By: Richard A. Fowler, Contributing Writer
As GLAAD rewrites the script on LGBTQIA acceptance, members of the Black LGBTQIA media community have been working to ensure fair, inclusive, and representative coverage for communities of color and the LGBTQIA community. We’d like to recognize 12 of those impactful media personalities and journalists currently shaping the narrative and working collectively to change the culture for all.
During Black History Month, these 12 Black Media Storytellers remind us of the progress, hard work, and dedication that the Black LGBTQIA community has made building media platforms, rising through the ranks in newsrooms across the country, fighting to include their voices, perspectives, and lived-experience storytelling in the country’s vast media landscape.
From Thomas Morgan III, the first gay Black man elected as president of the National Association of Black Journalists, to the bravery of anchors and personalities like ABC’s Robin Robers, CNN’s Don Lemon, and the Los Angeles Times’ L.Z. Granderson, Black LGBTQIA reporting and contributions are deeply woven into the fiber of American culture.
That being said, here are the 12 Black LGBTQIA journalists and media members you should be on the look out for in 2023:
Since his time at the anchor desk at WPBF 25 in West Palm Beach, Florida, Victor Blackwell has centered the voices of the vulnerable in his quest to hold the powerful accountable. Whether it be his special report on the disproportionate dropout rate among Black men in Florida or his commentary about former President Trump’s distorted description of Baltimore, Blackwell has utilized his roles as anchor, broadcast report, radio broadcaster, and producer to engage, empower, and nurture greater understanding about some of the most complicated storylines of this time.
CNN recently announced that Blackwell would be one of the network’s leading voices on the weekends, anchoring an original show at 10:00AM EST on Saturdays and co-anchoring CNN This Morning Weekend with Amara Walker.
Interviewing luminaries such as Revered Jesse Jackson and Ambassador Andrew Young at the Mephis hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down, Blackwell’s storytelling is intelligent, witty, and contains a sense of wisdom that could only come from Maryland’s queen city, Baltimore; Blackwell makes this list as his voice continues to raise the bar on broadcast journalism in polarizing times.
“I ain’t never really gone,” Clay Cane tells his midday SiriusXM Urban View audience before signing off.
Those words are the truth, from his first book Live Through This to his upcoming title The Grift, Cane sees his role as a radio host, author, and journalist as an opportunity to bring the voices of everyday people into the halls of power.
On The Clay Cane Show, American audiences hear the voice of Black Gay America unencumbered, empowered, and laser-focused on the political, social, and economic inequities keeping our nation divided. Interviewing everyone from Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, to R&B icon Patti Labelle and award-winning producer Tyler Perry, Cane’s hard work and dedication to the craft of storytelling and going against the grain has opened up space for new Black LGBTQIA voices.
In 2016, Cane’s BET.com original documentary, Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church scored him a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Clay Cane scores a spot on this list as he is always on the scene, and “never really gone,” when it comes to the issues facing the Black community and those identifying as LGBTQIA.
Eugene Daniels currently covers the White House for Politico and authors Politico’s daily “Playbook.” He is a Senior Contributor for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and his work exemplifies an unparalleled perspective on culture, politics, and U.S. policy.
For these reasons and more, Daniels’ reporting represents the natural extension of sound political journalism aligning with Gwen Ifill and April Ryan. Beginning his television career in Colorado and moving to Washington D.C. as part of the politicaal reporting unit at the Newsy, a streaming news network, Daniels has brought a fesh perspective and bold style – including a set of fully polished fingernails – to stellar reporting.
With breaking news stories on President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden, and former President Donald Trump, Eugene Daniels has carved a unique voice for himself, and the communities he cares about, in the White House Press Briefing Room.
In 2024, Daniels is slated to become the first Black gay man to lead the White House Correspondents Association. He will be one of the first LGBTQIA journalists to serve in the role of president.
With an interview style centered on genuinely connecting with the subject, Scott Evans and his infectious energy has made him one of th emost prominent pop culture journalists on television.
Asco-host of NBC’s Access Hollywood, Evans has utilized heart, humor, and humility to interview some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Taylor Swift, and Kevin Hart.
Shining on every major award show’s red carpet and knowing the ins-and-outs of Hollywood’s top storylines has made Evans a daily staple on NBC’s Access Daily. He has also had guest appearances on CNN, Wendy Wiliams, and the hit series “Power” on Starz.
In late January 2023, the Television Academy named Evans as a new member of its Board of Directors. He also hosts the podcasts “So Close,” which offers intimate conversations with educators, authors, and experts about their defining moments.
Scott Evans appears on this list as a stellar interviewer that makes lived experience the centerpiece of his connection.
Jarrett Hill & Tre’vell Anderson
Hosts of FANTI Podcast
If love and rage were on a collision course, it would probably be Maximum Fun’s FANTI.
