For nine years, South Carolina blogger Alvin McEwen (aka Black Tsunami) has chronicled anti-LGBT religious hypocrites on his site Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters. For eight years, Maryland blogger Mark S. King has detailed his experiences living with HIV on his site My Fabulous Disease. Both men have previously been nominated for the “Oustanding Blog” award by Gays and Lesbians Allied Against Defamation (GLAAD), but now that GLAAD has dropped that honor from their 27th Annual Media Awards, LGBT bloggers like them (and us) have no chance of having their efforts recognized by America’s largest LGBT media organization… and that’s a serious mistake.
Among this year’s nominees (announced yesterday by GLAAD), the competitors for Outstanding Digital Journalism include publications with large revenues and staffs like Vice, Buzzfeed, Advocate, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and MSNBC — giants that small-time bloggers (many whom work 9-to-5 day jobs) could never compete with.
“I don’t fit the pattern of the conventional well-dressed younger twink or older well-to-do White mostly male LGBT leader or activist one sees on television or reads about in our magazines and online publications,” said McEwen in a recent post about the awards.
“[GLAAD’s elimination of the ‘Outstanding Blog’ category] sends a negative message to grassroots and non-celebrities like myself. The GLAAD Media Awards should help to elevate new leaders, not push them away because lack of notoriety or fame. It’s not just solely about visibility, but also acknowledging and cultivating new spokespeople and leaders.”
As a resident of the south, McEwen and other independent bloggers (like Monica Roberts, the longtime trans activist behind TransGriot in Houston, Texas and also a former GLAAD ‘Outstanding Blog’ nominee) provide a valuable vantage point for covering local LGBT politics, much like Roberts did throughout the battle over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Such coverage provides nuance and reveals the day-to-day realities of on-the-ground political battles, things that national LGBT organizations and outlets like the Human Rights Campaign and Advocate.com typically overlook.
In addition to raising awareness about anti-LGBT religious figures, McEwen has also independently created a book entitled, How They See Us a visual history of anti-gay talking points and illustrations the religious right has used against gays for decades. His book provides a good historical resource and represents the sort of journalistic initiatives that GLAAD and its ilk should encourage, especially if they hope to build future successes from past lessons.
Expressing his own take on the GLAAD Awards, King said:
“[GLAAD] Communications director Seth Adam tells me that “online journalism” and “blogging” have become indistinguishable in the media landscape. That’s ridiculous… We, as bloggers, provide a voice of lived experience not featured in mainstream outlets… It’s shameful that a national organization that purports to lift up LGBT voices has dismissed the very people and outlets that deserve encouragement and recognition.”
To King, GLAAD isn’t just marginalizing bloggers and their unique voices, they’re treating them as “dispensable and ultimately invisible.”
It’s also worth noting that back when GLAAD did give out the “Outstanding Blog” award, King says, that the organization refused to offer the award-winner complimentary tickets to the event itself. While the event is a fundraiser, King regards it as further evidence of GLAAD’s uneasy relationship with smaller media creators.
But perhaps he’s right: the Awards really are predominantly a fundraiser, and by honoring big media outlets and celebrities for their work in LGBT-films, GLAAD certainly hopes to draw big name celebs and big bucks. But by ignoring smaller bloggers, they’re poisoning the pond that allowed the bigger fish to first grow.