The city will be the site for the 2013 LGBT Media Journalists Convening, Feb. 22-24.
The event, now in its fourth year, is made possible through a grant from the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, administered by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
Bil Browning, founder and editor-in-chief of The Bilerico Project, the largest LGBT group blog on the Web, said this is the first year that a host of cities were “clamoring” to host the Convening.
“Philly put together the best package,” Browning said. “My goal is always to get as many people to the Convening as possible and with some of the great perks Philly had to offer, I think we’ll probably nearly double our attendance.”
Last year’s event drew about 40 participants, and Browning expects about 70 invitees to turn out for the 2013 Convening.
Comcast will host the Friday-night dinner at the top of its Comcast Tower, and the city, through the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Campaign, will sponsor a Saturday-night meetup for the participants and their readers. The weekend will also include an appearance by special guest Mayor Michael Nutter.
Before guests leave Sunday, GPTMC will host a free sightseeing tour of historic Philadelphia, followed by a brunch.
Browning said the final activity is expected to be a hit with guests.
“Our attendees usually fly out Sunday morning but a lot have complained that they don’t have the chance to see the host city enough, so the folks at the Philly tourism bureau had the great idea of doing the tour and brunch,” he said. “Most people who have responded so far haven’t been to Philly before so they’re very excited.”
The first Convening, held in New York City, only had about 20 attendees, as a blizzard hit that weekend. The event has grown each year, as has the makeup of online writers — with about two-thirds of the guests expected to be from the blogosphere.
Browning said organizers will bring in a number of top professionals to lead discussions on reporting LGBT issues.
“We want to be able to inform reporters’ writing,” he said. “To give them sources to get quotes, to give them background information on the things going on inside the social-justice struggle. We try to get the best in the field to address the journalists, and a lot of times these aren’t people they’ve had access to. These are issues that they often write about regularly but a lot feel like they don’t know enough to go in-depth, and we want them to be able to go in-depth if they so choose.”
This year’s theme is “Coalition Building,” with topics to include aging, immigration, race relations and the labor movement.
Browning, who comes from a union family, said issues that are often considered mainstream have LGBT components, which LGBT media members and their readers should appreciate.
“Whenever I write about labor issues, it’s interesting to see how some readers react by saying that this isn’t our issue. The first sexual-orientation protections came from union contracts, and the first gender-identity protections came from union contracts. In places where there are no government protections for LGBT workers, their legal protections often come from union contracts,” he said. “You see the same thing in immigration rights. The [effort to pass immigration bill the DREAM Act is] largely driven by gays and lesbians, young people. These aren’t just issues that should be one group’s priority but all of our priorities. That’s the beauty of the LGBT community; we are involved in so many different areas of life, there’s not one type of person who’s gay. It’s time we started paying attention to that.”