Media

If You Had to Find One Thing Wrong With Gay Media, What Would It Be?

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Who is Queerty to criticize others in gay media, when — according to our own readers — we do plenty of shit wrong ourselves? We focus too much on youth and beauty! We’re Barack Obama haters! We spell things incorrectly and our grammar is atrocious! We race-bait! (Our response: Sometimes; rightly so; often; talking about race is not race-bating.) But hey, we’re not the only ones who find faults in the gay words of the gay rags all you gays are reading!

Leave it to a former arts reporter at the Washington Blade, who was fired in a round of layoffs, to find something negative to say about the paper. Zack Rosen was bounced from his job at the Window Media newser and, together with Ben Carver and Michael Eichler, started something called TheNewGay.net, a D.C.-based fag rag taglined “For everyone over the rainbow” that’s fighting the man!

(By which we mean, the trio’s mission statement reads, “We all agree that the mainstream definition of ‘gay’ isn’t just a sexual orientation, it’s a white male culture defined by consumerism, superficiality and anti-intellectualism. We don’t fit into this narrow matrix. We don’t want to. We choose to unplug. We choose the red pill.” Ha!)

So what does this anti-mainstream-gay site’s co-founder think ails the Blade? Drum roll … its culture coverage! (Surprising, coming from a former staffer on that beat, eh?)

When it comes to actual news- national and local politics, important happenings, the gay bashings and weddings, the successes and violences that push our movement forward- The Blade is unparalleled. There is no other publication in this country that does such a thorough job of covering gay news. Writers like Lou Chibbarro and Amy Cavanaugh are among the best in the city, and these elements of the paper deserve every single journalism award they have won in the past years.

Where The Blade fails is its coverage of… drum roll… culture. Perhaps the most used word in TNG’s entire canon, culture is the thing that every queer person must come out into and either be disappointed by or seamlessly assimilated within. It’s the collection of arts, music and movies, clubs and bars, and influential community figures that define the outward elements of a person’s life. Successful media should have one of two relationships to culture: It should either act as a mirror, reflecting a given culture, or act as a sculptor, helping mold a new culture when the existing one is not satisfactory. The Blade does neither of these things.

Instead, the Washington Blade is like the light from a distant star. Filtering through 30 year-old notions of what comprises a queer person, it’s source no longer exists by the time it reaches our eyes. In any given weekend in Washington DC, a Blade reader might go to an art opening by a queer artist. They might go see a queer national band like The Blow or a local one like The Mirror Script. They might attend a book reading at Lambda Rising or go to a museum. (And this doesn’t even take into account the wealth of non-gay-specific social outlets here in the District.) Maybe if they’re broke they just sit in Meridian Hill Park and listen to the drummers. This is the way that 99% of gay people I know live their lives.

But to read The Blade, you would think that gay people were only men who moved in one single-minded hive from an expensive, champagne-serving brunch to an afternoon of shopping at Universal Gear to a night spent out at one of our four local clubs the paper seems to give any attention to. Who lives like this any more?

[…] Can you imagine if The Forward, an esteemed Jewish newspaper, only reported on money-lending and rhinoplasty? If Sassy magazine had contented itself to only cover makeup tips and the country’s hottest secretarial academies?

Wait. Not every gay media consumer is a materialistic, top-shelf-only-cocktail-swigging, club-hopping, abs-obsessed sun-kissed adonis? This is, quite frankly, the last thing advertisers want to hear! Make it stop, make it stop.

Meanwhile, for a web magazine so intent on breaking the stereotypes of gays, check out this lede stereotyping straights: “One of the things I’ve noticed about straight people is that they’re usually pretty oblivious to the fact that there are different types of lesbians.”

Mission statement accomplished!

In the meantime, check out the Blade‘s excellent update on the status of equality legislation, something even Rosen concedes the newspaper admirably covers well.