National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association

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Logo for the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) is an American professional association dedicated to unbiased coverage of gay/lesbian issues in the media. It is based in Washington, D.C., and the membership consists primarily of journalists and students in print, broadcast, and online media.

According to the NLGJA's web site, "The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) is an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students who work within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. NLGJA opposes all forms of workplace bias and provides professional development to its members."[1]


Founded by Roy Aarons in 1990, it currently has roughly 700 members in the United States and abroad.[2]

Jen Christensen took over as NLGJA national president following the death of Michael Triplett, who died Jan. 18, 2013,[3] less than six month after his election. The rest of the Executive Committee are Sarah Blazucki, Vice President for Print and Digital; Trey Graham, Treasurer; and Ken Miguel, Secretary.[4]

Past national Presidents of NLGJA are Roy Aarons (founder), Karen-Louise Boothe, Robert Dodge, Steven Petrow, Eric Hegedus, David Steinberg[5] and Michael Triplett.

In 2006, CNN donated US$100,000 to the NLGJA.[6]

Each year, NLGJA hosts the Headlines & Headliners Benefit in New York City as a fundraiser to support its programs throughout the year. The 2012 event was hosted by Jane Velez-Mitchell of HLN and Don Lemon of CNN.


From its inception in 1990, NLJGA hosts an annual convention inviting their members to participate in top-level training sessions, thought-provoking discussions, and social & professional networking events.[7] Beginning in 2003, a one-day LGBT Media Summit was added to the event to educate and network journalists working within LGBT Media. Both events continued into 2011, with that year's National Convention & LGBT Media summit taking place in Philadelphia.[8]

The 2012 convention was the first time NLGJA participated in the joint UNITY Journalists convention, held in Las Vegas with the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

2010 marked the 20th anniversary for NLGJA. It hosted its annual convention in San Francisco.[9] In 2009 [8], NLGJA held its first international convention in Montreal, Canada.

The organization's 2008 convention, "NLGJA Goes to Washington," took place in Washington, D.C.. The 2007 convention was held in San Diego, California the first week of September and was titled "Breaking Stories, Breaking Waves." One of the keynote speakers was transsexual Los Angeles Times sports writer Christine Daniels.[10]

The 2006 convention, held in Miami Beach, Florida, attracted about 650 journalists.[11] During that event, CNN Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts discussed being openly gay during a panel while on air.

Previous conventions have been held in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and San Francisco.[12]


The group published a quarterly newsmagazine called Outlook until the mid-2000s.[13] The magazine focused on LGBT stories in the workplace and workplace issues such as domestic partner benefits, and updates readers on NLGJA's activities at the local and national levels. The magazine had a current circulation of over 3,500. As it is written by news professionals it has a high level of professional writing and is recognized as a source for commentary on LGBT workplace issues.[14]

LGBT Journalist Hall of Fame[edit]

Starting in 2005, the NLGJA has inducted noteworthy gay and lesbian journalists into a Hall of Fame (HOF) so that their legacy may be remembered for generations to come.[15] Inductions occur during the NLGJA annual conference each year along with the annual Excellence in Journalism awards.[16]

Inductees by year:
Jill Johnston: writer for the Village Voice and New York Times Book Review. She is best known for her book Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution.
Randy Wicker: the first openly gay person on East Coast television, and considered the first out PR professional.
W. Dorr Legg: pioneering gay activist and co-founder of ground-breaking gay publication, ONE, Inc.
Don Michaels: reporter in the 1970s for highly respected Washington Blade, and later its publisher.
Michelangelo Signorile: author; Sirius XM radio host; co-founding editor of influential OutWeek magazine.

Lisa Ben, pseudonym for the editor of the first lesbian publication
Hank Plante: Emmy- and Peabody-winning television anchor and reporter.
Richard Rouilard: Early NLGJA member and editor-at-large for The Advocate magazine.

Garrett Glaser: the first television journalist to come out of the closet to the radio and television news industry
Ronald Gold: A sharp writer with an uncompromising style, Gold built a career writing for a number of publications, including Variety
Deb Price: Began her column for The Detroit News inviting readers to help her come up with a less awkward way of introducing her boss to her partner

Richard Goldstein: Founder of the Village’s Voice annual Queer issue and author of several novels and essays on issues within the gay rights movement
Gail Shister: First mainstream reporter to be vocally “out” and an active member of the NLGJA

Jim Kepner: Writer for publications like ONE magazine and the PRIDE newsletter, which then became the Los Angeles Advocate
Jack Nichols: Founding editor of GAY newspaper and one-time editor of Sexology and
Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen: Known for their work with The Ladder, the Daughters of Bilitis publication; Also participated in early gay rights demonstrations during the 1960s

Marlon Riggs: Writer and director of documentary films about the gay rights movement and race relations

Leroy F. Aarons: Founder of the NLGJA who was an author, playwright, and journalist
Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin: Founders of lesbian publication The Ladder and the first same-sex couple to be married in San Francisco
Thomas Morgan III: New York Times reporter and editor who, as president of the National Association of Black Journalists, opened doors for fellow gay and lesbian journalists
Sarah Pettit: Co-creator of Out magazine and one-time Arts editor for Newsweek and OutWeek
Randy Shilts: Reporter for the Advocate and the San Francisco Chronicle and author of several books focused on the AIDS epidemic
Don Slater: Founded ONE magazine and fought for freedom of distribution of gay and lesbian publications

Excellence in Journalism Awards[edit]

Continuing a tradition started in 1993, the NLGJA Excellence in Journalism Awards are given each year to recognize journalists who have made a difference in their field. Each year the organization chooses recipients for awards in twelve categories spanning fields like local television, radio, HIV/AIDS coverage, photojournalism, and feature writing.[15] The awards are given out at the NLGJA convention each year.[17]

The Excellence in Journalism Awards were not held in 2009 but resumed in 2010.

