Passionate and industrious, she’s a staunch advocate for those whose voices often go unheeded or simply unheard.
That, in a nutshell, describes Jess Bryant — the newest editor of Philadelphia Gay News, according to her former boss and friend.
Bryant joined PGN on April 8, and will replace Denise Fuhs, who has held the position on a temporary basis since January.
Bryant, a 2016 graduate of Eastern Washington University’s MFA program, was managing/assistant editor at the Gettysburg Review, where she worked for two-and-a-half years prior to joining PGN.
“Whether working independently or collaboratively, she comports herself professionally, with a sensitivity to everyone, including the fools we all must occasionally suffer,” said Mark Drew, her editor at Gettysburg. “Her standards are high, and her ideals deeply held — two qualities that are essential not just for an editor, but for a citizen at a time when truth and integrity have become four-letter words.”
Bryant, 32, grew up in southern Indiana, where, she said, she always had aspired to be “a writer or a detective.”
One of those seems to have worked out.
“I am thrilled to work for PGN, a newspaper that has a rich history informing Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA-plus community about the pressing issues we face,” Bryant said. “As our community grows, so does visibility and responsibility. I want to understand all members of our community and help to represent the diversity of voices that make up the LBGTQIA-plus community in this city.”
PGN Publisher Mark Segal said the search for a permanent editor of PGN has taken some time, “as it should, since finding the right person to helm America’s most journalistically awarded LGBT media takes a person with great ethics, professional judgments and organizational skills, as well as the appreciation and knowledge of the community they will serve as editor.”
“Jess comes to PGN with a wealth of experience,” Segal added. “And, as a millennial, she brings a new and welcomed perspective to the news department. Her optimistic outlook and passion for getting the story and getting it right is what journalism is all about. I’m sure she will take PGN to new heights and we’re happy to welcome her.”
Fuhs, who is leaving for personal and family reasons, expressed confidence in her successor.
“In the short time I’ve worked with Jess during this transition, she’s quickly demonstrated a keen understanding of the community, its needs and what PGN is all about. She’s smart, enthusiastic and full of ideas that will surely move PGN forward in our ever-growing and continually diversifying community.
“I have no doubt that the Philly LGBTQ community will embrace her and respect what she brings to this publication and its readership,” Fuhs added. “I’m thrilled to pass the baton to Jess. And as a former cross-country star, I know she will take it and run far and fast with it.”
Bryant lives in Mount Airy with her partner, Eliza Taft. She moved back to the East Coast after completing her MFA when she took the position with the Gettysburg Review.
Her long route to Pennsylvania included stints in Argentina, where she worked for an artisan selling jewelry and sold empanadas on the street; Salt Lake City, where she worked at an art store, skiing in her spare time and elsewhere. She eventually ended up in Westerville, Ohio, where she attended Otterbein University and earned a bachelor’s degree in English. Before attending graduate school, she spent some time in New Mexico, near the Juarez border.
Before her worldwide treks, Bryant spent six years in New York City where she held numerous jobs including working at art stores, repairing bikes and working in City Hall’s lobbying bureau.
She enjoys hiking, biking and reading and writing poetry in her spare time.
Bryant said she hopes to speak to the organizational leaders of the community as well as those who fight, through alternative means, for justice, equity and representation.
“I want to know what Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA community cares about, what the goals are, what legislation is most important, how representation can be improved,” she said. “I want to specifically reach out to QPOC folks in our community and to our transgender community, to hear and elevate those voices.”