We need more LGBTQ news, not less

We need more LGBTQ news, not less

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The news was shocking. On Jan. 15, Grindr laid off the entire editorial staff of INTO, their award-winning news site. According to Business Insider, the move was spurred by a “shift to video content,” but associate editor Mary Emily O’Hara tweeted, “I see a lot of comments about Grindr closing down INTO in a ‘pivot to video’ and want to clarify for the record: INTO’s video staff was also let go today.”

INTO was roundly seen as the future of queer media. Profiled in The New York Times, Washington Post and Vanity Fair, honored by GLAAD and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, as well as the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the publication had broken major news stories as well as focused attention where LGBTQ publications had failed so often: on the non-gay-white-male majority of the queer community.

Focusing on millennial queers with an emphasis on women and trans queers, INTO also refused to ignore people of color, as so many LGBTQ publications have in the past.

Since it started two years ago, INTO had been building its hot brand. And then — boom. Done.

The story of what happened may be more complex than the Grindr press release suggested, but as Business Insider noted, INTO had both broken ground and risen fast, and “quickly made an impact on the starved LGBT media ecosystem.”

And “starved” it is. As a contributing editor at Curve magazine since its inception, a writer and columnist for The Advocate for two decades and a contributor to the LGBTQ department at Huffington Post, I have watched queer media fly and fall. But in the past few months, queer content has been less and less on established news sites, making the shuttering of INTO loom even more ominously.

Who is reporting our queer news? I do in-depth investigative reporting for several national news sites. But who is doing that work for the queer press? In December, I did a two-part investigative series on LGBTQ poverty in Philadelphia, which received national attention. But such series are time consuming and publications must be willing to cover such stories. INTO did that, with in-depth, award-winning stories on transgender prisoners and LGBTQ asylum seekers, among other work.

Now, it’s gone, making the queer news landscape that much less accessible for those who most need it. In a press release, the editorial staff noted, “We aimed to give a voice to those who need one now more than ever, a platform for them to see themselves wholly.”

The lens through which we see everything is complex. But when it comes to news, the skew is always white, male, heteronormative, cis-gender. Where is the other side — our side?

The role of the LGBTQ press is more vital than ever as the Trump administration does daily damage to our community. This past weekend the president met behind closed doors with anti-gay activists, among them Ginni Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.

According to The New York Times, Trump “listened quietly” as the group gave vent to their strident outrage over transgender and gay military service and other issues. The NYT also reported that the anti-LGBT activists said, “women shouldn’t serve in the military because they had less muscle mass and lung capacity than men.” They revived the anger from conservatives over the Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality, saying it is “harming the fabric of the United States.”

That these attacks on LGBTQ Americans are being heard by the president in a meeting at the White House is concerning. Stories like these demand coverage by LGBTQ people for LGBTQ people. Issues that matter to our community — breaking news as well as the in-depth articles — these stories have to be told by us. We can’t rely on straight media to remember we’re here, let alone that our vantage point on stories integral to our lives might be wholly different from the straight skew from straight media.

That’s why we need more, not less queer media addressing the issues vital to our community. The demise of INTO is shocking and saddening for our community because it means that once again, voices long suppressed will not be heard: ours. n

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