LGBT Media in Mexico

Blogger and writer Enrique Torre Molina recently gathered a group of professionals from various media to attend a summit of sorts on the state of LGBT media in Mexico.

His assessment is a mixed bag:

Mainstream media in Mexico are increasingly including LGBT content in positive ways. Some examples are AnimalPolitico.com, Chilango magazine, CNNMexico.com, E! Latin News, M Semanal magazine, and Reforma newspaper. In 2011 a gay fashion designer and his husband were number one on Quién magazine’s (focused on soft journalism) cover story about the most attractive couples in the country. On the other hand, tabloids, and productions by mass media company Televisa (including gay-oriented TV show Guau) are often responsible for homophobic expressions and bigoted characters.

I am also concerned with the state of LGBT media as a striving industry. Every day I ask myself who is actually reading, watching, and listening to us. I worry that it’s mostly ourselves paying attention to what our colleagues are doing, and giving each other feedback. And that’s awesome if we’re in the business of addressing issues that only we care about, of patting each other’s backs and lifting each other’s egos (or, seen more meanly, bitching about each other’s work). But if we’re in the business of raising awareness on sexual diversity, of fighting discrimination against LGBT people, of sharing stories, of shifting opinions, of speaking up, of being the voices of those who are shut by the closet, or if we want our work to be a business at all we need to take an incisive look at what we do and how we are executing our work as narrators of reality.

In attendance at the meeting was Brian Pacheco of GLAAD. Molina says that he has been collaborating with them on projects, so he used Pacheco’s visit as an excuse for gathering his colleagues.

So it’s no surprise that the following was one of the meeting’s outcomes:

The most tangible conclusion we arrived at regarding how to work collectively was the possibility of setting up an observatory in Mexico with tasks similar to GLAAD’s, of running it with volunteers versus obtaining funds to make it a more sustainable project.

Molina and his colleagues are obviously going through much of the same challenges and opportunities that U.S. LGBT media are currently facing. I don’t doubt their need for an organization similar to GLAAD, but the following made me question what else they would need:

[Participants] pointed out the lack of professionalization of many mainstream media in terms of LGBT issues, but reminded us of the contrasting lack of professionalization of LGBT media in journalistic terms…

Perhaps an organization similar to NLGJA would also serve them well.

LGBT Media in Español

In 2001, I approached Troy Masters and Paul Schindler, publisher and editor-in-chief, respectively, of LGNY (Lesbian & Gay New York) with a crazy idea: Will you help me launch a bilingual Spanish/English periodical for LGBT Latinos?

After much consideration, Troy and Paul agreed. And so we gave birth to LGNY Latino. Unfortunately, LGNY Latino never found its footing. It was at that time they guided the rebirth of LGNY into Gay City News, which remains a vibrant part of LGBT media.

I was and will always be grateful to Troy and Paul for taking the leap of faith they did with LGNY Latino. I believed — and still believe — that producing content specifically for LGBT Latinos is necessary.

So I was extremely satisfied to read the recent top story in Press Pass Q (the newsletter for LGBT media professionals) on more LGBT publications providing Spanish-language content.

Spotlighted in the article are The Rainbow Times in New England and Adelante in Los Angeles, as well as She Magazine and Genre Latino in South Florida.

Also highlighted in a sidebar is Fuerte Men, an online-only publication based in Pittsburgh. (I’d like to give a shout out to another online-only outlet that was not in the article: xQsí Magazine. Thanks for including me in your article earlier this year on HIV stigma.)

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Through interviews with several editors and publishers of LGBT media outlets with Spanish language content, everyone agrees: The needs of the minority within a minority – gay Hispanics – differ from the larger, mainstream Anglo LGBT community.

¿Cómo?

“The cultural norms for the Hispanic community revolving around sexuality and gender identity are largely influenced by a deep sense of familial pride, religious beliefs, and a fear of dishonoring their family and community,” said Puerto Rico-born Gricel Martínez Ocasio, publisher of The Rainbow Times [TRT), a monthly based in Northampton, Mass.

Por ejemplo, “Coming out in the Hispanic world to your Hispanic family is a very different process,” said Martínez Ocasio. “If you are lucky, your parents will accept you fairly fast. If not, you will go through a grieving process that could even include being kicked out of your home. We have published in-depth stories, one that included a Hispanic youth who was abandoned by his family at the early age of 14.”

Other stories of particular interest to Spanish-speaking readers cover HIV/AIDS prevention and services, immigration and its connection to marriage equality, and legal issues around family creation and adoption.

Special kudos to The Rainbow Times and Genre Latino for spotlighting HIV/AIDS content. I sincerely hope that such efforts continue and expand nationwide.

HIV and LGBT Stories on Latino USA

latinousa.jpgLatino USA has been heard on public radio since 1992, anchored by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa. The weekly radio program reports on the underreported stories of Latinos.

I had the pleasure of listening to a recent Latino USA episode that included two segments I wanted to share.

