Connect with us


Is reconciliation possible for minority journalist convention?

After black journalist group quits coalition, and gay journalist group joins, accusations of homophobia may mar chances of true ‘unity.’



Unity 2012, NLGJA, Matthew Mullins, gay news, Washington Blade

The National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association contended with much controversy in its first year participating in the quadrennial minority journalist convention, UNITY. (Photo by Matthew Mullins)

Though the largest regular gathering of journalists in the nation included LGBT members for the first time, the coalition for minority journalists known as UNITY may be heading toward demise.

As first reported by the Maynard Institute, UNITY executive director Onica Makwakwa says the conference attracted 2,000 attendees this year, far below the 7,550 journalists who saw then Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama address the Chicago gathering. According to the Maynard Institute, Unity attracted 2,385 attendees. Much of that decline can be attributed to the absence of founding organization, the National Association of Black Journalists, which pulled out of the coalition after 18 years in 2011 citing disputes over the division of finances, and held its own New Orleans conference attracting 2,386 in June.

Though NLGJA was only invited to the coalition after the NABJ departure, a ‘black vs. gay’ narrative has been explored in some of the most recent coverage of the split. After NLGJA was invited into UNITY late last year, the organization successfully lobbied the coalition to change its name from UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. to solely UNITY Journalists, generating criticism from some NABJ members, including the organization’s president Gregory Lee, according to the Village Voice.

According to the Voice, NABJ has long been accused of opposing NLGJA’s membership in the coalition, which has been voted on several times by the UNITY board over the past decade and a half. However, Lee flatly denies the accusation of homophobia driving the split — citing his group’s LGBT task force, a first among minority journalist groups — and tells the Voice’s Steven Thrasher that after being forced to lay off staff, the coalition’s largest member — contributing more than half of the attendees in 2008 — was opposed to the financial split that saw NABJ receive a mere 35 percent return on profits.

However, Lee accuses NLGJA of lacking diversity in its leadership, which NLGJA leaders claim is a driving factor behind the organization’s desire to be part of the UNITY coalition. Attract black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American LGBT journalists to the organization, as well as share in the common experience of being part of an underrepresented community in the newsroom, can benefit all attendees of the quadrennial conference, according to NLGJA members.

“I know the perception among some folks of color is that NLGJA is an organization run by a bunch of white guys,” Michelle Johnson of Boston University, and a member of both NABJ and NLGJA told the New York Times. “There are white guys that are in the organization who have also faced discrimination in the newsroom.”

Ken Miguel — segment producer at ABC affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco and a National Board member of NLGJA — could not speak to the Blade officially for the Board, but said personally he was disappointed with what he perceived as a missed opportunity for the National Association of Black Journalists to meet and get to know LGBT journalists at the Unity Conference.

“If they wanted to show this was not about homophobia and race then they should have made an effort to be at [the NLGJA] events, and to get face time, and to shake hands with NLGJA journalists and let us know this is not about us,” Miguel said, saying that while Lee, and many other NABJ leaders were in attendance August 1 – 4 in Las Vegas, he felt they stayed away from LGBT-related panels and events. “I was on some panels where it was absolutely fantastic where [Native American Journalist Association] and [Asian American Journalist Association] and [National Association of Hispanic Journalists] members who were not gay were asking the right questions about what should they be covering.”

In the conference’s opening session hosted by CNN Worldwide executive vice president and managing editor, Mark Whittaker, ESPN writer and NABJ, NLGJA member LZ Granderson continued to take NABJ to task regarding its reluctance to rejoin the UNITY coalition following the name change.

“Homophobia has played a role in this tension, race has certainly played a role in this tension, money has played a role in this tension,” Granderson said. “And ALL of those things need to be talked about and hashed and on the table, not just the ones that are P.C.”

“You want to talk historically is there homophobia within [NABJ]? Yes,” KGO-TV’s Miguel told the Blade. “But do you want to say NABJ was the only group that voted that way? I know people who were members of the board then who told me, when we were discussing whether or not we should join Unity, that they were not the only ones that voted that way.”

Other longstanding members of NLGJA that attended the conference were skeptical about the need for the LGBT journalist group to continue to partner with UNITY.

“In the end, it seemed like being part of the Unity convention was more about what was good for NLGJA as an organization and less about its members,” lamented former NLGJA conference co-chair Fred Kuhr, who now edits the LGBT media trade publication, Press Pass Q, and says that the lack of programming integration between the four associations was disappointing.

