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LGBT Media Journalists Converging

MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell gave the keynote address at the LGBT Media Journalists Converging conference on Friday at the AFL CIO headquarters. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key) LGBT media 

01
Mar
2014

Is Shepard Smith finally coming out?

Shepard Smith, Fox News, gay news, Washington Blade

Shepard Smith (Photo public domain)

Closeted Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is listed as a “special guest” scheduled to attend an annual fundraiser for the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association next week.

I outed Smith in 2005 after he hit on me in a New York piano bar. He has never publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation.

Smith’s attendance could be good news: Maybe he’s finally going to come out. Not sure why NLGJA would have him there if that weren’t the case. There are plenty of out journalists these days to celebrate that we don’t need closet cases as our “special guests.”

11
Mar
2014

Queery: Curtis Tate

Curtis Tate, National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association, gay news, Washington Blade

NLGJA D.C. Chapter President Curtis Tate (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As far as journalists go, reporter Curtis Tate has fairly broad reach with his job as a transportation reporter for the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

Not only do his stories regularly appear in the chain’s 30 papers, they’re syndicated through the Tribune News Service and get picked up in hundreds of other papers.

The 34-year-old Louisville, Ky., native came to Washington a bit more than five years ago to join the company, where he started as a night editor. That followed stints at the Indianapolis Star and Dow Jones in New Jersey.

Tate has been active with the D.C. Chapter of the National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association for about seven years and is its current president. The group’s monthly happy hour is Monday at 6 p.m. at MOVA (2204 14th St., N.W.). Find the group on Facebook at NLGJA-DC.

“We have a lot of members in the LGBT media and a lot who work for other national media and in online media as well,” Tate says. “As fragmented as journalism has become in some ways, I think for us as LGBT journalists, having this group is extremely valuable.”

Tate is single and lives on Capitol Hill. He enjoys biking, travel, photography, music, food and wine in his free time.

 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

Since 18 and myself.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin, Billie Jean King

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

Busboys & Poets

 

Describe your dream wedding.

On the beach or in the mountains, with just close family and friends.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Transportation, which is what I cover for McClatchy.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

The present, before it becomes history.

 

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Dressing up for Halloween as a Rubik’s Cube.

 

On what do you insist?

Washing hands.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Photos from a 36-mile bike ride last weekend (sore legs not pictured).

 

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Trains of Thought: How I Got Sidetracked and Got There Anyway”

 

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

It’s all in my head.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Keep up the good work.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Grandma’s Vietnamese cooking.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That there is a “man” and a “woman” in every relationship.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Giving gifts, sending notes, making calls to your loved ones on holidays, instead of spontaneously or when they need it.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I like giving them more than receiving them.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Sometimes it takes a few tries.

 

Why Washington?

We go back a long way.

02
Oct
2013

Queery: Sarah Blazucki

Sarah Blazucki, gay news, Washington Blade, Queery

Sarah Blazucki (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Mid-year last year, Sarah Blazucki was ready for a professional change.

The 37-year-old Baltimore native had a good six-and-a-half year run as editor at Philadelphia Gay News and was looking for fresh vistas to tackle. In October, she moved to Washington to work as a writer and editor with The Peace Corps.

“I felt like I’d done all I could do with the paper and it was time to let someone else take over,” she says. “Someone with new, fresh ideas and for me to do something else. I was sort of looking to take my career to the next level.”

Though she says things are “very good” in her new position, it’s a huge change from what she calls “the rhythm” of the weekly newspaper rigors. She also realizes it will take time to get integrated into D.C. LGBT life.

“Just being at the PGN, I very much had my finger on the pulse of the LGBT community and down here I just don’t,” she says. “Granted I’ve only lived here three months, but it’s just going to take some time to find the community again. And not just the bars. I know where they are, but I mean really the heart of the community. The non-profits, the larger piece that really makes up the heart of the community.”

Blazucki is also active in the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the founder of website lgbtrights.me which allows web surfers to find out what laws apply in their part of the country. She also writes resumes on the side.

She has identified as queer since she was 21 and was in an 11-year relationship with a man whom she eventually married. But she says she knew all along she “was not straight.”

Blazucki’s dating but not in a serious relationship. She lives in Petworth and enjoys running, yoga, reading and “being a news junkie” in her free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

Since I was 21. Sometimes I get flack from gays and lesbians because I’m not a gold-star lesbian and that can be hard.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Can I have more than one? As a journalist, I really admire Rachel Maddow. She’s super-smart and she’s got moxie. I also have a couple of personal heroes, who I can also count as friends: Gloria Casarez, who is the director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, and Carrie Jacobs, the executive director of The Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

Tracks. I had some good times there.

Describe your dream wedding.

I was married before and that was probably as close as I would get. (See my answer about overrated social customs.) It was a 1920s carnivale theme, very fun. Less of a wedding, and more of a big party.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Gender equality/women’s rights.

What historical outcome would you change?

