October 20, 2019 at 7:37 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Praise for Blade coverage of the Americas
Zuleika, a transgender woman from El Salvador’s San Vicente Department, is among the LGBTI migrants who live at a shelter in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, that Respetttrans Chihuahua, a local advocacy group, runs. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Washington Blade in recent years has significantly expanded its coverage of LGBTI issues outside the mainland U.S.

The Blade since 2012 has reported from Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, Israel, the West Bank and the U.N.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz; former Costa Rican Vice President Ana Helena Chacón; Colombian Sen. Angélica Lozano and Randy Boissonnault, who is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s adviser on LGBTI issues, are among the myriad officials whom the Blade has interviewed over the last decade. The Blade also has correspondents and contributors who are based in Miami, Cuba, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Botswana and Bosnia and Herzegovina and regularly hosts LGBTI activists from around the world at its D.C. offices.

The Blade in May made national headlines when the Cuban government prohibited this reporter from entering the country.

“For me, the Blade sums up some of the best of LGBT+ reporting in the Americas,” said Hugo Greenhalgh, editor of Openly, an LGBTI news website managed by the Thompson Reuters Foundation. “The strength of its on-the-ground reporting shows in the quality of the articles it sources not just in the United States, but in the vital stories it uncovers across Central America in particular.”

“We at Openly are proud to share the same mission in covering crucial LGBT+ stories, which is why we focus on global issues affecting the wider LGBT+ community around the world, at a time when this coverage has never been more needed,” he added.

Elias Jahshan was the editor of the Star Observer, an LGBTI newspaper in Australia, from 2013-2016. Jahshan, who now lives in London, said the Blade over the last 50 years “has been instrumental in highlighting news and people from the LGBT community — not just in Washington, D.C., not just in the U.S., but also worldwide.”

“Their coverage of politics from Capitol Hill or the White House in the context of the LGBT community is second-to-none,” said Jahshan. “I particularly admire how they pursue journalism in its truest form: Objective, with a unique nose for news and interviews and most importantly, speaking truth to power.”

Jahshan also noted this year is the Star Observer’s 40th anniversary.

“This embodiment of journalism is becoming increasingly rare in queer media,” said Jahshan. “It’s something we should never take for granted.”

Activists around the world are also celebrating the Blade’s 50th anniversary.

Maria Sjödin, deputy executive director of OutRight Action International, a New York-based global LGBTI advocacy group, said the Blade “has been around as long as the modern LGBTIQ movement, and the creation of an LGBTIQ specific media outlet which reflected and highlighted LGBTIQ issues undoubtedly gave the movement an immeasurable boost.”

“Beyond the LGBTIQ community, by elevating the voices of LGBTIQ people at a time when those voices were concealed, sharing stories of LGBTIQ people’s lives, and reporting on policy and legislation developments in an LGBTIQ-inclusive way, the Washington Blade played a significant role in demystifying who LGBTIQ people are and changing the narratives used to describe us, which, in turn, was crucial to the gains in international and national level recognition and protection of LGBTIQ people,” added Sjödin.

Sjödin also noted the “LGBTIQ movement is a global one” and the Blade’s “coverage of international issues contributes to a deeper understanding of the diversity, challenges and opportunities LGBTIQ people face around the world both within and beyond the LGBTIQ community, ensuring that we are better equipped to keep fighting for LGBTIQ equality globally.” Maria Fontenelle of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, an LGBTI advocacy group that works throughout the eastern Caribbean, agreed with Sjödin.

“The Washington Blade has amplified the issues, the advocacy, the activists in smaller Anglo-Caribbean countries, exposing our work to audiences that we may otherwise have not reached,” said Fontenelle. “It has therefore contributed to advancing the conversation on full recognition of the rights of LGBTQI people in the region.”

Fontenelle said the Blade’s “deliberate inclusion of activism in the region … is reflective of a deeper concern that moves beyond the numbers game to capturing as many LGBTQI voices as possible and truly being diverse. Because of its wide readership, the Blade has also created opportunities to expand our network and collaborate with (activists in) the Caribbean, Latin America and North America.”

“Wishing you many more years of success, even within a discrimination-free society towards which we all continue to work,” said Fontenelle.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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