Wednesday, February 10, 2016

An Open Letter to GLAAD Regarding the 2016 Media Awards

When GLAAD launched its "Outstanding Blog" category five years ago, it was a cultural marker that grassroots activists whose tool was their digital soapbox and journalism could be recognized for the vital role they played in moving the civil rights ball forward. Most bloggers truly were/are independent journalists -- working for little or no revenue or sponsorship, operating in the belief that grassroots knowledge is power, and that mainstream and LGBT media were missing local stories and not connecting the dots to see the disconnected between metro and political LGBTs and life out in flyover country.

It was good to be nominated -- the Blend was one year, not a win but I felt honored nonetheless. I saw good work by my peers recognized. It's a field with a lot of work and little reward except making this world a little bit more informed by voices that are not normally part of the media as we know it. The grind to produce content day in and day out, particularly if you have another job to support your journalism, can take its toll. It's why I had to shutter PHB in 2013 after nearly a decade of intense production of commentary and first person journalism.

This year the category is scrapped, or if you listen to GLAAD's statement -- consolidated. Blogs were now "elevated" to compete with sponsored, large media organizations and publications with actual budgets and payrolls. The end result? No independent citizen journalists are among the nominees. Any thinking. politically and socially aware person would figure this would be the end result. This error in judgment needs to be corrected. I signed on to the open letter below to register my dissatisfaction with GLAAD's decision.

An Open Letter to GLAAD Regarding the 2016 Media Awards

We, the undersigned, respectfully but strongly disagree with your decision to remove the category of ‘Outstanding Blog’ from the GLAAD Awards and with your rationalization behind this decision.

LGBT blogs and independent media play a crucial role in relaying information, providing new and diverse voices, and bringing attention to LGBT issues that have been overlooked and omitted by the mainstream media. Bloggers are the last truly independent voices of lived LGBT experience, and those who undertake this task typically do so without pay or recognition. They don’t grace the cover of magazines. They don’t get book deals. They don’t win Oscars. What they accomplish through their sacrifice of time and energy is the proper dissemination of information which serves to make our community stronger and better educated.

The ‘Outstanding Blog’ award bestowed by GLAAD was one of the few ways LGBT bloggers has been given their due. The idea that these voices will now have to compete with larger and more powerful news entities such as The New York Times, MSNBC and Buzzfeed is unfair and, frankly, humiliating. The elimination of the ‘Outstanding Blog’ category implies that unless one is a celebrity or affiliated with a publication with a high profile and finances to match, you are held without regard in the LGBT media landscape, or at least as GLAAD sees it.

It is sadly ironic that GLAAD, an organization which prides itself on lifting up positive LGBT portrayals, has rendered grassroots LGBT voices invisible and unworthy of recognition. While an initial statement from GLAAD explained that bloggers are still welcome to compete with national outlets in other journalism categories, a simple fact speaks for itself: among the 2016 award nominees, there is not a single blog (or community-based LGBT outlet, for that matter) to be found anywhere on the list. The crucial voice of first-person LGBT voices has simply disappeared from the GLAAD Awards. This is a troubling message to send to the general public, to up-and-coming LGBT writers, and to the LGBT community itself.

In the spirit of a community in which every voice is an asset in our march to full equality, we ask that the ‘Outstanding Blog’ category be fully reinstated immediately. Please conduct a nomination process at once so that this critical error might be rectified before your 2016 awards dinner. Also, announcing the winner of this category from the stage, unlike in year’s past, would also be a nice touch.


Diane Anderson-Minshall
CEO of Retrograde Communications & Editor in Chief of Plus Magazine

Bil Browning
Founder of The Bilerico Project
2011, 2012 GLAAD Award Nominee

JD Davids
Managing Editor,

Zack Ford
LGBT Editor,

Michael Hamar
Michael in Norfolk - Coming Out in Mid-Life

Rebecca Juro
Columnist, South Florida Gay News

Mark S. King
2015 GLAAD Award Nominee

Will Kohler

Alvin McEwen
Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters
2014, 2015 GLAAD Award Nominee

Noah Michelson
HuffPost Queer Voices

Michael Rogers
Netroots Connect

Dana Rudolph
2012 GLAAD Media Award Winner

Michelangelo Signorile

Pam Spaulding
Pam’s House Blend

Joe Sudbay
Longtime Blogger

Berlin Sylvestre
Editor, OUT FRONT Magazine

Brynn Tannehill
Independent Writer

Daniel Villarreal
Editor in Chief, Unicorn Booty

Ashton P. Woods
Strength in Numbers

Sarah Toce
Founder/Publisher, The Seattle Lesbian

Dana Beyer
Weekly Columnist
Huffpost Queer Voices

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