NLGJA convention and LGBT Media Summit to celebrate 25th anniversary back home in San Francisco

by Chuck Colbert
additional material added by Fred Kuhr
More than 350 journalists, news executives, and communications professionals are expected in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend when the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) convenes its annual convention and 11th LGBT Media Summit at the Westin St. Francis. This is the organization’s silver anniversary. The theme of this year’s gathering is “Coming Home.”
The four-day convention begins with the LGBT Media Summit on Thursday, Sept. 3, followed by two full days of main convention programming, with plenaries and breakout sessions designed to address the needs of journalists and those in the communications industry.
NLGJA President
Jen Christensen

“I’m thrilled to have some of the most powerful LGBT leaders in the news business who will all be on one plenary to give us the inside scoop on the business and their personal perspective on what it is like to be out at the top,” said Jen Christensen, NLGJA’s president, in an email. “In a tribute to our 25th anniversary, that plenary will be moderated by top editor-turned-professor Linda Villarosa, who happened to be NLGJA’s very first keynote speaker.”

Joining Villarosa will be the first openly gay newsman to anchor a network newscast, MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, and Eden Lane, the first trans woman to anchor a mainstream news show. “Together they will join some other top talent to talk about what it is like to be out and on the air these days,” said Christensen.
“And our opening keynote will be a fascinating conversation between two ever-interesting anchors, CNN’s Richard Quest and the Weather Channel’s Sam Champion,” she said. “We’ve got some incredible professional development opportunities taught by several Pulitzer Prize and Peabody winners, who will help us sharpen our traditional writing, interviewing, and research skills, and we’ve got some smart and forward-looking thinkers from Google and Linkedin who will offer exclusive bootcamps for members to teach them a new trick or two when it comes to the best practices of social media and digital research.”
Christensen and Ken Miguel, NLGJA’s vice president of broadcasting, are the main convention co-chairs.
LGBT Media Summit
Before the main convention, professionals working in LGBT media will take part in a daylong, in-depth look at gay media.
This year’s Media Summit co-chairs are Tracy Baim, publisher and executive editor of Chicago-based Windy City Times, and Michael Yamashita, publisher of San Francisco-based Bay Area Reporter.
Michael Yamashita,
publisher of Bay Area Reporter and
LGBT Media Summit co-chair
(Photo: Cynthia Laird)

“We are proud to be the host city for the 25th anniversary of NLGJA, where it was founded, and the 11th Annual LGBT Media Summit,” said Yamashita in an email. “Tracy Baim has put together a spectacular variety of panels and presenters on diverse topics that are relevant to our communities now and in the near future. Although we have achieved marriage equality in this country, our overall battle for fairness and justice is far from over. The topics offered at the convention will help inform and guide journalists about our current issues whether they work in mainstream or LGBT media.”