Hosted by Tre’vell Anderson and Jarrett Hill, the weekly podcast brings the nuance of pop culture and politics to listeners throughout the country and world. Exposing audiences to new viewpoints, deep knowledge, and menaingful perspectives on Congress, as well as exposing the Real House(wives) to the latest news from Hollywood, these two hosts exemplify the diversity and well-roundedness of the Black queer and non-binary voice.
Sitting behind the mic is just a small part of Anderson’s contribution to America’s media landscape. A native of Charleston, SC, Anderson also hsots Crooked Media’s “What A Day Podcast” and is the founder and Chief Imagination Officer of Slayzhon, Inc. – a social curation and media production house focused on creating space and inspiring new possibilities.
As the former Editor-At-Large for Xtra Magazine and Director of Culture and Entertainment at Out Magazine, Anderson has dedicated their voice and journalism to expanding cultural reporting to include the magic that is Black and queer.
With two GLAAD Media Award nominations on their resume and a laundry list of other honors, Tre’vell is about paying it forward to the next generation. They currently serve as a NABJ Board Member and the co-chair of their LGBTQ Task Force. Tre’vell’s voice and leadership is only matched by that of their co-host, Jarrett Hill.
Jarrett Hill came to national notoriety for exposing former first lady Melania Trump’s 2016 plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC Convention Speech. Since then, his work has been featured on NBC News, CNN International, Variety, and the New York Times. In 2020, Jarrett led the election coverage for Audacy’s Channel Q – an audio platform geared toward the LGBTQIA community. Hill also serves as president of NABJ Los Angeles.
These two voices bring to this list their willingness to create space and embrace the subtlety that exists in intersectional existences.
A newcomer to the Foreign Correspondent scene, Meagan Fitzgerald is blazing her own path as one of NBC’s London-based correspondents.
Fitzgerald’s path across the pond started at the “Mecca” Howard University and with humble beginnings at KTVE/KARD-TV in Monroe, LA. Seeking an anchor chair, Fitzgerald took her skills and bravery to KUSA in Denver, CO. After a couple of years in the “mile high city,” Fitzgeralid’s skills, calming confidence and conviction in how she delivered the news, made her leap to Washington D.C.’s morning news a natural fit.
In 2020, Meagan joined the NBC News team as a Chicago-based correspondent. Her boldness and willingness to humanize her subjects gave her the cutting edge in covering Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd murder trial, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Oxford, MI school shooting.
Fitzgerald’s bold journalism, willingness to live her life proud and out loud, and her keen role in America’s understanding of foreign relations make her stories compelling and necessary. In 2019, Fitzgerald kicked off Pride Month by announcing on air that she was engaged to a woman she later married. Fizgerald said, “it takes courage to be your true, authentic self.”
After the release of Beyonce’s long-awaited and highly anticipated seventh studio album, Renaissance, the world and specifically members of the B-hive waited to hear a review from Kid Fury, first-in-class vlogger, comedian, and podcast host who’s one of Beyonce’s biggest fans.
Born and raised in Miami, FL, Fury (Gregory A. Smith) started in media with the hope of being rapper Trina. He soon learned that he was actually better suited for a life in comedy.
In 2006, he created a pop culture blog named “The Fury”. In 2010, he brought his talents to YouTube via his blog “Furious Thoughts.” By July 2013, the openly gay Fury had created a cult following among a large and diverse audience.
In 2011, he launched “The Read,” with his friend Crissle West. As of January 2019, “The Read” averaged 400,000 listeners per episode.
Always thinking about how to take it to the next level, Fury became a staff writer on the HBO Max series “Rap Shit.” He’s currently working with HBO on a project about the lived experiences of Black gay men; “I want peole to understand that being Black and gay is so different than just being gay,” Fury told Huffpo.
“Black women get overlooked in the fight for women all of the time, so there’s I think a similar thing that happens in the gay community with Black gay [men],” he said.
Fury is included on this list because his voice in pop culture is not just talking about the storylines, he is actively making them.
Bleu Magazine/The Black Owned Media Equity and Sustainability Institute
Besides being one of Harlem’s most recognized personalities, DeVon C. Johnson has been working in media, pop culture, and music for years.
As the founder and publisher of Bleu Magazine and Bleu Life Media – a publication and digital platform that celebrates Black male entrepreneurs, creatives, and professionals – Johnson has dedicated his professional life to countering Black male stigma by creating positive imagery and providing content about style, grooming, and current events.
The cover of Bleu Magazine‘s first issue in 2006 featured actor Nic Ashe, filmmaker Lee Daniels, and the late Nipsey Hussle.
In 2016, Johnson added Bombshell, an online publication for Black women, to his online media empire. He created that platform to uplift and celebrate Black women as the smart, creative, and bold entrepreneurs that they are.
