How This Year's Outstanding Blog Nominees Are Using Their Platform to Elevate the LGBTQ Community

The Outstanding Blog category of the GLAAD Media Awards continues to recognize the incredible work of various blogs that highlight significant issues affecting the LGBTQ community. This year’s nominees - including Gay with Kids, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, My Fabulous Disease, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, and TransGriot - individually provide diverse perspectives, while collectively showcasing what it means to accelerate acceptance and elevate the stories of the LGBTQ community. Hear what each nominee has to say about the inspiration behind their blog, the significance of their work within the community and the importance of blogging in today’s society.

Founded by Brian Rosenberg and Ferd Van Gameren in 2014, Gay with Kids is the world’s largest digital media brand centered on helping gay, bi and trans dads and dads-to-be navigate through fatherhood. When asked about the inspiration behind the blog, David Dodge, an editor at Gay with Kids, told GLAAD: “Here’s the thing about queer men who want to become dads—“whoops” is rarely a word you’ll hear associated with our family creation stories. When we become parents, it is typically only after years of planning, researching, saving, and hoping. We often have to save for many years before we’re able to afford the costs associated with adoption (~$30,000) or surrogacy (~$120,000).” Dodge notes that since there are “hours of research and legal questions to consider when [queer men] explore more modern paths to fatherhood”, Gay with Kids was created to fill an existing void, “as there really was no singular online source for gay, bi and trans men to turn to gain [this type of] information” before 2014.

Since “[LGBTQ people are] constantly placed in the position of having to defend our families...against “religious freedom” bills…[and those] who question the legitimacy of our families," Dodge expresses that Gay with Kids was started “with the goal of creating a community and safe space for queer men who are or hope to become fathers—where we start from a place of celebrating, not defending, our families.” In addition to providing resources to gay, bi, and trans dads, Dodge says that Gay with Kids’ “most profound message...is told through the daily stories we tell of queer men happily and proudly living their lives and raising their children.” With the idea of helping queer men realize that parenthood is not impossible and “you can be both gay and a dad,” Dodge mentions that Gay with Kids is truly helping people with its content: “I can’t count the number of younger queer men who thank us weekly on social media...for simply bringing them images and stories of queer men who have successfully become dads.”

Of the blog posts published within the last year, Dodge says that “the work our blog does to fight for the rights and of queer dads stands out the most.” For example, Dodge mentions that the 2018 Father’s Day cover story focused on “the need for better paid parental leave policies for fathers—particularly queer and adoptive dads” and “brought the inspiring story of two couples that are fighting from within their own companies to create change.” This type of content provides such a necessary voice within the LGBTQ community and highlights exactly why Gay with Kids has now been nominated in the Outstanding Blog category for a second consecutive year. To Dodge, a GLAAD Media Award nomination “...alone means the world to [them], but is particularly meaningful for what it has done/will do in helping support the purpose of our blog—to increase the visibility of queer dads.”

Operated by Alvin A. McEwen, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters is a blog centered on analyzing and challenging misinformation about the LGBTQ community circulated by religiously conservative organizations and groups. McEwen, a African-American gay man who resides in South Carolina, founded the blog in 2006, inspired largely by “the lies told about the LGBTQ community by organizations like the Family Research Council [and] the Alliance Defending Freedom.” McEwen told GLAAD that “aside from undermining our rights, the lies [these organizations] tell influence others to treat us terribly,” which he says “played a huge part in [his] inability to come out and accept [himself] for the longest time.”

In his own words, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters’ central message is to showcase “the unfortunate fact that there are groups and activists out there attempting to undermine the LGBTQ community, our families, and our safety.” To McEwen, this is exactly why his blog represents such a powerful voice within the LGBTQ community, stating that he “[doesn’t] think people fully understand what these groups and activists are after...Even in our own community.” McEwen believes that “what [these people] don't understand is the big picture [and]...The precedent” set when we fail to expose the lies about, and targeted discrimination against, the LGBTQ community. When asked about the importance of blogging, especially in today’s society, McEwen answered that since certain media outlets purposefully exclude the voices of the LGBTQ community, “blogging allows for us to elbow our way to a seat at the table where we should have been in the first place.”

