by Joe Siegel
Over 700 LGBTQ journalists gathered in Philadelphia Sept. 7-10 for the annual NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists convention. According to the group’s executive director, Adam Pawlus, this was the “largest convention in our history.”
During the convention, Ken Miguel, president of the organization’s national board, revealed NLGJA’s new look and logo.
“In a heartfelt speech during the opening reception, Miguel addressed some of the historical concerns about the association’s name and expressed the board’s commitment to inclusivity, saying, ‘We are committed to making our association the home for all LGBTQ+ journalists,’” Pawlus said.
The group’s new logo puts “The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists” front and center, alongside a nod to the association’s original founding in 1990 as “NLGJA,” which originally stood for the “National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.” In writing, the association will continue to be known as “NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists.” Its website remains nlgja.org.
Miguel also highlighted the many partnerships and projects that the association has embarked on over the past year, including a joint initiative with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ LGBTQIA+ Task Force to update the Spanish Language Stylebook on LGBTQ+ Terminology, and a partnership with the Trans Journalists Association to address problematic coverage and provide guidance to newsrooms in need.
The organization presented its 2023 Excellence in Journalism Awards and recognized exemplary work produced in 2022. The highest individual awards, Journalist of the Year and Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for LGBTQ+ Journalist of the Year, were awarded to Ari Shapiro, one of the hosts of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and columnist and freelancer Victoria A. Brownworth, respectively.
Miguel expressed his enthusiasm for this year’s award recipients, stating, “On behalf of the association, I offer my congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Excellence in Journalism Awards. Each recipient has demonstrated outstanding skill, integrity, and commitment to reporting stories that are essential for LGBTQ+ visibility and equality. Your dedication to highlighting diverse voices, uncovering important issues, and promoting understanding is an inspiration to us all.”
The Philadelphia Gay News was the 2023 recipient of the Legacy Award.
The NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists Legacy Award was created to recognize an outlet, publication or news organization that has exhibited innovative, high-quality and sustained news coverage of the LGBTQ+ community over an extended period of time, according to the group.
“The Philadelphia Gay News’ remarkable journalistic contributions and dedicated coverage have undeniably brought visibility to Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ community,” said Pawlus. “With a commitment to truth and a fearless approach, PGN has consistently amplified underrepresented voices and shared impactful stories that resonate. This award celebrates PGN’s enduring influence and the invaluable service they have provided to Philadelphia through the years.”
“It’s humbling for PGN to be recognized by its peers,” said Mark Segal, PGN’s founder and publisher. “The honors belong to the staff that have built this publication over the last 48 years. Over 48 years we’ve witnessed and reported on the building of our community and the efforts to keep it thriving. When most of us legacy LGBT publications started, there were few legal, health or governmental protections for LGBT people. Back then, our community was invisible to mainstream media, so LGBT publications had to be the media of record. Today we have LGBT health clinics, legal organizations, community centers, LGBT senior affordable living centers, youth centers, and businesses of all kinds. But with that progress we also see new obstacles to equality, and so LGBT media is once again called upon to be that voice in the darkness.”
Ryan Williams, D.C. Public Library digital and special events producer and NBC Out and NBCBLK creator, was the recipient of the 2023 NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists Leadership Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made a positive impact on their newsrooms by increasing diversity and improving news coverage of the LGBTQ community, according to the group.
“Ryan has demonstrated a deep dedication to uplifting diverse voices at every stage of his career. In helping to create NBC Out, he paved a path for legacy journalism institutions to deepen and broaden their coverage of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Pawlus. ”His stewardship of organizations like NABJ, NBCBLK and more has provided countless opportunities for journalists of color and enriched our media landscape. On behalf of the association, we are delighted to recognize his many contributions to our industry with this award.”
Christina Kahrl was the recipient of the 2023 Jeanne Córdova Award.
The award is named for Córdova, who was the editor and publisher of Lesbian Tide, which chronicled the 1970s lesbian feminist movement. The Jeanne Córdova Award recognizes the achievement of an LGBTQ+ woman for a current body of work in journalism and/or opinion, with an emphasis on but not exclusively coverage of issues of importance to the LGBTQ+ community, in any medium and on any platform.
Kahrl came out publicly as transgender in 2003, becoming the first out trans sports journalist in the U.S. Kahrl has been the sports editor for the San Francisco Chronicle since 2021, where she became one of the few women ever named to lead a sports section for a major daily newspaper, and the first transgender woman. Previously, she served first as a senior editor for MLB, and later national sports coverage at ESPN.com. In her brief time with the Chronicle, the section has already received multiple nominations and awards for its columnists, investigative reporting, breaking news and digital coverage of sports.
Cynthia Salinas Cappellano and Nada Merghani were the respective recipients of the Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship and the Kay Longcope Scholarship.
“Supporting the next generation of LGBTQ+ journalists is a cornerstone of our mission at the association,” said Pawlus. “Each year, it brings me great pleasure to recognize and uplift some of our industry’s rising stars with our scholarship program. Both Salinas Cappellano and Merghani have demonstrated a deep commitment to fair and accurate coverage of LGBTQ+ people and communities, and I am excited to see where their journeys will lead them.”