Journalist of the Year Award recipients:
2012: Steven W. Thrasher, Village Voice [18]
2011: LZ Granderson, ESPN Magazine
2010: Randy Gener, American Theatre (magazine)
2008: Martha Irvine, Associated Press
2007: James Kirchick
2006: Jason Bellini, CBS News on Logo
2005: Meredith May, San Francisco Chronicle

Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media
2012: Chris Geidner, Metro Weekly and BuzzFeed[18]
2011: Michael Luongo, Freelance Writer
2010: Kerry Eleveld, The Advocate
2008: First Place: Laura Douglas-Brown, Southern Voice

Second Place: Lou Chibbaro, Jr., Washington Blade[19]
Third Place: Kynn Bartlett, Colorez![19]

2007: Ryan Lee, Southern Voice
2006: Malinda Lo,
2005: John Caldwell, The Advocate

Contributions to Journalism[edit]

Stylebook Supplement
The NLGJA’s most noteworthy tangible contribution to the journalism industry is the NLGJA Stylebook Supplement on LGBT Terminology, which fellow journalists can use for reference when writing about topics relating to the LGBT community. According to the organization’s website it is part of the NLGJA’s push to encourage “the association's mission of inclusive coverage of LGBT people" [20]
The Stylebook Supplement can be found on the NLGJA website in both English and, as of 2005, Spanish.

Press Service:
In connection with Witech-Combs Communications, the NLGJA launched OutNewsWire in 2008 to simplify the distribution of news articles relating to the LGBT community. The wire has more than 400 journalists receiving updates currently, which are available online. The service comes at a discounted price to “nonprofits hoping to use the service to reach the gay media" [21]

Newsroom Outreach Project[edit]

As early as 1996, the NLGJA, along with Hollywood Supports, developed “sexual orientation in the workplace” seminars that were conducted in Knight-Ridder newspapers across on the nation. The seminars were designed to place emphasis on acceptance in the workplace, through discussions of stereotypes and business and legal issues involved with homosexuality. The stated goal of these seminars was to provide an LGBT-friendly office environment for homosexual journalists, but the discussions also pushed for domestic partnership benefits at newspapers across the nation, one of the main focuses of the gay rights movement nationwide.[22] The seminars are offered free of charge to news organizations.[23]

During the seminars, facilitators introduce employees to the “model of parity” NLGJA developed in order to encourage equality and inclusiveness within the workplace. There are fourteen steps in this model, highlighting both workplace climate and fair compensation. Included in these steps are things like avoiding double standards, promoting balanced coverage, providing the same insurance coverage for all employees, and offering family and medical leave.[23]

These seminars have evolved into what NLGJA now calls its “Newsroom Outreach Project.” These meetings with journalists, according to the organization’s website, work to “further NLGJA’s mission through meetings with broadcast, print and online newsroom leaders across the country.” The subject matter of the meetings is very similar to that of their earlier seminars—mostly covering things like correct terminology and treatment in the workplace. The first official meeting took place in January 2004 and they have been going strong in cities across the nation since then.[24]

Rapid Response Task Force[edit]

In order to more directly combat biased journalism, the NLGJA formed the Rapid Response Task Force. This team of journalists addresses any news piece that readers report as being offensive or inaccurate and informs writers and readers of the correct terminology, which furthers their mission of equality and helps to “spread awareness about issues facing the LGBT community”.[25] In order to report a biased or offensive story, readers simply email the link or a description of the article to the NLGJA and the problem is evaluated.

Student Outreach[edit]

In an attempt at connecting with and encouraging future LGBT journalists, the NLGJA formed their NLGJA Student Central website. The site features content aimed at supporting young journalists in their early years with scholarship information, online networking opportunities, articles about LGBT issues in journalism, student project opportunities, NLGJA membership information, and an abundance of links to online resources.
The NLGJA offers several scholarships each year to students “committed to NLGJA’s mission of fair and accurate coverage of the LGBT community”.[26] These scholarships include the Leroy F. Aarons scholarship and the Kay Longcope scholarship,[27] each of which provides tuition money to one LGBT student a year.
There is also an internship opportunity offered to one student each year. The Leroy F. Aarons Newsroom Internship pays the student to work for ten weeks in an actual newsroom.[28]


As of 2008, the NLGJA reported that they were facing hard economic times along with the rest of the journalism industry. The organization has seen decreased funding from both news companies that have supported them and convention revenue. Between 2008 and 2009, the organization lost about 200 members: not surprising given the number of people laid off in the media industry that year. Since then, membership has remained fairly consistent.


External links[edit]