoot an email if you find something that’s incorrect or grammatically wrong. Sometimes “then and than” look all too similar at 2:00 in the morning.

College of Western Idaho Club Promotes Atmosphere of Love

Seated in one of the most conservative counties in Idaho, the members of CWI’s Queers & Allies club are working to help create a better place to live, work and play for everyone, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Formed last fall, the LGBTQIA group at Idaho’s newest community college in Nampa has its work cut out for it.

According to an article in the Idaho Press Tribune, the group’s purpose is to:

“-Provide an atmosphere of love, acceptance and support for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

-Educate ourselves and others about issues surrounding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

-Maintain a positive image of the queer community within the college and city.”

Besides holding regular meetings, members participate in typical club activities as well as help to support various happenings within the larger community.

Currently the group has about 20 active members.

CWI Queers & Allies president Victoria Justin tells the Press-Tribune she formed the organization because she,”wanted to belong to a group similar to Boise State University’s BGLAD (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians and Allies for Diversity).”

The group is hoping to gain official CWI student club status sometime this semester.

You can learn more about the organization by going to its Facebook page HERE. 

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