Hinojosa spoke with Andres Duque, formerly of the Latino Commission on AIDS and currently Blabbeando blogger and Twitter activist extraordinaire with his English-language blog feed and also his Spanish-language Noticias LGBT feed.

They discussed LGBT rights in Latin America, exploring how hate crimes are increasing while LGBT people are increasingly being elected to public office. (Click here to listen to this segment.)

The episode also included a segment on Empoderate, a unique bilingual health center in Washington, DC, that provides HIV/AIDS services to LGBT Latino youth.

Out of the more than 30 LGBT youth centers nationwide, it is one of only a few that specifically caters to Spanish speakers. (Click here to listen to this segment.)

Kudos to Latino USA for recognizing that the stories of LGBT Latinos and Latinos with HIV are indeed among the underreported stories of Latinos nationwide.

Daniel Hernandez Is Gay

Daniel Hernandez—the 20-year-old intern in the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) who is credited with helping save her life after an assassination attempt that left six people dead and 14 people wounded—is a gay Latino.

LGBT bloggers and LGBT media seem to not only be mentioning Hernandez’s sexual orientation, but celebrating it. And I get it. From an activist perspective, it certainly helps LGBT civil rights to uphold one of our own as a national hero.

In the mainstream media, however, it seems that coverage of Hernandez’s sexual orientation is spotty at best. Many outlets haven’t mentioned it. And so we’re back to the “Is it relevant?” question.

Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon makes an excellent case for why she believes both his sexual orientation and his ethnicity matter:

So why should the sexual orientation of this eminently competent, compassionate person keep coming up in this tale? Why is his ethnicity, and the fact that he grew up speaking Spanish and attending dual language schools, of any consequence?  Hernandez never asked to be the face of a movement. He doesn’t represent any one group any more than Jared Lee Loughner is your typical white guy. And that’s exactly why it matters …

It’s still far too easy for a small-minded yahoo to champion discrimination based on orientation and race, and it’s just as easy for another small-minded yahoo somewhere else to believe the red states are indeed “meccas of racism and bigotry.” If any good can come out of something as unfathomably horrible as Saturday’s mass shooting, let it be that it shakes up a few preconceptions. That it shows the world that a hero can be gay or straight, can speak English or Spanish or both, and that stupid laws can exist in places full of good people.

So it may matter that people know Hernandez is a gay Latino, but do mainstream media have an obligation to report he’s a gay Latino? I was hoping someone like Rachel Maddow could help answer that question—and she did:

VIDEO, posted with vodpod

Not once did Maddow ask Hernandez about his sexual orientation. She either ran out of time or forgot to ask (both unlikely) or she didn’t think it was relevant.

Perhaps as an openly lesbian pundit interviewing an openly gay guest on a liberal-leaning TV show, Maddow assumed her audience already knew Hernandez was gay.

Perhaps she was applying the “Is it relevant?” test rigorously, which led her to conclude his sexual orientation (or his ethnicity or his hair color) did not matter when it came to her asking him to tell us the details of his heroic story.

Perhaps we’re reaching a place in journalism where asking about sexual orientation is becoming commonplace to the point that not asking the question has less to do with homophobia and more to do with a standard journalists apply to everything else.

Even if we’re not reaching that place, my sense is that homophobia is not the main reason for the seeming lack of coverage in the mainstream media that Hernandez is gay. What we have here is the outcome of plain ole journalism done mainstream style.

Blabbeando Translates the Argentina Gay Marriage Debate Via Twitter, Video

When we think about citizen journalism, we usually think of blogging.  Yesterday, I had a chance to talk to Andrés Duque (a/k/a Blabbeando) about his work translating both video and the 14-hour debate in the Argentina Senate leading up to the approval of same-sex marriage in Argentina.

Andrés Duque–known to his Twitter and blog followers as Blabbeando–knew he was probably tweeting too much about the gay marriage vote in Argentina when Twitter cut him after only about three hours of translating the debate in the Argentina Senate.

But his twitter feeds, in Spanish and English, became the go-to sources for people in both the United States and Latin America following the historic 14-hour debate and early morning vote in Buenos Aires with the Los Angeles Times and powerhouse gay blogs JoeMyGod and Towleroad taking notice.

Duque–who tweets at @Blabbeando for his English-language followers and @NoticiasLGBT in Spanish–began tweeting translations of the debate after Joe Jervis at JoeMyGod posted a link to the live debate.

“I was sitting and watching and figured, why not?” Duque told Mediaite. “I’d been writing and thinking a lot about gay marriage in Argentina and I saw that a lot of people were having trouble following the debate, so I decided to jump in.”

There were a couple of things that really struck me after talking to Duque as it relates to LGBT journalism:
– He mentioned the influence of Keith Boykin and other African American gay writers and said there just weren’t–and aren’t–enough Latino LGBT writers.
– The importance of mentors. He specifically talked about the role Rex Wockner has played in his work.
– That journalism isn’t just about writing in long-form or even blogging. Journalists have an impact when they tweet the news–as Duque has done–but also when they do things like translating videos for English-speaking audiences.