dispatch: sxsw

How Can We Shift the Focus of Queer Media From Homophobes and Lady Gaga To Actual LGBTs?

Looking around the SXSW Interactive’s first-ever LGBT panel, “Engaging the Queer Community”, I saw a shrunken pink-haired woman wearing steel-toed platform boots and green stockings walking past a large-nosed horn rimmed kid with horse teeth and acne scars, and I realized that even though we’re all adults now, we very much remain the theater fags and lunch geeks we were in high school—conflicted and sightly scared people looking for a voice. But why then are our personal stories so often trumped by the like of homophobic senators and, bless her, Lady Gaga?

The panelists all talked about their most popular posts from the last week, Fausto Fernos from the Feast Of Fun posted a picture of Ben Stiller dressed as a Navii from the film Avatar, Bil Browning from The Bilerico Project posted an open letter to his “celebrity boyfriend” Neil Patrick Harris, and After Ellen’s editor, Trish Bendix, posted a lot of articles about The Runaways lesbian kiss. Three out of four of the panel’s bloggers agreed that celebrities are really the best way to generate interest in your blog. And I had my usual run of depressing thoughts: Why is it we, supposedly the most media savvy people in the world, regurgitate stories about straight celebrities and national politics while ignoring the artists and politicians working in own neighborhoods? (Admittedly, Queerty is often guilty of this, though we’ve increased coverage of “regular” queers.)

Is this why we can’t seem to organize any civil disobedience of any significance on a national scale?

The only one whose most popular story from last week wasn’t a celebrity piece, was Sinclair Sexsmith from Sugarbutch, who posted intimate details of her scorching lesbian sex life under a nom de plume. I took pride in the fact that butch lesbian put her personal experience and voice above the pop-culture bubble gum; though still I wondered, how can we get more LGBT folks to do the same? To get answers, I spoke with each of the panelists after the session and posted videos our discussion. They all agree that if you want to see your stories and community on the web, it starts with you.