by Chuck Colbert
A former editor at the only LGBT weekly in Texas, fired more than two months ago, is moving on. John Wright, who served as Dallas Voice senior editor from 2012 to September 2013, has launched Lone Star Q, an online gay media outlet.
In announcing the new online-only publication last month, Wright stated, “During my seven years as a reporter and editor at Dallas Voice, it became clear that what Texas really needs is a statewide, online LGBT news and information source.”
Wright points to Texas as the nation’s second most populous state (26 million people) and its decidedly conservative red-state status as reason enough for a statewide LGBT news source.
As he noted on Nov. 19 in an online post: “The LGBT community has no statewide protections against discrimination and zero relationship recognition at the state level in Texas. Part of the challenge is geography. The big cities where LGBT people tend to gravitate are so spread out that it hampers communication and information-sharing among activists and organizations. Dallas has a weekly newspaper. Houston has a monthly magazine. San Antonio and Austin have web sites. But other areas, from El Paso to East Texas, have essentially nothing, and no media outlet consistently and thoroughly reports on issues affecting the LGBT community statewide, including the state’s executive, judicial and legislative branches. Lone Star Q is designed to fill that void by becoming a centralized clearinghouse for LGBT news and information across the Lone Star State.”
During a recent telephone interview, Wright said he hopes Lone Star Q fills “a void and need,” adding, “I am excited, giving it a whirl, and hoping for the best. But I also realize the challenge of the digital marketplace and revenues.” In all, “I think Lone Star Q can play an important role in the struggle for equality in Texas.”
As Wright explained in his posting, “One thing I’ve learned covering the LGBT movement is that communication and education — within the community, among allies and even among opponents — are critical to achieving equality. From transgender protections at both Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Dallas County, to a fully inclusive anti-bullying policy at the Dallas Independent School District, my reporting at Dallas Voice served as a catalyst for change. With your help, Lone Star Q can do so too — and on a larger playing field.”
For now, he said over the telephone, Lone Star Q would be exclusively digital. “There’s a great [mainstream] publication called Texas Tribune that was launched several years ago,” Wright explained. “I envision Lone Star Q as an LGBT version of Texas Tribune, which does a tremendous job of statewide news, mostly political.”
Based for now in Dallas, Wright “ideally” hopes to add stringers from various metropolitan areas, including Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.
Coverage will be a blend of local and state news and politics, with some national reporting but only as it pertains to Texas, said Wright.
Nonetheless, when Texas lawmakers again go into session next year, Wright may relocate to Austin, the state capital. “Every two years when the legislature meets, nobody’s covering the LGBT stuff,” he said.
Asked about his untimely departure from Dallas Voice, Wright said that the matter is behind him. In establishing Lone Star Q, he said, “I am moving on in the next chapter of my career,” even as “I apply a lot of the experience I got at Dallas Voice.”
Back in September, Wright alleged, in a Facebook posting and through local Texas media, that his ouster stemmed from “doing journalism” by reporting on a dress-code ban on nudity at Dallas Pride. Wright claimed that parade organizers were angered by his reporting of the nudity ban and put pressure on Dallas Voice publisher Leo Cusimano, who in turned let him go.
“Organizers of the parade are among the Voice’s biggest advertisers, and they [were] not at all happy when this [dress code story] became a national story. They blamed me for it,” Wright wrote in a Facebook posting that has been subsequently deleted.
For his part, Voice publisher Cusimano told The Dallas Observer that the firing was “an internal employee matter.”
Wright “has his opinions, and we have ours,” explained Cusimano, who also said the “wall between editorial and advertising was put in place by my direction [as advertising director], and is still in place and is very strong.”
Over the past five years or so, Dallas Voice has had a series of firings in addition to Wright’s, including senior editor Tammye Nash in 2012, staff writer/editor David Webb in 2008, and arts/lifestyle editor Daniel Kusner in 2009.
In email correspondence and over the telephone, Webb (who is also a writer for Press Pass Q) said that his termination resulted from “the publication’s pressing need to fill my position because I was unable to work due to a long recovery from surgery after an accident.”
Unlike the others terminated, however, Webb continued to freelance for Dallas Voice for some time.
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Lone Star Q is off to a great start. I say that not just because I am a contributor, but because it fills a real need here in Texas. Great start John!