The 2007 Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. In the case, the court ruled 5-4 against Lilly Ledbetter, who had been getting paid less than her male counterparts at Goodyear for years. The court said her claim of long-term discriminatory pay decisions was filed after the statute of limitations, 180 days, had expired.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Pop culture really isn’t my forte, but Kurt Cobain’s suicide was pretty significant.

On what do you insist?

It’s OK to be gay. Also, good grammar and correct language use. It’s my job.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“So excited to have found what is likely the closest grocery store to my house, and it’s an organic grocer. That only took 3 mos. Sheesh!”

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Determined: How I got over a mostly shitty childhood and found my way in the world”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

For myself, nothing. I like being queer. For others, encourage self-acceptance.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

The universe.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Keep up the good fight. Don’t let the LGBT-rights movement be sidelined by petty differences. Don’t sacrifice the minorities amongst us for the good of the majority.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My family, my close friends, LGBT equality.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That lesbians “process” too much.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Bound”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Weddings

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I’m not particularly motivated by either, but a Pulitzer would be nice.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That my life and work mattered, and that I could have a positive impact with both.

Why Washington?

Work. And it helps that my family is close.

09
Jan
2013

NLGJA’s Michael Triplett dies at 48

Michael Triplett, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, gay news, Washington Blade, obituary

The late NLGJA President Michael Triplett (Photo courtesy of NLGJA)

The president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association died Thursday at 48 after a two-year battle with oral cancer.

Missouri native and Washington, D.C.-based journalist Michael Triplett was elected president in August, and led the organization through its first inclusion in the Unity: Journalists for Diversity conference, a quadrennial gathering of journalists along with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association. According to NLGJA, Triplett was the group’s first representative to the Unity board, working to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity into the Unity group’s mission.

Once a lawyer, in 2000, Triplett began reporting on tax and labor policy for legal news publisher Bureau of National Affairs, now known as Bloomberg-BNA, where Triplett served as assistant managing editor. Triplett lived in Arlington, Va., where the organization is headquartered, with his partner, Jack Squier. According to Triplett’s Facebook page, until 2011, he’d also served as an adjunct instructor at the American University Washington College of Law, where Triplett received his Juris Doctorate in 1998.

Triplett became involved in the D.C. chapter of NLGJA in 2006, according to communications consultant Matthew Berger, who served with Triplett on the D.C. chapter board, and then later on the national board.

“Michael was incredibly smart and passionate and had a quiet determination that really got things done,” Berger told the Blade. “That is something that is often needed in a non-profit group of volunteers. Instead of people who say ‘this needs to be done,’ you need people like Michael who will roll up their sleeves and do it. that’s why he rose so fast in the organization: he was willing to take on so many different tasks. Really understood the role of the organization.”

“While Michael only served as president for a few short months, he has been a member of our leadership team for several years, first as a Washington, D.C. chapter board member and president and then as a national board member and vice president for print,” read a statement released by NLGJA on Thursday. “His quiet demeanor masked a steely resolve and an uncanny ability to push our organization forward. Michael quickly became someone who could be relied on both to provide sage advice as well as the time and energy to help us accomplish our goals.

Triplett also served as principle contributor to the organization’s blog RE:ACT, which addresses issues of fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues in the media, and guided the blog’s contributors.

“That’s why he was such a great person, he was able to really connect with the organization’s mission and disseminate it to such a large group through the [react] blog. He was a joy to be around, he was fun, and he had a great spirit,” Berger said.

According to friends of Triplett, he died at his family’s home in Alabama. Triplett’s colleagues at NLGJA expect to announce plans soon to honor the long-time member in Washington, D.C.

“Even the last few years, when things were difficult he had an incredible optimism and was a sweet sweet person,” Berger told the Blade.

 

18
Jan
2013

NLGJA names interim president

Jen Christensen, CNN, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, gay news, Washington Blade

Jen Christensen (Photo courtesy of NLGJA)

ATLANTA — After the death of National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association president Michael Triplett, last week, the board of directors has elevated CNN.com writer and producer Jen Christensen to the position of interim president through the remainder of Triplett’s term, ending in 2014.

Atlanta-based Christensen has served three terms on the Board, and since 2009 has served as vice president for broadcast, according to an NLGJA release.

“While I take on this role under extremely sad circumstances, I hope to carry on Michael’s important legacy of thoughtful leadership,” Christensen said in a statement. “I look forward to echoing his passion to seek fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues in the media and to continue to help create more inclusive newsrooms for LGBT journalists.”

24
Jan
2013

A journalist’s convictions and a lawyer’s fire

Michael Triplett, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, gay news, Washington Blade, obituary

The late NLGJA President Michael Triplett (Photo courtesy of NLGJA)

By MATTHEW E. BERGER

There are people who are constants in your life, arriving at an undefined moment and in the background for the large and small milestones. And then there are those who are with you for just a short time, but leave an impression that is everlasting.

