Main | Monday, August 25, 2008

NLGJA Convention: In Which I Get Called A Stalinist

This weekend's trip to the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists convention in DC turned out to be a lot of fun. Friday night I met my pal, personal blogger Jimbo Barrett, who treated me to dinner and cosmos at gay fave Duplex before we headed to a party at the Adams Morgan home of outing kingpin Mike Rogers, author of BlogACTIVE and PageOneQ.

Tons of bloggerati and LGBT activism stars were in the house, including Truth Wins Out author and anti-ex-gay activist Wayne Besen, Mark Foley's outer Lane Hudson, SiriusXM radio host Michelangelo Signorile, Box Turtle Bulletin author Jim Burroway, North Carolina activist and Soulforce rider Matt Comer, Advocate editor Jon Barrett, Sen. Larry Craig's one-time rentboy David Phillips, and furniture mogul Mitchell Gold. Many more folks were in attendance, but looking at all the business cards on my hotel room desk the next morning, I was having a hard time connecting faces and names.ABOVE: SiriusXM producer David Guggenheim, Michelangelo Signorile, David Phillips. BELOW: Mitchell Gold and Lane Hudson.
BELOW: Matt Comer (L), Wayne Besen (R).

The next morning I spoke on the convention's ENDA panel where award winning journalist and panel moderator Michael Triplett did a fantastic job of keeping Log Cabin Republicans head Patrick Sammon and I from strangling each other. All seemed to be in agreement that the gay press and blogosphere had done a poor job in educating the public about the true ramifications of a trans-exclusive ENDA.

Aside from the utter unfairness of ditching our trans friends, another point I tried to drive home was that without gender identity and gender expression protections, only Jimmy Jock and Suzie Creamcheese would have true job protection. Non-trans but feminine men or masculine women could still be fired for presenting what their employers considered a "non-professional" image. We'd be protecting the "passable", but not the people at the fringes of traditional gender behaviors, even though they are not transgender.

Triplett turned the conversation to the other big divisive issue, gay Republicans, and LCR head Sammon spoke with the measured eloquence of the television reporter he used to be. Triplett then pointed out that whenever the gay press mentioned the LCR, it tended to be in a "let's take a trip to the zoo and look at the funny gays" sort of vein. (Guilty!) Advocate editor Jon Barrett promised an end to that sort of treatment of the LCRs, much to Sammon's satisfaction. (Barrett also revealed that the Advocate's ENDA cover story issue had been the lowest selling of the year, another example of the work that needs to be done there.)

And then we came to the McCain/Manhunt story. Sammon said that it was "Stalinist" of bloggers (looks at me) to rebuke a private businessman for his personal political opinions and complained about a double standard, saying (paraphrasing here), "If a Democrat was fired from the board of directors of Walmart for his party affiliation, you guys would scream bloody murder." I countered that you can't compare a publicly-held non-gay business to one that is not only entirely funded by gay men, but is arguably largely responsible for a massive redrawing of modern gay culture. Sammon: "Oh, so you'd refuse to patronize a gay bar owned by a gay Republican?" Me: "If I knew in advance, yes I'd refuse." Sammon: "Well, at least you're consistent."

Triplett then asked me about some of the hot buttons here on JMG, including his impression that any time I quote Andrew Sullivan, some you folks completely lose your shit at the mere mention of his name. He also wondered why this here website thingy has the most vociferous commenting community of the LGBT blogosphere. I lamely said something like, "Oh, they're just a bunch of really chatty people." (I should have said "smarter" instead of "chatty", but there were other bloggers in the room. I kid, I kid.) After the panel ended, I had to ask Triplett about the seating arrangement on the dais, but he swore it was pure coincidence that Sammon and I were placed at opposite ends of the podium. Hmm.

That evening I attended the Not So Silent Auction party in the host hotel's ballroom, the same room where the White House Press Correspondents Dinner is held every year. The rear exit of the ballroom is where Reagan was shot, hence the hotel's moniker, "the Hinckley Hilton." At the auction party I met lots of gay folks from the MSM, including reporters from the NYTimes and Washington Post. Again, I can't match faces to names, so no photos of those people.

After the best burger I've had in a long, long time, I did a quick change at the hotel and headed for the DC Eagle to meet up with longtime pal Mike, author of Manhattan Chowder, and JMG reader Rich, a handsome funny fellow with a great laugh, despite his seemingly grim job working at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, where he works on drug-related HIV infections. Towards the end of the evening, we had a very amusing encounter with a spectacularly drunk twink, but that story is not quite suitable for this post. All in all a fantastic weekend and I give much thanks to the NLGJA and Michael Triplett for having me.

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