By: Dawn Ennis
We’re just hours away from one of the LGBTQ community’s most special gatherings of the year: the 33rd annual GLAAD Media Awards, and five nominees are spilling the tea with actor, activist and GLAAD board member, Peppermint.
They’re all bloggers vying for top honors in the Outstanding Blog category. Four are prior winners: Alvin McEwen of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, Dana Rudolph of Mombian, Mark S. King of My Fabulous Disease and Sue Kerr of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents. New to the category is Darian Aaron, Editor-atLarge of The Reckoning.
These five out and proud bloggers are among almost 250 nominees in 30 English and Spanish language categories, said Peppermint, who has appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Pose, as well as other scripted and reality series. The out transgender Black woman is also part of ACLU’s Artist Ambassador Project and regularly appears across media outlets speaking about trans equality, including a recent ABC News interview with GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
“We owe a lot to our LGBTQ blogging community, because if they’re not telling our stories, then no one would be,” Peppermint said. “And they have the power to report on LGBTQ news, profile LGBTQ individuals and share their own expertise and insights on so many queer topics.”
Peppermint kicked off the panel discussion by explaining what these awards are really all about: Recognizing leaders in the movement for LGBTQ acceptance. “The GLAAD Media Awards honor outstanding images of LGBTQ people and issues across media. They raise the bar for what it means to tell an LGBTQ story or include an LGBTQ character,” she said.
On the minds of many these days is two-time winner, Texas trailblazer Monica Roberts of TransGriot, who would have turned 60 this week and worked tirelessly for transgender inclusion, rights and equality.
“I also want to pay homage so humbly to Monica Roberts, the incredible black trans icon,” said Peppermint.
One of our nominees, Sue Kerr of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents has been reporting on the epidemic of deadly violence against the trans comunity, in partiuclar trans women of color, since 2013. She credits Monica’s trailblazing efforts as one of her motivations to continue after nearly a decade of creating this content.
“There was no coverage of her story. And it was shocking to me. The LGBTQ media really didn’t pick it up. I went around to autistic groups. I went to a mental health group, an AAPI group, and I kept asking them to write about it,” Kerr said. “She was a kid. And it turned out that most of her contacts didn’t know that she passed. It was because I contacted them.” Kerr, who pitched the idea for this panel discussion to GLAAD, said she was grateful that the community responded positively to her work with a candlelight vigil, and, in turn a Georgia TV station and MSNBC told Kathryn Newhouse’s story.
“That’s what we’re all here for is because we want to amplify to even bigger outlets and tell them what’s true. These are stories that need to be told,” said Kerr. “We not only document our stories, but that we find ways to preserve them for future generations so that they can understand this period in time through the eyes of so many different people.”
Darian Aaron shared a story that he was especially proud of for The Reckoning, about Atlanta’s Silver Lining Project, which is comprised of Black gay men over 50 living with HIV.
“It was really important for me to amplify the stories of these men, because it’s really important that black, queer youth know the shoulders on which they stand, because so often they’re not aware of our history and the people who came before us, our ancestors, who literally paved the way,” said Aaron. “I was able to amplify these men’s lived experiences in a way that for the first time, for a lot of them, they felt seen.”
Blogging about the impact of HIV and AIDS is Mark S. King’s beat. “My blog focuses on the people that inspire me and the stories that we have to tell one another,” he told Peppermint. “Because as horrible as AIDS has been through the last 40 years, it has shown what we are really made of all of us. AIDS is about everything. It is about racism, homophobia, sexuality, religion, almost everything that you can imagine that’s a touchy subject. It’s touched on by HIV. And that’s what keeps it fascinating for me and why I’m still here.”
Mombian, said Dana Rudoph, too often gets “lumped-in” with blogs about parenting. “It is a lifestyle site for lesbian moms and other LGBTQ parents with a variety of politics, parenting, diversions and resources for all of the many aspects of our lives,” she said, noting Mombian is not a diary. “Our family is pretty boring on the scale of things, and I would rather use the blog to elevate other people’s stories, share resources, do book reviews of inclusive children’s books, things like that. And so that’s what I’ve been doing with my blog for almost 17 years now.”
Alvin McEwen of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters works to counter the so-called “pro-family” groups hellbent on spreading hate and bigotry.
“My blog works to refute all of the information they put out,” he said. “They are always talking about protecting women, protecting children, protecting marriage, protecting women’s sports. It’s like every time they talk about protecting something, we’re the ones who need the bodyguards. And so what my blog does is bring attention to that, because, let’s face it, the mainstream media is not doing that.”