One blog post that stood out to McEwen this past year was titled “Husband/wife tandem working to ensure discriminatory, religiously biased regulations of Trump Administration," which he believes “underlines the type of opposition the LGBTQ community has to deal with.” This message encompasses the ethos of his blog - the idea that providing “[k]nowledge of [these] actions” is the first step in challenging the lies and discrimination facing the LGBTQ community today. Although this is Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters’ fourth time nominated in this category - including a win in 2017 - McEwen says that he is “always grateful for the nomination.” To him, “It means that [his] posts are being read and [his] voice is being listened to...And it motivates [him] to keep pushing forward and do more so all of our voices heard.”

My Fabulous Disease is a blog run by Mark S. King, which he says represents “his voice as a person living with HIV.” My Fabulous Disease acts his own “contribution to our community dialogue”, while also showcasing his “artistic outlet as a writer, [his] effort to chronicle the HIV epidemic, and occasionally [his] primal scream.” To King, there has “never been a more crucial time in the HIV/AIDS epidemic than this moment,” which he states has influenced the message of his blog to change over time “to include the stories of black men and women -- where the new epidemic resides -- and particularly transgender women.”

When asked why his blog represents a powerful voice within the LGBTQ community, King told GLAAD: “My journey is a testament and a documentation of the AIDS epidemic as it has affected gay white men like myself. In order to be a responsible trustee of this legacy, I know my writing must continue to broaden to include my brothers and sisters with their own stories to tell. My Fabulous Disease is important for our community because it models what it means to be inclusive within our broad ranks. We must look beyond ourselves”. To King, blogging is such an essential tool because of how personal and relatable is: “With the gentrification of the media we consume, bloggers are a pure voice of an individual. Believe me, I cannot count how many times a written piece of mine has garnered the response, ‘thank you, only you could have written this.’ I often joke that I am just a man with HIV and a keyboard, but it is that simple fact that gives me purpose and power. I am beholden to no one, I call it like I see it, and I dare to admit mistakes and remain teachable.”

When asked about his most influential blog posts over the past year, King provided three highlights: a post titled “How HIV Activists Helped Create the Jeff Flake Elevator Moment”; a written and video on the HIV Activists at Positive Women’s Network; and his own coverage of the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. These three pieces of work not only showcase the diverse set of topics that King seeks to cover, but also display exactly why this is My Fabulous Diseases’ fourth time being nominated for Outstanding Blog at the GLAAD Media Awards, with previous nominations in 2015, 2017 and 2018. In addition to stating how this nomination showcases how “[his] voice has carried beyond the HIV arena… [and] that our issues are being acknowledged beyond our usual turf,” King mentions that ‘[t]he nomination this year is especially exciting because our rights and our health are under attack as marginalized people just as we could be turning a monumental corner on the HIV epidemic in the United States.” King also notes that he “dream[s] of taking home the win [in this category] one day.”

After appearing on local radio under the name “Pittsburgh’s Official Lesbian Correspondent," Sue Kerr decided to extend her reach and voice through the creation of her blog Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents in December 2005. As a trained social worker who has “been enthralled by the power of social media...as a community organizing tool”, Kerr sees “blogging [as] an extension of [her] community organizing work as an LGBTQ activist, a feminist, a social worker, and just a human being.” In learning that “sharing [her] opinions as a queer disabled woman blogger is political”, Kerr says the central message of her blog is about “occupying space that isn’t kind to marginalized voices and stak[ing] your claim, be it about cats or politics or any topic. Your voice matters.”

On why her blog represents an important voice within the LGBTQ community, Kerr mentions that “There are no LGBTQ media outlets in Western Pennsylvania and only a handful statewide.” Despite the “proliferation of bias on broadcast media”, Kerr argues that “[bloggers] can put forth alternative perspectives and call attention to crisis in the media, including coverage of LGBTQ issues.” In an area where her voice is one of very few, Kerr believes that blogs like hers create “a dynamic archive of the early 21st century in LGBTQ life here in Western Pennsylvania.” When asked why blogging as an important tool in today’s society, Kerr expressed: “Blogging is important because in some communities it is the only place where people "read" about their own lives and experiences and identities.” However, she further notes that “blogging is endangered by the same forces that silence us elsewhere in community life,” ultimately calling on “the foundations, the major organizations investing in bloggers both to support our ongoing work and to specifically work on preserving the archives”.