2020 hit Johnson and the Black media industry hard. With the goal of recovery in mind, Johnson, who identifies as queer, co-founded the Black Owned Media Equity and Sustainability Institute to unite and advance Black-owned media businesses.
“This is the time to lean into Black-owned media,” Johnson told Black Enterprise. “Black media exists not just to showcase pretty photos and trendy outfits. We are literally the gatekeepers of the culture.”
There would not be a Black History Month without Black-owned media chronicling Black America’s story. DeVon Johnson is fighting to keep that legacy alive.
Eric Jones Jr.
ABC’s Good Morning America
The over 3.2 million viewers of Good Morning America may have never met Eric Jones Jr., but they’ve still seen his journalistic artistry and have been impacted by his exceptional and award-winning storytelling.
As the Senior Producer and leader of Good Morning America‘s newly developed Race and Culture Unit, Jones has been laser-focused on tracking, developing, and expanding storylines about America’s racial divide and its vibrant culture that people living in Black and queer spaces continue to catalyze.
“Young people, Black people, Hispanic people, Asian Pacific Islanders, and the LGBTQ+ communities are being impacted by real things, and our team speaks up for them,” Jones told Forbes. “We must be reflective of the America that we cover.”
For Jones, who was the former Lead Entertainment Booker for Good Morning America, uplifting Black and queer voices is a mission. As the Talent Lead for CultureCon (powered by The Creative Collective NYC), he worked with the Annual Ideas Conference for Creatives of Color to book and produce some of the most dynamic conversations of our time with industry leaders and changemakers, including Lena Waithe and actress Tracee Ellis Ross.
Eric’s work demonstrates that not all the action happens in front of the camera; Black LGBTQIA folks are leading in all aspects and endeavors of media.
Imara Jones is a journalist that has dedicated her professional career to producing content and telling stories that shift the culture of hostility towards transgender people.
“For trans people, telling our families about who we are is essential to underscoring our humanity for ourselves and the rest of society,” Jones wrote in a personal narrative published in The Guardian. “In fact, until we can be seen as human, it’s unlikely cis people will stop murdering us. So our survival depends on centering our narratives.”
Jones centers transgender people’s narratives through her cross-platform, non-profit, and narrative organization, TransLash Media. As a host of the TransLash podcast and the limited series “The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality” podcast, Jones has worked diligently to highlight the abuses and inequities that transgender people face. Her uplifting storylines stake claim to a bright and full-color future for transgender people.
As the first-ever trans winner of NABJ, Emmy, and Peabody Awards, Jones’ revolutionary storytelling has led her to chair the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on Gender Diversity. Her distinct work has appeared in The Guardian, The Nation, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR, GQ, and Time Magazine.
Imara Jones’ advocacy and storytelling firmly strengthen our community.
Jason Lee has made himself “the pulse of pop culture,” which was not an easy feat. He is a self-made entrepreneur and CEO of Hollywood Unlocked, a media empire that has shaped culture, broken news, and uplifted the stories fo celebrities that often exist outside the reach of mainstream media.
From humble beginnings in Stockton, CA, Lee has blazed a trail to culture news stardom that started with a stint on Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood and five seasons on the MTV improv show Wild N Out.
As the king of leveraging celebrity and social media influencer relationships, Lee has catapulted his media brand from a 2015 blog to a multimedia powerhouse that includes the recent launch of The Jason Lee TV Show on Revolt TV.
As the pulse and keeper of culture and the news storyliens surrounding it, Jason Lee makes out list because of his willingness to push forward even when the odds are stacked against him.
Sam Sanders, Saeed Jones, & Zach Stafford
Hosts of Vibe Check Podcast
Your favorite group chat personified, the hosts of Vibe Check work tirelessly to make sense of the latest news and culture so that you can understand it better.
As the three best gay Black friends you never had, Sam Sanders, Saeed Jones, and Zach Stafford have utilized their platform and voices to highlight storylines and change the narrative about how Black bodies are seen, perceived, and honored.
Zach Stafford, a 2022 Tony award winner and former Editor-in-Chief of The Advocate Magazine, started out as a co-host of Buzz News’ morning show, “AM to DM.” As the co-host of the LGBTQ Presidential Forum in the 2020 Democratic Primary, Stafford’s use of advocacy journalism is unmatched.
Meanwhile, Saeed Jones has made Vibe Check a podcast that oozes realness and emotion. Jones, author of How We Fight For Our Lives, has used his voice and stature in culture to create space for Black men in America.
Rounding out Vibe Check‘s cast of friends is Sam Sanders, a leading voice well-versed in policy, U.S. politics, and pop culture. Sanders made his mark in audio journalism during a lengthy career at NPR. He has become an award-winning journalist and an honest voice in the fight for equitable coverage.
These hosts are setting the bar on culture to ensure that Black LGBTQIA Americans are seen in a new, positive light.