Michael Triplett, president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, died last month, losing his battle with oral cancer. He was too young—49—and had too much left to give. Michael had a journalist’s convictions and a lawyer’s fire. He was a strong advocate for the communities he cared for. But what he taught me was that quiet, persistent passion can often be more effective than being the loudest voice in the room.

I first met Michael six years ago when, as president of NLGJA’s D.C. chapter, I sent out a notice seeking a treasurer. Michael responded that he knew how to balance a checkbook. We’d meet for coffee regularly, choosing our Starbucks based on the attractiveness of the baristas. It was there that I realized that Michael was not like many other journalists. He was stoic and focused in a fast-paced environment. Nothing seemed to faze him.

Michael succeeded me as chapter president and helped organize forums on the 2008 elections. He soon became a member of NLGJA’s national board and then its vice president. Our friendship was upgraded as well, as we started meeting for brunch in Clarendon, at a spot chosen for its buffet (as well as the large number of cute, young suburban dads).

In the short time we were friends, Michael changed in my eyes. He became more outspoken, more comfortable in his own skin. He seemed to be hitting his stride. He found a partner, was promoted at work, was doing charity work overseas. Michael seemed happy, well adjusted, successful, as if he had the whole world in front of him.

On Michael’s 47th birthday, he started a Tumblr page – My 48th Year. There, he spoke of his happiness at home and at work. “But I also get to see a doctor today about my cancer,” he wrote. “A week after it being diagnosed, Jack and I are going to see a head and neck oncologist to figure out what to do about this little tumor on my tongue. Well, I hope it’s little. I pray it’s little. We will see.”

Michael saw opportunity in everything, even cancer. He blogged often about the indignities of his treatment, how he lost the taste for food and found it difficult to shave. He wrote essays on oral cancer, its link to the human papilomavirus (HPV) and the potential for it to be spread through oral sex. And he showed the lighter side as well, how he may have been the only person who could thank cancer for making him look younger and thinner.

As he fought cancer, Michael pressed on. He rarely missed a meeting or an email exchange. He kept chairing committees and blogging for our website. When NLGJA was asked to join an alliance of minority journalists known as UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, Michael was the voice that brought calm to sometimes contentious meetings. He was the leader we needed, and he soon became our president.

Throughout the fall, it seemed Michael kept being told he needed one more treatment or surgery. When he got the news he had been dreading, that the cancer was terminal, he took to Tumblr to share the news and his thoughts—a writer to the end.

Michael showed me that advocacy can take many forms. He fought for what he believed in because he knew his thoughtful words and sweet nature would get his point across. He knew a good writer uses his pen for everything, from advocacy to therapy.

But more importantly, Michael showed me there is more than one way to make an impression. Michael left many, and our community is better for his efforts and his passion.

A memorial service will be held at noon on Saturday, Feb. 2 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 4900 Connecticut Ave., N.W. A reception will follow. Memorial contributions may be made to NLGJA (2110 L St., N.W., Suite 850, Washington, D.C. 20037); St. Paul’s Lutheran Church; or to Hospice Family Care (3304 Westmill Dr., S.W., Huntsville, Ala. 35805).

Matthew E. Berger is vice president of Dezenhall Resources, a crisis communications firm, and a member of NLGJA’s board of directors.

30
Jan
2013

Activists criticize new AP policy on couples

AP, Associated Press, gay news, Washington Blade

The Associated Press Building in New York City (Photo by Alterego via wikimedia commons)

WASHINGTON – Advocates continue to criticize the Associated Press for a memo it released on Tuesday that said journalists should use the words “husband” and “wife” to describe same-sex couples only if they have used them or in quotes attributed to them.

The memo said the news agency “generally” uses “couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”

The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association referenced the U.S. Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia court decision in a blog post about the AP memo. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and gay blogger John Aravosis also criticized the news agency.

“It isn’t the Associated Press’ job to overrule the courts and legislatures in nine American states, and numerous foreign countries,” Aravosis wrote on his blog. “Last time I checked, it’s states that determine who is legally married in America, not the Associated Press.”

14
Feb
2013

Legal experts to analyze Prop 8, DOMA cases

Jonathan Capehart, gay news, Washington Blade

Jonathan Capehart (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Former Acting U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger and nationally recognized LGBT rights attorney Paul M. Smith are scheduled to speak at a forum in D.C. on April 15 titled, “After the Arguments: DOMA and Prop 8.”

The D.C. chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the Human Rights Campaign are hosting the event, which will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the HRC building at 1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.

Commentator Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, who’s gay, will serve as moderator.

Dellinger argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court in his role as acting Solicitor General during the Clinton administration and argued additional cases before the high court during the past four years. Smith, who heads the Supreme Court Practice Division at the D.C. law firm Jenner and Block, successfully argued the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned state sodomy laws.

Organizers say the April 15 forum will analyze the arguments last week before the Supreme Court on the Prop 8 and DOMA cases and discuss the possible outcomes for both cases.

03
Apr
2013