In accepting the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association’s Journalist of the Year Award on Saturday night, with video care of Windy City Times, here’s a bit of what I said:
Thank you so much to NLGJA for recognizing my work, for recognizing the stories that I’ve had the privilege to tell over the past year, and, really, letting me join this community over the past five years. There are so many people in this room who have been covering these issues for decades … and I really came about at the perfect time to do what it is that I have the ability to do. And I am so grateful every day that that timing came together. And I think that all of us who are here today need to really stop and recognize the privileged time that we get to be doing this work. We are in a time that nobody reporting on these sorts of issues was ever in before. There are two main reasons.
Obviously, the LGBT community has had more successes at advancing equal rights than ever before in history. There have been incredible advances that have made it easier to do our jobs. We had Jason Collins earlier today talking about the importance of authenticity. When we’re able to be ourselves as journalists, we’re able to do a better job. … There are still difficulties. There are still areas of the country, of the world, where it is very difficult to be out — as a gay journalist, as a lesbian journalist, as a bisexual journalist, and certainly as a trans journalist. And those are things that we need to keep working on.
We’re also really lucky that we get to do these jobs now. We have so much more out there to tell stories. We have so many more media forms to be able to tell stories. … That also has major difficulties — and difficulties that the journalism industry is facing. But, the more that we look at those as opportunities to tell better stories, the more we’re going to be able to do. I am at my best as a journalist when I am telling someone else’s story, when I am able to get a story out there that people aren’t going to hear otherwise. That’s something that’s easier to do now than ever before, and I think if you just watched over the past two weeks, watched what happened in Ferguson, you can see.
The final part is that, there’s also the fact that I am a white man, and I do have that added advantage of being able to get out and tell stories more easily. If you look at the people who have succeeded in this new environment, so many of them have still been white men. And even within the LGBT world, so many have been gay, white men. … We have work to do. The thing that I’m really grateful to the fact that I’m at BuzzFeed is that there has been intentionality. It takes intentionality in order to get any diverse newsroom that’s going to reflect the stories that still need to be told. If you do not do it intentionally, it’s not going to happen. It does take work, it does take time, it does take energy, and you’re going to fuck up. But you need to try. You need to try.
I am so grateful every day to get to do the work that I do. … I am so grateful to accept this award, and so thankful to NLGJA for all that you do to help us tell our stories. Thank you very much.