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LGBT Media Convened 2014

LGBT Media Convened 2014

This year’s LGBT Media Journalists Convening that took place in Washington D.C. was a dynamic and diverse weekend of ideas and information. The theme, "Honing Our Game," set the tenor of what attendees were presented with, beginning with the first panel teaching us how to “bust myths.” In a day and age where many LGBT journalists and activists are not only writing but appearing on TV pitted against right-wing fear mongers or just being asked inane questions by well meaning progressive pundits, it is essential to learn how to talk about our issues in a way that mainstream audiences can understand and relate to.

Communications expert Joel Silberman explained how to skillfully maneuver a conversation by “pivot and bridge,” and thus avoiding being on defense and steering the talking points to the facts. In reference to the antagonism, LGBT spokespeople often face on cable news shows, Masen Davis who leads the Transgender Law Center advised, “don’t buy into anyone’s anger, it will only delegitimize what you stand for.”

One of the complaints that are often made at many of these kinds of conferences, is the predominance of the “white gay male” agenda. This year organizers of LGBT Media Journalists Convening took many of the critiques and suggestions made last year and sought much more diverse panel presentations and participants.

Lorella Praeli lead a discussion on the intersection of queer issues and immigration. Praeli is a Peruvian born “DREAMer” who has been on the forefront of student immigrant rights groups over the last years. She emphatically drove home the necessity to understand the impact of the current immigration laws on our communities and that keeping the discussion going in the media is essential for progress.

This was followed by moderator Erin Rook’s panel “What We Don't Talk About: Radical Methods For Greater Diversity In Queer Journalism.” Panelists Reina Gossett from the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Bi visibility activist Robyn Ochs, and Paul Kawata who spoke about HIV, rounded out the discussion.

There was also a focus on how to cover controversial topics within trans identity and racial issues if you yourself are not trans or a person of color. The panel moderated by Sarah Blazucki included; Darlene Nipper, Steven Thrasher, and Mara Keisling who peeled back the veil of polite conversation to get to the heart of things. Bottom line: there is no polite way to talk about race or trans issues if you are not a part of those communites, so expect to make mistakes and maybe say the wrong things, and allow it to be a learning experiences for all.

The conference wasn’t all about social and civil issues, Trish Benidix from AfterEllen moderated a panel on queer media and technology. Journalists were advised by the techie panelists Kortney Ziegler and Tyler Chance on the best ways to amplify/viral-ize stories, how to configured websites in the age of mobile, and how to unclutter web spaces so content can be most effective.

The day ended with much promise for future gatherings in which the minorities within our larger movement begin to shape our agenda—this had many in attendance already talking about next year’s conference. Hats off to organizers: Matt Foreman, Sarah Blazucki, Trish Bendix, Rebecca Juro, Daniel Villareal, Erin Rook, lead by Bil Browning of The Bilerico Project.