The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015 and the 10th year of their LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees are: Randy Alfred, Alison Bechdel, Alan Bell, Lou Chibbaro, Jr., Charles Kaiser, and Armistead Maupin.
Leroy Aarons founded NLGJA in 1990 – and inspired us all by pioneering a watershed change in journalism and newsrooms throughout the nation. After his death, the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame was launched in 2005 to honor remarkable individuals like Aarons and to tell their stories.
The LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame endures and over the past decade has honored 28 men and women. These are individuals, living and deceased, who have left a lasting mark on the profession – through their own courage, by blazing trails and by their dedication to telling the truth about themselves and in their work. In 2015, we honor six new Hall of Fame Inductees:
Randy Alfred may be best known for his detailed 1980 probe of the biased and unfair portrayal of San Francisco’s gay community in CBS Reports’ “Gay Power, Gay Politics,” an investigation that ultimately resulted in CBS making a rare public apology for its failed coverage. In 1978 he co-founded the S.F. Bay Times, the first community newspaper on the West Coast to be produced equally by lesbians and gay men. The very next year, Alfred also began producing and hosting The Gay Life on KSAN-FM –the first regularly scheduled LGBT-oriented program on commercial radio in the United States. Alfred ran the show for almost six years. For four decades, he has spoken out in newsrooms and in professional organizations for bias-free usage, bias-free news coverage, and bias-free workplaces and benefits, not only for LGBT people, but for women, minorities and disabled people. Alfred is one of the founding board members of NLGJA.
Alison Bechdel, the creator of the Bechdel Test for gender bias in works of fiction, has been writing for and about the LGBT community since 1983 when she began producing and self-syndicating Dykes to Watch Out For, a comic chronicling the lives, romances, and political involvement of a group of lesbians in the United States. She produced her popular strip for 25 years before ending its run in 2008. She also has published two graphic memoirs: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic in 2006 and Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama in 2012, both of which met critical acclaim. Among her towering achievements, Bechdel has been honored with a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012, a MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2014 and a Tony Award for the musical adaptation of Fun Home.
Alan Bell has been an indelible, vibrant presence within LGBT journalism for almost 40 years. Beginning in 1977 when he founded Gaysweek, New York City’s first mainstream lesbian and gay newspaper, and continuing with BLK and Blackfire, Bell has been a pioneer of LGBT journalism and activism, particularly on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. He continues to work with many non-profit organizations including the Minority AIDS Project, Magic Johnson Foundation, Black AIDS Institute and the health departments of Los Angeles County, Fulton County, Miami and Florida. Bell places special focus on serving the black lesbian and gay community through BLK Publishing Company, which he founded in 1988, which places a special focus on assisting community-based organizations focused on fulfilling the health, educational and social needs of inner-city communities. He is also the founder of Black Jack, a safer sex club for black gay men in Los Angeles.
A prize-winning reporter for the nation’s oldest LGBT news publication, The Washington Blade, Lou Chibbaro, Jr. first took up his pen in 1976 under the pseudonym Lou Romano. Fast forward four decades, Chibbaro has covered almost everything for the Blade, including the nation’s political triumphs and protests, the rise of the AIDS epidemic, federal efforts to find and fire gay government employees and towering gay civil rights figures like the late Dr. Frank Kameny. Along the way, Chibbaro has earned countless honors, including the NLGJA’ Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media Second Place Award in 2008 and the Rainbow History Project’s Community Pioneers Award and GLAA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010. In 2011, Chibbaro made journalism history as the first LGBT inductee into the Society of Professional Journalists’ Washington Pro Chapter Hall of Fame.
An award-winning author and journalist, as well as an NLGJA founding board member and the second president of the New York Chapter of the NLGJA, Charles Kaiser has been practicing his craft since 1971, when he began writing for The New York Times while still an undergraduate at Columbia College. After eight years at the Times, he also wrote for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, as well as publishing three books, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning The Gay Metropolis, which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His latest book, The Cost of Courage, published this summer, is the heroic true story of the three youngest children of a family who worked together in the French Resistance – a family whom Kaiser has known and admired for five decades. He has taught journalism at Columbia and Princeton universities, and at the latter was a Ferris Professor of Journalism.
Armistead Maupin is the treasured author of nine best-selling novels, including six Tales of the City which were originally collected from the daily serials he wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle beginning in 1976. A young man of the South and a Vietnam veteran, Maupin began his journalism career writing for The Daily Tar Heel, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s student newspaper. He later found himself working under future U.S. Senator Jesse Helms at WRAL-TV, whose anti-homosexual rhetoric inspired Maupin to leave North Carolina to pursue his ambitions with the Associated Press’ San Francisco Bureau. With his successful new roots in California, Maupin began to write his popular Tales of the City. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were captured from the first three Tales novels, and The Night Listener became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.
Founded in 1990, NLGJA is the leading professional organization for LGBT journalists with 18 chapters nationwide, as well as members around the globe. The 2015 Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at the Awards Ceremony on September 5 at the Coming Home National Convention & LGBT Media Summit and 25th Anniversary Celebration in San Francisco.