by Joe Siegel
News Is Out, a queer media collaborative launched earlier this year by seven legacy media publishers — Bay Area Reporter, Dallas Voice, Philadelphia Gay News, Q Voice News, Tagg Magazine, Washington Blade and Windy City Times — released the results of their first reader survey.
“We were thrilled to get the number of survey respondents that we did,” said Dana Piccoli, project manager for News Is Out. “Just the wealth of information people were willing to share with us.”
Over half of the survey respondents said they didn’t feel represented in the media at all, and an additional third felt only somewhat represented. This sentiment stems from several factors, including sexual orientation or gender identity, race, political stance, economic status, age and location. A recent Gallup poll found that more than five percent of the U.S. population now identifies as LGBTQ, the largest number on record.
“With an estimated 18 million people identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community, this is a massive segment of people who do not see themselves reflected in media,” said Penny Riordan, director of business strategy and partnerships for the Local Media Foundation, which is behind the collaboration. “We heard in focus groups that queer life outside big cities is often ignored. While larger cities have more resources and queer spaces, LGBTQ+ people live in all corners of the country and come from all walks of life. Even those in areas in closer proximity to big cities shared their frustration at not feeling seen. We are planning to fill in the gaps in coverage in rural communities,”
The report showcasing the survey results noted that for the LGBTQ community, brand support is a two-way street. The community has a long memory of brands supporting or not supporting LGBTQ people and issues. This topic is particularly sensitive right now as brands weigh how and when to support the community during a deluge of anti-LGBTQ legislation. Survey participants looked more fondly at brands that support the community throughout the year versus those that only show up in June during Pride season.
“We’re at a crossroads right now,” Piccoli said, adding the Walt Disney Company and Florida were mentioned frequently by respondents. This was in reference to the recently passed so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits teachers from talking about sexual orientation in some classrooms. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has lashed out at Disney for their defense of LGBTQ rights.
“If (companies) want to continue to court and reach the LGBTQ community, I think now would be the time to really step forward and say, “Here’s how we’re going to support you, whether that’s financially or whether its representation,” Piccoli continued. “We’re in a very difficult time and I think a lot of businesses will find themselves having to make a decision whether to step up and support the LGBTQ community or to remain silent.”
For more information, go to newsisout.com.
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