Kerry Eleveld is one of those reporters you keep hearing about: Talented lesbians scoring big breaks! Sure, Rachel Maddow has her own television show after winning a contest to co-host a morning radio show, but Eleveld went from “the food and beverage business” and selling study guides door-to-door to becoming The Advocate‘s D.C. beat reporter. She’s the one pissing off Robert Gibbs when Jake Tapper and Ana Marie Cox aren’t, so that’s kind of a big deal. Especially when LGBT media is in a tailspin, and a flailing magazine found the cash for her to set up shop in the nation’s capital. The 39-year-old Michigan-to-L.A.-to-South-Carolina-to-San Francisco-to-New-York-to-D.C. transplant has a lot of smart things to say, but given her unique position inside the world of queer media, we’re going to focus in there.
With a master’s in journalism from UC Berkley (a degree that’s essentially worthless these days) Eleveld never expected to find herself the gay media. “I would be lying if I said that I have a long, strong, deep involvement with LGBT media,” she tells Metro Weekly. “That’s really not true. I’ll probably put my job in jeopardy now but I really did not read the LGBT media during the first 15 years that I was out. I just didn’t read them. And now here I am working at one. So I don’t have this long history of growing up with and really wrestling and reading and absorbing LGBT media. At times that works for my benefit and at times it’s a detriment. I don’t necessarily think it’s a good or bad thing, it just is.”
And yet: “My goal as a journalist in my position here is for me to not be necessary.”
Eleveld holds a stance on gay media many folks in the industry share: While trying to avoid being known as “advocacy journalist” (you know, pushing their gay agendas), they want this country to get to a place where the “gay beat” isn’t necessary, because there’s equality for all, and none of these nonsensical court battles and legislative sessions to cover. Says Eleveld: “I do think that within the LGBT community there’s something different about covering politics, per se, and covering culture — I could see a culture magazine continuing to be relevant for many more years. … For whatever reason I think we have many, many more people who really want a report on the culture of the LGBT community. What I’m happy about is that there are enough people tuned in to what needs to happen politically right now that it makes my position possible and, at least in the short term, sustainable.”
But — with any luck — that won’t remain forever. Reportage about the gay civil rights struggle will be relegated to text books and museums, not the cable news cycle. And yet: We aren’t quite there. The reporting on LGBT issues, particularly when done by gay people like Eleveld — and Gay City News‘ Duncan Osborne, the Associated Press’ Lisa Leff, LA Weekly‘s Patrick Range McDonald, and not to mention bloggers like Pam Spaulding, Andy Towle, Bil Browning, Michael Petrelis, and, dare we say, our own staff — remains not just important, but crucial.
Which makes us all the more sad when we learned this month that LOGO, the MTV cousin network that’s supposed to be programming for our community, pulled the plug on its half-hour weekly news broadcast.