The UNITY board was not the only entity to face pressures over inclusion in its name at this year’s conference. During a Thursday members meeting, several NLGJA members expressed disappointment the organization’s name excludes bisexual and trans members. Outgoing board president, David Steinberg and NLGJA executive director Michael Tune both assured the members gathered that concerns would be taken seriously and that the organization would consider evaluating the problem. This reporter was one of the members present who spoke out in favor of a name change during that discussion.

During that meeting, NLGJA members were also introduced to the organization’s new board President, Washington D.C. native, Michael Triplett, who is an assistant managing editor at Bloomberg-BNA and has served long on the board. Triplett said few words as he was recovering from laryngitis, but expressed a desire for members to come to him with ideas and concerns.

Though LGBT attendees of the conference disagreed over future participation, most agreed that the conference was an overall positive experience.

“Its no secret that I was the voice of doubt [on the Board] that this was going to work,” said Miguel. “do I think that it’s been beneficial for the organization? Yes, my eyes have been opened. I hope that the other minority journalists that did attend, their eyes were opened too, and I get a sense that that was the case.”

Both NABJ’s Lee and former NABJ President and co-founder of UNITY Will Sutton expressed hope that a reconciliation could occur between the group and UNITY, a sentiment echoed throughout the weekend by leaders from NAJA, NAHJ and AAJA, the other three founding members of the coalition. However, Lee implied that a condition of rejoining would be for members to vote on NLGJA’s continued participation in UNITY, despite the organization’s full participation this year.

“Since NABJ chose to pull out of UNITY, why is it even making a stink and making statements about UNITY now?” Kuhr — who has attended all but one NLGJA national conference since 1994 — told the Blade. “If they want to work to make UNITY better, then rejoin. If not, then stop making trouble from the sidelines. This kind of political back-and-forth is not helpful to UNITY and its other member organizations. If this squabbling can’t be tamped down, then it’s one more reason for NLGJA not to remain in UNITY.”

Phil Reese is a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association and a member of the local D.C. chapter board.


Federal Government

Federal government prepares for looming shutdown

White House warns of ‘damaging impacts across the country’



U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

However remote they were on Monday, odds of avoiding a government shutdown were narrowed by Thursday evening as House Republicans continued debate over their hyper-partisan appropriations bills that stand no chance of passage by the Upper Chamber.

As lawmakers in the Democratic controlled Senate forged ahead with a bipartisan stop-gap spending measure that House GOP leadership had vowed to reject, the federal government began bracing for operations to grind to a halt on October 1.

This would mean hundreds of thousands of workers are furloughed as more than 100 agencies from the State Department to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation roll out contingency plans maintained by the White House Office of Management and Budget. On Thursday the Office of Personnel Management sent out memos to all agencies instructing them to ready for a shutdown on Sunday.

Before 1980, operations would continue per usual in cases where Congress failed to break an impasse over spending, as lapses in funding tended to last only a few days before lawmakers brokered a deal.

Since then, the government has shut down more than a dozen times and the duration has tended to become longer and longer.

“Across the United States, local news outlets are reporting on the harmful impacts a potential government shutdown would have on American families,” the White House wrote in a release on Thursday featuring a roundup of reporting on how the public might be affected.

“With just days left before the end of the fiscal year, extreme House Republicans are playing partisan games with peoples’ lives and marching our country toward a government shutdown that would have damaging impacts across the country,” the White House said.

The nature and extent of that damage will depend on factors including how long the impasse lasts, but the Biden-Harris administration has warned of some consequences the American public is likely to face.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for example, warned: “There is no good time for a government shutdown, but this is a particularly bad time for a government shutdown, especially when it comes to transportation.”

Amid the shortage of air traffic controllers and efforts to modernize aviation technology to mitigate flight delays and cancellations, a government shutdown threatens to “make air travel even worse,” as Business Insider wrote in a headline Thursday.

Democratic lawmakers including California Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, meanwhile, have sounded the alarm in recent weeks over the consequences for the global fight against AIDS amid the looming expiration, on Oct. 1, of funding for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Continue Reading

Federal Government

QAnon follower pleads guilty to threatening member of Congress

Conspiracy movement claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world



QAnon banner at a pro-gun rally in Richmond, Va., in 2020. (YouTube screenshot from Anthony Crider)

A New Mexico man has entered a plea deal after being charged with a federal criminal complaint of making threats through interstate communications directed at a member of Congress.

