National Association of Black Journalists Discusses LGBT Issues at Summer Convention

On August 3 – 7, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) hosted its 36th Annual NABJ Convention in Philadelphia. NABJ is an organization of journalists, students and media-related professionals that provides quality programs to and advocates on behalf of black journalists.

Thousands of the nation's leading journalists and media professionals gathered at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to take part in seminars designed to strengthen their skills. Workshops highlighted topics such as journalism ethics and the importance of elevating the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the media.

A panel hosted by NABJ’s LGBT Task Force talked in depth about opportunities for online outlets to promote LGBT visibility and the groundbreaking precedents that have already been set. Panelists included Danielle Moodie-Mills of Essence.com’s first lesbian couple to be featured in the online wedding column “Bridal Bliss,” Cheryl Kilodavis, author of My Princess Boy, and openly gay ESPN.com columnist, LZ Granderson. The panel was moderated by Kellee Terrell, project manager/news editor at TheBody.com.

Granderson explained that the discussion about anti-gay attitudes isn’t about skin color; it’s religion, geography and education that are more telling factors about how tolerant people are.

“The most important thing is dialogue,” Kilodavis added. The author and mother wrote a nonfiction picture book about acceptance, designed to start and continue a conversation about unconditional friendship and to teach children (and adults) how to accept and support children for who they are. The book tells the story of a 4-year-old boy who happily expresses his authentic self by enjoying things like jewelry, sparkles or anything pink. The book was inspired by Kilodavis’ son.

Citing the lack of exposure and images of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the media, Moodie-Mills emphasized the importance of sharing our stories.

“It’s important to be courageous and live out loud,” she said. “You encourage other people to tell their stories.”

GLAAD’s communities of African descent media field strategist, Kimberley McLeod, also appeared on a panel about ethical reporting. The discussion explored the representation of different groups and ethical boundaries. McLeod spoke specifically about the importance of fair, accurate and inclusive representations of LGBT people and lives. Other panelists included Cheryl Smith, editor-at-large of The Dallas Weekly and executive producer/host of DFWiRadio/KKDA-AM, Joel Dreyfuss, managing editor of TheRoot.com and Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor of the Associated Press.