Kerry Eleveld’s Final Column for The Advocate

The Advocate has published the final column by NLGJA member Kerry Eleveld, their former Washington, DC, correspondent. She is now editor of

Here’s an excerpt:

As a mainstream reporter who began working a gay beat five years ago, I have struggled with whether to say the movement or our movement, should I write they or we — was I covering this cause or was I part of it? I had always considered myself a journalist, but over the course of reporting many stories, I undoubtedly became an activist. In my book, journalists have always been activists who advocate for truth and fairness, but in this case, my measure of truth and fairness was rooted in the fact that I was reporting for a constituency in search of justice. This measure did not obligate me to give equal time in my stories to antigay forces; it only called me to use every tool at my disposal to give readers my best estimation of what I thought was really happening.

When I went back home for the holidays in 2009 and reassessed the year, I was struck by how very little progress had been made on LGBT issues by this president and the 111th Congress despite all the advantages they had and the promises they made. With the midterms already looming, it seemed as though I was watching the opportunity of lifetime — one that those before me had literally given their lives for — being squandered. At that point, I decided that I would no longer attempt to walk a line of objectivity in my weekly columns, that it was incumbent upon me to say exactly what I believed to be true given my unique vantage point to the inner workings of Washington. I didn’t want to walk away from this job wondering what if I had been more candid, what if I had let more people know what I was seeing and how I interpreted that input.

Kerry, good luck in your new endeavors!


2 Responses

  1. I also understand this struggle, from the academic side. I study workplace law and policy affecting transgender workers, and I am a transgender worker too. Am I a neutral observer, untouched by my personal standpoint, or can my point of view contribute to my audience’s understanding of my subject of study? Can I be an academic and an advocate? Or is that “going native,” as the anthropologists call it. My take is that, as Kerry said, there is a difference between raw advocacy and journalism that takes a personal understanding of the subject matter into account. I don’t like news outlets that insist that only one with no opinion on the issues can report on them. Kerry has set an excellent example, and one that I hope future journalists will follow.

  2. Kerry is an inspiration. Good journalism does not preclude a passion for justice and truth.

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