Day 2 Lightning Talks: Shepherding a national collaborative of the leading local queer news publishers while the communities they support are being attacked
4:02PM Jun 20, 2023
All right, so finally, this is our last lightning talk of the summit. I can't believe it like to welcome Dana Piccoli to the stage and she is going to talk about the news is out collaborative. So Dana, welcome. Good afternoon all my name is Dana Piccoli.
My pronouns are she her, and I am the editor and project manager of news is out. A queer media collaborative housed under a local media Association. The club is made up of six leading LGBTQ plus publications, Bay Area reporter, Dallas voice, Philadelphia gay news, tag magazine, Washington blade and Windy City Times. Together we are working to advance LGBTQ equality through solutions oriented journalism in the face of continued discrimination, which is why you all brought me here to talk. But before we get into that, I want to take a step back to 1996.
This is baby gay, Dana.
Some questionable fashion choices aside. My freshman year in college, I was lucky to escape my all girls Catholic High School relatively unscathed as an out queer person. However, one day I returned from a weekend at home in college to find Dana, the dyke, scrawled in permanent marker on my dorm room door. I learned a few big lessons from that experience. The first was not everyone was going to understand or embrace me as a queer person. That night I wrote an open letter to whoever did this telling them I would not be backing down and in fact, they had only emboldened me. I taped the letter to my door which was now streaky with industrial grade solvent to melt away the slur. The second lesson I learned came as a surprise. I woke up to find that people who lived on my floor down the hall and other floors had signed their names to my letter in support. Some people I only knew in passing. It taught me the power of community and Ally ship that sent me on a course of over 20 years of activism. I'm thankful for those years because it gives me the strength to deal with this
this anti LGBTQ rhetoric has infiltrated state houses and school boards, has empty library shelves of vital representation and sent families of transgender children fleeing from states like Florida and Texas. To be completely honest, even that queer kid you saw in 1996 Never saw this level of fear and vitriol that I am seeing now. into 2023, there has been unprecedented backlash to the LGBTQ communities long fought legal battles and social gains. The amount of these bills has doubled. Since 2022, sorry, since 2020. What's a queer journalists to do? That gets to why I'm here. I was invited to speak about shepherding a queer media collaborative while the communities we support are being attacked. The thing is, I'm not the only Shepherd. I'm one of many. I am honored to run the day to day operations along with these shepherds. These are the members of News's out pioneers that I learned from every day. Some of them marched at Stonewall, fought for HIV and AIDS patients to be treated with dignity, and for life savings metod life saving medicines to be developed while the government turned their backs on the gay community. They are modern warriors in a fight that never ends. Along with these publishers, very much like those dorm mates who signed my letter 27 years ago. We are buoyed by dedicated allies or perhaps a better word be accomplices who have made our fight theirs. Together we fight we write we amplify the voices of our community at a time when we need it most. So how do we do that? We cover the news that is affecting our readers from poisonous new bills making their way through the state houses to the day to day authentic news stories of our community. You can get that commentary pieces that show the strength and vulnerability of our community leaders. The news is our publishers have written over 50 Calm Military pieces this year about everything from the history of LGBTQ community, to queer families fighting against homophobia and transphobia. 2022 was a banner year seeing more queer and trans candidates than ever before in US history elected offices around the country. People like representative Zoe Zephyr of Montana, show us how important it is to elect LGBT officials who bring their life experience and lead their communities during these callous and cruel times. Finally, queer and trans joy is vital. If all you hear in media is how painful and devastating it is to be LGBT right now, we would be failing our job as shepherds. Joy is necessary. It's why we have pride, Happy Pride. When the world wants you to be quiet, pride brings a month full of joyful celebration of self and community. As shepherds it's our duty to provide outlets for joy. As difficult as it is to wake up every morning and see a new hateful bill or white supremacist, threatening another drags story our our collaboration is a place of hope and tenacity. Together we share thoughts and ideas, frustrations and celebrations and more importantly, a shared vision for a better future for queer media. Thank you