Federal prosecutors charged Michael David Fox, a resident of Doña Ana County, for calling the Houston district office of an unnamed member of Congress on or about May 18, 2023, and uttering threats that included knowingly threatening to kill an active member of Congress.

The plea agreement was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Damian L. Martinez of U.S. District Court in New Mexico in the Las Cruces by Fox’s attorney from the Federal Public Defender’s Office in August.

According to the criminal complaint as outlined by a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal investigator for the Albuquerque Field Office, Las Cruces Resident Agency, on May 18 at approximately 9:04 p.m. Fox called the office of a congresswoman for the District of Texas, U.S. House of Representatives (Victim One/”V1″), who is from Houston. The call was received by V1’s office.

In the phone call Fox stated “Hey [Vl], you’re a man. It’s official. You’re literally a tranny and a pedophile, and I’m going to put a bullet in your fucking face. You mother fucking satanic cock smoking son of a whore. You understand me you fucker?” 

Law enforcement was able to trace the call back to Las Cruces, N.M., and it was believed that Fox was the user of cell phone account used to make the call. According to the FBI agents who interviewed Fox, he admitted to making the call.

Fox acknowledged that the threat was direct but claimed that he did not own any guns. Fox
claimed to be a member of the Q2 Truth Movement, the Q Movement. Fox explained these
movements believe all over the world there were transgender individuals running
governments, kingdoms and corporations. 

Fox told the FBI that there is a plan called “Q the Plan to Save the World” which he learned about from an online video. Fox claimed that he believed Q was going to engage in the “eradication” of the people who were causing all the world’s misery. He believed that part of the eradication had already happened.

Fox explained that he had run Vl’s skull features through forensic analysis and determined
that Vl was born male and is now trans. Fox discussed his military service with the
U.S. Air Force, “Q the Plan to Save the World,” and how God communicates using

Fox continued to reiterate several different types of conspiracy theories indicating
extreme far right ideologies as his explanation for why he conducted the phone call to
threaten V1.

According to the FBI, Fox rescinded his threat against Vl and apologized. Fox claimed he was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when he made the call. Fox stated he understood how Vl would feel threatened by his phone call, and he acknowledged that anyone he knew or cared about would also be concerned with such a threat.

The charge of interstate threatening communications carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

QAnon began in 2017, when a mysterious figure named “Q” started posting on the online message board 4chan, claiming to have inside access to government secrets. Since then, QAnon has grown into a conspiracy movement that claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world. It is claimed by QAnon adherents that former President Donald Trump is the only person who can defeat them. 

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based journalist Ana Valens, a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship and sex workers’ rights noted that Fox appears to be a “transvestigator.” Valens noted that the transvestigation conspiracy theory is a fringe movement within QAnon that claims the world is primarily run by trans people. Phrenological analysis is common among transvestigators, with a prominent focus on analyzing celebrities for proof that they are trans.

Continue Reading


Acclaimed gay doctor to be honored at LGBT History Month event

Pediatric cardiologist moved from Louisiana to N.Y. in protest over anti-LGBTQ bills



Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, his husband Tom, and their kids.

Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, a gay pediatric cardiologist and pediatric heart transplant specialist, is scheduled to be honored Oct. 1 by the Equality Forum at its annual LGBT History Month Kickoff and Awards Celebration in Philadelphia.

He has been named a recipient of the Equality Forum’s 28th annual International Role Model Award. 

Kleinmahon became the subject of national news media coverage in early August when he announced he was leaving the state of Louisiana with his husband and two children and ending his highly acclaimed medical practice in New Orleans after the state legislature passed bills targeting the LGBTQ community.

He had been working since 2018 as the medical director of pediatric heart transplant, heart failure, and ventricular assist device programs at Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans.

Kleinmahon told the Washington Blade his and his family’s decision to leave New Orleans was a difficult one to make. He said it came after the Republican-controlled Louisiana Legislature passed three anti-LGBTQ bills, including a so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill targeting public schools and a bill banning transition-related medical care for transgender youth.