To Kerr, a standout series of blog posts from the past year center on Turahn Jenkins, “a candidate for Allegheny County District Attorney who told a room of LGBTQ activists that he believes we are sinful.” Kerr argues that one of the most significant aspects of this situation is that it highlights “the repudiation of the voices of Black trans women and other Black queer folx” by his remaining queer supporters. In highlighting such pressing, yet isolated issues in her community, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents represents an integral voice with the LGBTQ community and demonstrates why it has scored a second consecutive nomination in the Outstanding Blog Category. On the significance of this nomination, Kerr stated: “I'm a 48 year old cisgender white disabled queer woman and yet I must still have something relevant to say...to be nearing 15 years along with some of the other current and former nominees is a testimony to the staying power of the media.” She continued, “One of the most frequent silencing tactics I hear is ‘No one reads your blog anyway, Sue’ - I guess maybe this demonstrates that's not quite accurate, is it?”. Kerr also highlighted that “the term 'blog' was coined in 1999 so to be nominated on the 20th anniversary of that historical moment is especially nice.”

Since 2006, Monica Roberts has used her blog TransGriot to bring discussion and awareness to issues affecting the trans community. As a black trans woman herself, the mission of Roberts’ blog, as stated on her website, is to “introduce [people] to and talk about your African descended trans brothers and trans sisters across the Diaspora, reclaim and document our chocolate flavored trans history, speak truth to power, comment on the things that impact our trans community from an Afrocentric perspective.” As discussed in a profile on Roberts published by The Daily Beast in February, Roberts has been dedicated to discovering and investigating the murders of transgender individuals in America, ultimately publishing her findings on TransGriot. As The Daily Beast profile highlights, Transgriot is often the first source to bring attention to these murders and “National LGBT advocacy organizations and mainstream news outlets alike rely on [Roberts] as an early source of information.”

Although there were other transgender-focused blogs that appeared during the blogging boom of 2000s, Roberts created TransGriot as a way to cover trans issues from a “black and person of color perspective” - something she felt was missing from the blogging landscape. In addition to covering issues surrounding violence, The Daily Beast notes that “Roberts has been serving as a sort of online historian for the transgender community since her first post in 2006. In fact, the ‘Griot’ portion of her blog’s name is a reference to West African singers and poets who act as oral historians.” Overall, TransGriot “celebrates accomplishments, mourns heroes, and issues biting political commentary.”

However, after Roberts’ profile appeared in The Daily Beast, her blog was mysteriously taken down without warning. In an interview with Out, Roberts said that she believed the TERFs - trans-exclusionary radical feminists - were behind the blog’s takedown, noting that they “are coordinating with the Republican Party, the conservative movement, and white Evangelicals to attack trans folks, and they have been since 2015.” Now that her blog is back up, Roberts told Out that “All [this removal] did was piss me off and make me even more determined to keep this blog alive and keep speaking truth to power and keep calling out our enemies, foreign and domestic.”

This is TransGriot’s 4th nomination for Outstanding Blog, following a win in the category last year. The blog’s ability to capture and report on a wide array of trans issues in a timely manner, highlights exactly why TransGriot is such a vital voice within the LGBTQ community. On the importance of TransGriot, Roberts told Out: “'I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into some trans millennial who tells me that my blog inspired them to do this or inspired them to do that. At least five people have told me that reading my blog posts is what kept them from committing suicide. So every time I sit down and start writing a post, I keep that in mind — that what I’m writing may inspire someone who does not want to persevere.'”

 

For a full list of the nominees for the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, including Gay with Kids, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, My Fabulous Disease, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, and TransGriot, please visit glaad.org/mediaawards/nominees.