This weekend, NLGJA: The Association of LGBT Journalists has its annual convention, held this year in Philadelphia. The organization and its membership may not be what you expect. For the most part, the focus is not on LGBT media, but rather the organization serves as a place for LGBT journalists who mostly work in mainstream media, in places like CNN, MSNBC and news divisions of the three major networks — NBC, ABC and CBS — as well as print media like New York Times, Washington Post and, of course, Philadelphia Inquirer.
NLGJA is a place for those in media to network and discover how they can bring their identities and their community’s voice into the newsroom. And when a story breaks with an LGBT angle, NLGJA helps guide them on how they can be the person in that newsroom to point out the importance and particulars of that story. For any of us who grew up in a time when our community was literally invisible in the newsroom, and on TV, radio or even in newspapers, we know how important these people are, and how hard it was for them to be out and fighting for our community in their profession.
And if you ever wonder how important that is, here’s a way to look at it. In just the last nine months, we in the media have had to report on the president’s ban on transgender people in the military, the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, the fight against conversion therapy, the onslaught of bathroom legislation aimed at our trans sisters and brothers, efforts to have us as a community wiped off the 2020 census, the “compromised” legislation on HB 2 in North Carolina, the murder of LGBT people in Chechnya, the anti-Semitism at the Chicago Dyke March and the racism in our community … and those are just a few of the stories.
Aside from breaking news, NLGJA members help produce, write or host many of the news shows you watch. So each time you see a news item about our community, thank the members of NLGJA for doing their part in the battle for equality.