John M. Becker

The 2014 LGBT Media Convening: A Resounding Success

Filed By John M. Becker | March 07, 2014 6:15 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: DC convening, Haas Jr Fund, LGBT Media Journalists Convening, LGBTmedia14, NLGJA

As regular readers know, last weekend the annual LGBT Media Journalists Convening was held here in D.C. Sponsored by the Haas, Jr. Fund and hosted by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the convening brought together a representative group of top LGBT bloggers and journalists from across the country to discuss issues related to queer media.

After hearing -- and becoming quite curious about -- all the buzz around this event for the past several years, this year I was invited to attend and represent The Bilerico Project. And let me tell you, it lived up to the hype.

shane-larson-lee.jpgShane Larson (right) of the Communications Workers of America delivered a rousing and impassioned speech about the intersection of LGBT rights and workers' rights, as well as the importance of standing together against our common oppressors. Then we heard from MSNBC journalist, chief foreign affairs correspondent, and anchor Andrea Mitchell about the challenges faced by women in the media and her take on the Sochi Olympics and the global state of LGBT human rights. She even confirmed that Russian troops had landed on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

And that was just the first night!

On Saturday, our day started with a special tour of the White House organized by Ellie Schafer, the highest-ranking lesbian at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We returned to the conference hotel for a packed schedule of panels and discussions.

In the first panel, "Mythbusters: Understanding & Deconstructing the Attack Lines of the Anti-LGBT Industry," Nathaniel Frank, Joel Silberman, and Masen Davis led a conversation about strategies for effectively pushing back against equality opponents' distortions, and how to do so with "stillness, smiling, and simplicity," as Silberman said. A fair portion of the discussion revolved around effectively debunking junk right-wing "research" attacking same-sex parenting, particularly Mark Regnerus's roundly-discredited but widely-cited New Family Structures Study.

Silberman and Matt Berger held valuable media trainings for attendees throughout the day.

"What We Don't Talk About: Radical Methods For Greater Diversity In Queer Journalism" focused heavily on the need to better include and more fully cover the bi and trans communities, people of color, and HIV issues. DREAMer Lorella Praeli addressed the room to discuss immigration reform, and in the afternoon we got our geek on in a conversation called "Geek Tech: The Future Of LGBT Media."

haas-convening-lee.jpgThe schedule wrapped up with the intriguingly-titled "Airing Our Dirty Laundry: Best Practices in Airing Touchy Subjects," and it was a frank, honest, and immensely helpful discussion. Panelists Darlene Nipper, Mara Keisling, and Steven Thrasher and moderator Sarah Blazucki guided us through some tough topics that the LGBT media tends to avoid.

These included intra-community homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, racism and classism, the shameful lack of funding for LGBT journalism, dealing with celebrities who make anti-LGBT screw-ups, and the need to give our fellow community members and allies the benefit of the doubt and bring them forward rather than berating them when they're not as well-informed on our issues as we'd like them to be.

All in all, the weekend was informative, energizing, and inspiring. It was wonderful to be able to get together with friends and colleagues from across the country -- some of whom I'd only known virtually prior to the convening -- and bat ideas around, share stories and perspectives, and strategize about the best ways for the LGBT media to help move the LGBT movement forward.

Huge kudos and many thanks to Bilerico founder Bil Browning, Matt Foreman of the Haas Jr. Fund, the NLGJA, and the host committee for putting the 2014 LGBT Media Journalists Convening together and bringing so many queer media mavens under one roof. The issues and strategies we discussed, the conversations we had, and the connections we made will help us all more effectively cover LGBT issues and advance equality nationwide in 2014 and beyond.

Our movement is the richer for it.

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