Baim added, “I am looking forward to the wide range of programs and presenters we have at the LGBT media summit this year. We have panels that look back historically at LGBT media, and panels that look at the critical issues of today, including transgender coverage, religious issues, activism, younger journalists, and documentary journalists. There is a lot of interest to non-journalists, and mainstream journalists, not just those in LGBT media.”
Plenary and panel topics include “Faith, Family and Futures for LGBT Youth,” “Affirmation Proclamation: Trans* Elders Review Misgendering in News, Culture and Hollywood,” “Queerly Beloved: 25 Years of LGBT Media,” and “Black, LGBT and Read All Over: African-American Journalists in LGBT Media.”
Inductees to LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame
In advance of the convention, NLGJA announced six new inductees into the organization’s LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame.  They are Randy Alfred, Alison Bechdel, Alan Bell, Lou Chibbaro, Jr., Charles Kaiser, and Armistead Maupin.
Randy Alfred may be best known for his detailed 1980 probe of the biased and unfair portrayal of San Francisco’s gay community in CBS Reports’ “Gay Power, Gay Politics,” an investigation that ultimately resulted in CBS making a rare public apology for its failed coverage. In 1978, he co-founded the San Francisco Bay Times, the first community newspaper on the West Coast to be produced equally by lesbians and gay men. Alfred is one of the founding board members of NLGJA, according to the organization’s press release.
Alison Bechdel, has been writing for and about the LGBT community since 1983 when she began producing and self-syndicating “Dykes to Watch Out For,” a comic strip chronicling the lives, romances, and political involvement of a group of lesbians. In addition, Bechdel has been honored with a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012, a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2014, and a Tony Award for the musical adaptation of her graphic memoir “Fun Home.”
Alan Bell has been a presence within LGBT journalism for almost 40 years. Beginning in 1977 when he founded Gaysweek, New York City’s first mainstream lesbian and gay newspaper, and continuing with BLK and Blackfire, Bell has been a pioneer of LGBT journalism and activism, particularly on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. He continues to work with many non-profit organizations including the Minority AIDS Project, the Magic Johnson Foundation, and the Black AIDS Institute.
Charles Kaiser is an award-winning author and journalist, as well as an NLGJA founding board member and the second president of the New York Chapter of NLGJA. He has been practicing his craft since 1971, when he began writing for the New York Times while still an undergraduate at Columbia College. After eight years at the Times, he also wrote for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, as well as publishing three books, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning “The Gay Metropolis,” which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Lou Chibbaro, Jr., a prize-winning reporter for the Washington Blade, first took up his pen in 1976 under the pseudonym Lou Romano. Fast forward four decades, Chibbaro has covered almost everything for the Blade, including the nation’s political triumphs and protests, the rise of the AIDS epidemic, federal efforts to find and fire gay government employees and towering gay civil rights figures like the late Dr. Frank Kameny. Chibbaro made journalism history as the first LGBT inductee into the Society of Professional Journalists’ Washington Pro Chapter Hall of Fame.
Armistead Maupin is the author of nine best-selling novels, including six “Tales of the City” books, which were originally collected from the daily serials he wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle beginning in 1976. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were captured from the first three Tales novels, and “The Night Listener” became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette. A young man of the South and a Vietnam veteran, Maupin began his journalism career writing for The Daily Tar Heel, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s student newspaper.
Excellence in Journalism Awards
NLGJA only recently announced the recipients of its Excellence in Journalism Awards. These awards were established in 1993 to foster and recognize excellence in journalism on issues related to the LGBT community.
Many of those honored work in LGBT media. Below is a complete list of award recipients.
Journalist of the Year
First Place: J. Lester Feder, BuzzFeed News
Second Place: JasonParsley, South Florida Gay News
Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media
First Place: Trish Bendix, AfterEllen
Second Place: Lucas Grindley, Here Media
The Al Neuharth Award for Innovation in Investigative Journalism
Steven Thrasher for “How College Wrestling Star ‘Tiger Mandingo’ Became An HIV Scapegoat,”
Excellence in Blogging Award
First Place: Rob Smith for “They Fought The Gays and The Gays Won: How The ‘Duck Dynasty’ Stars’ Homophobia Destroyed Their Brand,”
Second Place: Faith Cheltenham for “Bisexuals at the Gates,”
Excellence in HIV/Aids Coverage Award
First Place: Benjamin Ryan for “PrEP and Prejudice,” with Oriol Gutierrez, POZ Magazine
Second Place: Doug Moore for “2,000 St. Louisans are HIV Positive but Aren’t Taking Their Medications,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Excellence in Multimedia Award
First Place: Mark Joseph Stern for “Get Déjà Vu Listening to Opponents of Interracial Marriage Argue at the Supreme Court,”
Second Place: Daniel Reynolds for “Day in LGBT America,” The Advocate, with Christopher Harrity, Yannick Delva, Michelle Garcia, Lucas Grindley, The Advocate
Third Place: J. Bryan Lowder for “Ask A Homo: Gay Bar Etiquette,”, with June Thomas
Excellence in News Writing Award
First Place: Andrew M. Seaman for Series on LGBT Health Coverage, Reuters
Second Place: Berlin Sylvestre for “Pro-LGBT Colorado Baker Slapped with Religious Discrimination Complaint,” Out Front Magazine
Third Place: Andy Birkey for “Evangelical Group Targets Twin Cities LGBT Community With ‘Ex-gay’ Message,” The Column
Excellence in Television Award
First Place: Sari Aviv for “Born This Way?,” CBS News Sunday Morning, with Rita Braver, Chad Cardin, Rand Morrison
Excellence in Online Journalism Award
First Place: Stephen Jiwanmall for “Remembering Riley,” Bucks County Courier Times
Second Place: Dave Singleton for “Finding Pride and Home: A Look at Housing for Older LGBT Adults,”
Third Place: Sunnivie Brydum for “40 Under 40: Emerging Voices,” The Advocate with Michelle Garcia, Lucas Grindley, Daniel Reynolds, Neal Broverman, Trudy Ring, Jase Peeples, Diane Anderson-Minshall, Parker Marie Molloy, Tracy E. Gilchrist, Annie Hollenbeck and Thom Senzee
Excellence in Opinion/Editorial Writing Award 
First Place: Mark Segal for Mark My Words Column, Philadelphia Gay News
Second Place: Richard Kim for Against the Current Column, The Nation
Third Place: Richard J. Rosendall for Cutting Holes in the Law, Washington Blade
Excellence in Photojournalism Award
First Place: T.J. Thomson for “More than a Formality,” Columbia Missourian
Second Place: Scott A. Drake for “Pride in Philly,” Philadelphia Gay News
Excellence in Radio Award
First Place: Tina Antolini for “Trans Families,” State of the Re:Union/WJCT with Al Letson
Second Place: Jason DeRose for “Religious Support for LGBT Ugandans,” KALW Public Radio with Julie Caine
Excellence in Student Journalism Award
Jessi Hotakainen for “Trans Mississippi,”

Founded in 1990, NLGJA is the leading professional organization for LGBT journalists with 18 chapters nationwide, as well as members around the globe. The 2015 Hall of Fame and Excellence in Journalism Awards Ceremony will take place on September 5 at the Coming Home National Convention & LGBT Media Summit and 25thAnniversary Celebration. More information is available at
Volume 17
Issue 5


September 28, 2017 at 7:02 am

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August 25, 2015