The state’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, vetoed all three bills. But the legislature overturned his veto of the bill banning transition-related medical care for trans minors beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

Kleinmahon said he and his family moved at the end of August to Long Island, N.Y., after he accepted a new job as director of pediatric heart transplant, heart failure and ventricular assist devices at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in the town of New Hyde Park, which is located along the border of the Borough of Queens in New York City and Nassau County, Long Island.

“The decision to leave is not one that we took lightly at all,” Kleinmahon told the Blade. “And it was not one because I got a better job or other factors,” he said. “The main driver for it was that as we realized where things were going, we were raising our children in a state that was actively trying to make laws against your family,” he said in a phone interview. “And that’s not the type of environment that we want to raise our kids in.”

Kleinmahon said he and his husband Thomas timed their move to Long Island at the end of August so their daughter, who’s seven, could begin school at the start of the school year and their son, who’s four, could begin pre-kindergarten sessions.

“We have been open with our children about why we’re moving because we think it’s important that they carry on this message as well,” said Kleinmahon, who noted that his daughter expressed support for the move.

“We were at the dinner table one night and we were explaining what happened,” Kleinmahon said. “And she goes, you know daddy, we do have a choice, but there is only one good one. And she agreed with our moving to New York.”  

Kleinmahon acknowledges that some in New Orleans, which is considered an LGBTQ supportive city in general, questioned his decision to leave on grounds that the two bills that would directly impact him and his family did not become law because the governor’s veto of the two bills were upheld.

“One of the things I’ve heard is that none of these really directly affect a family because the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill didn’t go into effect, and my children are not transgender, and I don’t work in a transgender clinic,” he told the Blade.

“But that’s really not the point,” he continued. “The way we think about it as a family, the people who are elected officials that are supposed to take care of the people in their state are casting votes against our families,” he points out. “So, sure, while the laws may not be in effect this year, certainly there’s a push to get them passed. And why would we want to remain in a state that is trying to push forward hateful laws?”

He said he will begin his new job at Cohen Children’s Medical Center on Long Island on Nov. 1.

“They have been incredibly supportive,” Kleinmahon said. “They have actually encouraged me to be open with why we left Louisiana,” he said. “And they have a Pride resource group that’s reached out to me to lend their support,” he said, adding that the hospital and its parent company have been “exceptional in helping us make this transition.”

During his medical practice at Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans, Kleinmahon has been credited with helping to save the lives of many children suffering from heart-related ailments. He said his decision to leave behind his colleagues and patients was difficult.

“Unfortunately, it had ramifications for the kids in Louisiana, which was the hardest part for me,” he said. “And the reason for that is I was one of three pediatric heart transplant cardiologists, and I was the director of the only pediatric heart transplant program in Louisiana.”

He added, “While there are two other fantastic heart transplant cardiologists in Louisiana, the ability to keep a program running that serves an entire state needs a full army of people. And me leaving took 33 percent of that army away.”

He said he was also one of just two pediatric pulmonary hypertension providers in the state, and he just learned that the other provider had also left Louisiana recently. Pulmonary hypertension doctors provide treatment for people with the condition of high blood pressure in their lungs.

Regarding his extensive experience in treating and caring for children with heart disease, Kleinmahon, in response to a question from the Blade, said about 400 children receive heart transplants in the U.S. each year.

While heart transplants for kids are not as frequent as those for adults, he said kids needing a heart transplant and their families “deal with a tremendous amount of stress and medical appointments that really change their life,” including the need to take medication to prevent the body from rejecting a new heart for the rest of the children’s lives.

“My hope as a transplant doctor is that I can get these kids to live as normal a life as possible,” he said.

In addition to presenting its International Role Model Award to Kleinmahon, the Equality Forum was scheduled on Oct. 1 at its LGBT History Month event to present its Frank Kameny Award to Rue Landau, the first LGBTQ Philadelphia City Councilperson. It was also scheduled to present a Special Memorial Tribute to the late Lilli Vincenz, the longtime D.C.-area lesbian activist and filmmaker credited with being a pioneering LGBTQ rights activist beginning in the early 1960s.

“I am beyond humble to receive this award that is really not an award for me but is an award for my family and for families like ours and for people that are going to continue to fight discriminatory policies,” Kleinmahon said.

Blade editor Kevin Naff will present Kleinmahon with the award on Oct. 1 in Philadelphia.

“Dr. Kleinmahon and his family took a brave stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community and they deserve our gratitude,” Naff said. “I’m excited and honored to present him with the International Role Model Award.”

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade