Update: 11:03 a.m., Thursday, February 11: GLAAD has issued the following statement regarding the omission of the “Outstanding Blog” category:
“It’s become abundantly clear that we were wrong to remove the Outstanding Blog category, and we apologize. Although we cannot make changes to this year’s slate of categories and nominees, the Outstanding Blog category will be reinstated in 2017 with improved selection criteria that ensures grassroots LGBT voices are given the recognition they’re due. And like in years past, there will be no submission fee required in the category.
“The contributions of LGBT bloggers and independent media have been critical to the advancement of this movement and, indeed, GLAAD’s mission. Eliminating the Outstanding Blog category was an affront to the tireless efforts of those whose work has been essential to putting a spotlight on the issues LGBT people face, and which too often goes overlooked. Removing the category was wrong, and we are committed to doing better.”
The 27th annual GLAAD Media Awards will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2016 in Los Angeles and Saturday, May 14 in New York, but one large group of individual voices will be missing. GLAAD has purposefully omitted the “Outstanding Blog” category for the first time in five years (remaining nominees have already been announced).
Arguably, independent LGBT bloggers have utilized the category of “Outstanding Blog” in an effort to find recognition for their often tireless and underrepresented work. One large issue bloggers have shared is the lack of inclusion from the GLAAD brand – a mainstream powerhouse founded on the heels of the LGBT grassroots movement. They claim the organization has forgotten their roots.
So, why all the fuss? The removal of the “Outstanding Blog” category will now pit LGBT blogs against mainstream media. Will Kohler’s Back2Stonewall will now be forced to compete with the New York Times. Mark S. King’s My Fabulous Disease will have to square off with the Washington Post. Some might say it’s “no big deal,” but if you asked Will or Mark, they would no doubt disagree.
Then there’s the issue of online news sources that do not specifically fall into a blog category, but also do not have the luxury of deep pockets like Here Media‘s Advocate, OUT, Gay.com, SheWired, or Pride publications. Case in point: this online newspaper right here. The Seattle Lesbian is independently owned and operated daily by yours truly. We have a small support staff working to ensure content quality and quantity. The Seattle Lesbian is run exclusively on advertising partners and events held throughout the year. Since we are not classified as a blog, we have never been able to enter into the race as an “Outstanding Blog” submission. Where is the category for independent LGBT media? Surely we aren’t going to enter into the race against MSNBC and CNN. Not only would we have to pay to even be considered, we’d never win! Perhaps another open letter should follow this one.
In the meantime, here is the open letter (below).
An Open Letter to GLAAD Regarding the 2016 Media Awards
We, the undersigned, respectfully but strongly disagree with your decision to remove the category of ‘Outstanding Blog’ from the GLAAD Awards and with your rationalization behind this decision.
LGBT blogs and independent media play a crucial role in relaying information, providing new and diverse voices, and bringing attention to LGBT issues that have been overlooked and omitted by the mainstream media. Bloggers are the last truly independent voices of lived LGBT experience, and those who undertake this task typically do so without pay or recognition. They don’t grace the cover of magazines. They don’t get book deals. They don’t win Oscars. What they accomplish through their sacrifice of time and energy is the proper dissemination of information which serves to make our community stronger and better educated.
The ‘Outstanding Blog’ award bestowed by GLAAD was one of the few ways LGBT bloggers has been given their due. The idea that these voices will now have to compete with larger and more powerful news entities such as The New York Times, MSNBC and Buzzfeed is unfair and, frankly, humiliating. The elimination of the ‘Outstanding Blog’ category implies that unless one is a celebrity or affiliated with a publication with a high profile and finances to match, you are held without regard in the LGBT media landscape, or at least as GLAAD sees it.
It is sadly ironic that GLAAD, an organization which prides itself on lifting up positive LGBT portrayals, has rendered grassroots LGBT voices invisible and unworthy of recognition. While an initial statement from GLAAD explained that bloggers are still welcome to compete with national outlets in other journalism categories, a simple fact speaks for itself: among the 2016 award nominees, there is not a single blog (or community-based LGBT outlet, for that matter) to be found anywhere on the list. The crucial voice of first-person LGBT voices has simply disappeared from the GLAAD Awards. This is a troubling message to send to the general public, to up-and-coming LGBT writers, and to the LGBT community itself.
In the spirit of a community in which every voice is an asset in our march to full equality, we ask that the ‘Outstanding Blog’ category be fully reinstated immediately. Please conduct a nomination process at once so that this critical error might be rectified before your 2016 awards dinner. Also, announcing the winner of this category from the stage, unlike in year’s past, would also be a nice touch.”
CEO of Retrograde Communications & Editor in Chief of Plus Magazine
Founder of The Bilerico Project
2011, 2012 GLAAD Award Nominee
Managing Editor, TheBody.com
LGBT Editor, ThinkProgress.org
Michael in Norfolk – Coming Out in Mid-Life
Columnist, South Florida Gay News
Mark S. King
2015 GLAAD Award Nominee
Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters
2014, 2015 GLAAD Award Nominee
HuffPost Queer Voices
2012 GLAAD Media Award Winner
Sirius XM PROGRESS
Pam’s House Blend
Editor, OUT FRONT Magazine
Editor in Chief, Unicorn Booty
Ashton P. Woods
Strength in Numbers
Founder/Publisher, The Seattle Lesbian
HuffPost Queer Voices
Box Turtle Bulletin
2012, 2015 GLAAD Award Nominee
Founding Editor, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents