Rebecca Juro

LGBT Media Matters...Or Not

Filed By Rebecca Juro | February 15, 2008 9:38 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Media, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gender, LGBT, media, queer, radio, television, transgender

Back when I first came out transsexual and began getting involved and familiar with community-relevant media in the mid-90’s, there really wasn’t a heck of a lot of out there for transgender and gender-variant people. With the exception of the few offerings specifically intended for transfolks, virtually all of it was directed exclusively toward the interests of gay men and lesbians. In those days, it was a pleasant surprise to find something that actively and directly spoke to the gender-variant segments of our community.

As frustrating as that was, though, it was particularly infuriating when there was a news story which would have gotten plenty of community media coverage if it concerned gays and lesbians but because it was chiefly of concern to the gender-variant it would instead be all but completely ignored everywhere except in transgender-specific discussion forums.

One such story was GenderPAC’s repudiation of its founding mission to represent the interests of Transgender-Americans to instead focus on the much broader issue of gender rights and freedom in general. The move instigated a firestorm of protest and resistance from transgender activists, especially those who had actively supported and participated in the founding of GenderPAC and then had found themselves ostracized from the organization’s agenda and leadership.

Despite the loud public outcry from the transgender community over this move, the vast majority of so-called “LGBT media” (for by then the acronym had come into common usage as a PC nod to inclusiveness even though the actual content still remained focused on those first two letters) simply ignored it. There was plenty being written and said on the topic, but virtually all of it was coming from within the trans community itself. After several months of community media silence on what was probably the single most significant transgender-relevant story of the time, some of us decided to start calling out these media publicly.

At the time, I was a loyal listener of the first commercial LGBT Internet radio station, GAYBC, and decided to take on the issue there first. Even though GAYBC had been somewhat better than most, taking on trans-relevant topics and issues now and again as an occasional show feature, for the most part they’d basically ignored this story, along with most other stories and topics of interest to the transgender community, right along with the rest of the “LGBT” media. I started calling into GAYBC shows, bringing up the topic, and emailing the hosts. Eventually, John McMullen, President of GAYBC and host of the station’s flagship talk show, agreed to set up and host a panel discussion on the topic.

While it was certainly a step forward to get this issue aired out publicly on a media outlet as mainstream as GAYBC, it ultimately proved to be little more than a shot in the dark. The rest of the “LGBT” media didn’t pick up the story to any real degree, and this continued to be the case for years afterward, even though GenderPAC’s mission redefinition continued to be a topic of intensive debate and discussion within the trans community itself. Then, in 2001, a friend and I decided we’d had enough and we decided to do something about it ourselves.

Marti Abernathey and I had become friends through GAYBC and we were both frustrated about the lack of coverage of transgender-relevant issues in mainstream “LGBT” media. We both listened to and enjoyed GenderTalk, a Boston-based broadcast radio show focusing on transgender and gender-relevant topics and issues hosted by Nancy Nangeroni which was archived online, but when I emailed Nangeroni to ask her to cover the GenderPAC story on GenderTalk she declined. One day, while discussing the issue in the GAYBC chatroom, Marti and I came up with the idea to create and host our own Internet radio show to directly take on the issues critical to our community which even GenderTalk refused to cover.

We knew we didn’t have an easy task ahead of us. It took us the better part of a year to put together the technical backend to make it happen, and once we had that working, we set about creating our show. Taking from what we’d heard on GenderTalk and GAYBC and adding liberal helpings of our own ideas and opinions, we debuted our show, which we dubbed “Trans-Sister Radio”, in April of 2002.

Our sound quality was terrible and we had technical issues by the truckload, but somehow we got it on the air and did some pretty damn great community radio during our all-too-short four-month run. Finally, the finances caught up with us and we had to take the show off the air, but we’d made our dent, creating and hosting the very first Internet-based transgender-relevant radio talk show ever.

After TSR was off the air, Marti and I both did stints co-hosting with Ethan St Pierre and took our opinions to the blogs. Marti eventually went on to found Transadvocate.com while I teamed up with Producer Mike Scott to create and host “The Rebecca Juro Show”. Last year, both Marti and I joined the editorial staff of the Bilerico Project, helping to bring a level of transgender inclusion to the site that’s still virtually unequaled in LGBT community media.

Ironically, the penetration of LGBT-relevant content in commercial radio has sadly remained nearly non-existent over the years, with only the marginally inclusive pay-to-listen Sirius OutQ making discussion of LGBT topics available to radio listeners on a daily basis, as Hollywood and even commercial television have shot past radio at lightning speed in presenting LGBT-relevant and inclusive content, giving us television shows like “Will and Grace”, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, and “Dirty Sexy Money” (featuring the very first regularly-appearing transgender character on television played by an actual transgender actor), and groundbreaking movies like “Brokeback Mountain” and “Transamerica”.

The real action in LGBT talk and opinion media, however, our community’s truly cutting-edge thinkers and opinion-makers, just can’t be reliably found in commercial community radio or television anymore, if they were ever really actually there to begin with. With the advent of the blogs, Internet radio, and podcasting, the true home of community-relevant opinion, commentary, and provocative discussions of interest to today’s LGBT community has moved almost entirely to the Internet. It’s not an exaggeration to say that there are now hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of different perspectives from all walks of LGBT life available online, and that explosion of perspective and diversity has now completely overwhelmed the tiny number of narrowly-focused “LGBT”-relevant offerings in this genre found on satellite radio and elsewhere in commercial media.

Now, people like me, Marti, and so many others are able to have ourselves and our opinions heard regularly on Internet radio, podcasts, and the blogs, offering free, worldwide access to everyone with an interest. Unlike in the past when media like GAYBC, Sirius, and the gay and lesbian print media were pretty much the only game in town, Internet-based LGBT community media is now the majority by a wide margin, competing directly for listeners and readers with the relatively small handful of currently available commercial media offerings intended for LGBT people. It’s a very different, much more diverse world for us as LGBT community media consumers than it used to be.

Sadly, commercial radio still offers LGBT listeners interested in community-relevant news, politics, and opinion little more than the well-produced but only intermittently-inclusive “The Michelangelo Signorile Show” on Sirius and the completely sanitized and virtually emotionless “The Agenda with Joe Solmonese” on XM as flagship examples of what satellite radio considers entertaining and informative LGBT community-relevant opinion programming. With this being the most commercial radio is apparently prepared to offer our community, it’s hardly surprising that LGBT radio listeners are leaving these media behind in droves and turning to the Internet for the kind of community talk radio and print commentary which really pulls no punches and takes on the topics and issues they really care about in a hard hitting, take-no-prisoners style, the kind of LGBT community radio which speaks directly to them and to the issues which are really important in their lives.

The LGBT community-focused blogs are no less a part of this movement as well. Many LGBT-relevant community websites now list links to popular online community blogs and other media, as well as to articles published at these sites. Blogs covering the full diversity and breadth of topics and news important to our community, such the Bilerico Project and Pam’s House Blend, have enjoyed explosive growth during this time, often breaking stories and new developments far more quickly and efficiently than the vast majority of commercial LGBT media are able to.

With LGBT mainstream commercial radio in particular remaining relatively stagnant in availability, content, and diversity since the mid-90’s, perhaps due to the upper management of these media companies being more concerned with drawing the most lucrative listener demographics and keeping costs down rather than with producing content that’s truly relevant to their listeners, it’s no surprise that Internet radio creators, podcasters, and bloggers have kicked the community media door wide open, filling that void and going where commercial LGBT opinion media has not only not gone before, but doesn’t seem especially interested or motivated to go in the future. Where once there were just a few of us out there making content available online specifically targeted to those segments of our community commercial LGBT media has consistently failed to adequately represent and serve, there’s now a plethora of cost-free and commercial-free alternatives all over the Internet for LGBT’s who still aren’t getting what they want and need from commercial radio and television.

For me, the most exciting part is watching it all happen right before my eyes. It’s thrilling to be a part of this, to be able to witness firsthand as our community finally demands alternatives to the slick, sanitized, and homogenized radio and television shows which are so common in the commercial media marketed as LGBT community-relevant these days. Instead, those people now coming to the Internet, to us, where kid gloves really come off, where corporate profit-focused agendas don’t water-down the content and diversity, and where the primary concern is serving listeners and readers and creating great media, not getting a higher number in the next Arbitron or Nielsen ratings book than the next guy. Not that there’s anything wrong with making a profit creating community media (would that we all could), but if that profit comes at the expense of properly serving the community you’re creating that media for in the first place, then you know the price is far higher than it should be.

Mercifully for LGBT, and especially transgender, media consumers, the 90’s are over and they’ve been over for a good long time. Hopefully, one day media like LOGO and OutQ will figure that out too, and will finally come to really understand that media by rich, white, gay men focused mainly on the interests of rich, white, gay men just doesn’t cut it in this community anymore, not with the Internet around.

As has been so often the case throughout history, these commercial LGBT community media offerings will have to catch up and keep up with where the rest of us already are, or like other commercial relics of the past once thought to be industry leaders that couldn’t or wouldn’t keep pace with the demands of the modern consumer, they too will ultimately just be left behind.


Recent Entries Filed under Media:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Marti Abernathey | February 15, 2008 11:09 PM

Guess what? After Barney Frank was on OutQ, the screeners at first said they'd put me on, but when they asked me what I'd say, they quickly decided against it.

And more than anything, I think it's because they don't want to rock the boat. Kinda like why no one asked the tough questions of the Bush administration for the first 6 years of his presidency, because they would lose access. It's pitiful really.

Censorship is a fact of life.
With the exception of a radio show i listen to during the three hours Rush is on nobody except for this one show will offer up truly unscreened talk radio.

Take care
Sue

I never screened any of the callers to my own radio shows, until I was finally forced to do so.

Unfortunately, I've discovered that some people just can't be trusted or be allowed the kind of freedom to participate I was once proud to provide to anyone who chose to call in.

It's really a pity that it's become necessary, but protecting my show and the people who help me create it will always take priority over a single irresponsible listener.

Well i am sorry you had that problem.
Some people can't behave on the radio.

The unscreened radio show i was referring to they don't have any significant trouble. Occasionally a caller will use some inappropriate language, this also a three hour a day show (two hours on Sunday)
Most people can be trusted to conduct themselves on the radio in a manner that is reasonable.

Any radio show worth it's salt should be able to stand up to any enquirers it's listeners may make to the show. it's sponsors and it's content distribution service. The three hour show i mentioned has about 40 affiliates at one time they had fifty however a small group of listeners went to Clear Channel and had the show pulled from the Clear Channel affiliates. The show has a listenership nearly as big as Rush, this owed to the fact the show is broadcast on international short wave and the internet.

Good luck i hope your show keeps growing.
Take care
Sue

I'll pop out of hiding to remind you I refused an interview with you and Marti on Trans-Sisters because you both were heavy into "lets have she and her fight" and I wanted no part of it. Marti has never stopped trading in that.

Let's not also forgot that the voice of any woman of transsexual history is still silenced or shouted down when she dares speak against the trans-a-genda. It's hard for me to be have sympathy for the oppression of those who traffic in it themselves.

Cathryn,

Let's not also forget that I told you at that time that the reason I wanted you on was to talk about Wicca and Paganism and how they intersect with our community. You chose not to believe me at the time, but it was nonetheless true. Marti wasn't the one who wanted you on the show, I was.

And oh yes, let's also not forget that I welcomed and even directly invited Sue to call into the show and offer her side of the trans/HBS debate and she did so more than once. You also know that my reasons for not having her on the show anymore have nothing to do with that discussion, but with her actions off-air which I believe unreasonably threatened the show itself.

If you'd like to call in and get into the issue with me when the show is live, you are most welcome to do so, as is anyone else who has something worthwhile to say on the topic and is willing to play by the rules.

"Let's not also forgot that the voice of any woman of transsexual history is still silenced or shouted down when she dares speak against the trans-a-genda."

in all honesty i would have to agree with that based on my not being allowed to speak my peace the last time i was on Rebecca's show.

We do have to remember who is holding the pot and who gets to turn it.

Take care
Sue

You got to speak your piece, Sue. I ended your call when you stopped discussing the issue and tried to make the conversation about Marti and what she said. There's a place for that discussion, but it's not on my show. On my show, we talk issues, not personal attacks. Since you refused to let that go, I ended your call as you were no longer speaking to the issue at hand.

And one more thing: It's MY show. I get to decide the agenda, who speaks, and for how long. If you want to control the discussion, I suggest you start your own show and run it any way you want. On MY show, personal attacks are NOT allowed. End of story.

I was still discussing the issue you talked over me in the guise of you expressing a thought.

There were no personal attacks except directed toward me and people like me. those of us who live in mainstream society and don't need a crutch to lean on. You openly defended Marti's position and his transphobic comments toward transitioned women. That is your right just be honest about it next time.

And one more thing: It's MY show. I get to decide the agenda, who speaks, and for how long. If you want to control the discussion, I suggest you start your own show and run it any way you want. On MY show, personal attacks are NOT allowed. End of story.

Your right it is your show and your agenda.
So be honest about what your agenda is.
DOn't mislead people in thinking that you are open to the thoughts of others when you are not.
Your credibility as a representative of your show is on the line.

I have no issue with what you aspound to be GLBT dogma. Thankfully it doesn't run my life in the mainstream where the other 95% of the population lives. Just be honest about it.

Take care
Sue

Nonsense.

What I attacked, and continue to attack, is your argument and your position, Sue. It is not personal, I just believe you are wrong on the issue, and I say so.

I make no bones about my agenda or what I think about any issue. Anyone who tunes into my show or reads my writing knows exactly where I stand. I'm not misleading anyone, I'm quite open about it. I'm also open to the thoughts of others, including you, or you would have never been allowed on the show in the first place.

Your irresponsible behavior caused me to revoke your right to participate in the show, not anything you said on the air. It had nothing to do with the topic itself, it had to do with your unwillingness to participate responsibly and fairly. Don't try to make it about me, Sue. Take responsibility for your own actions and acknowledge that it is you, not I, who caused you to be banned from the show.

My credibility is just fine, thanks. It's your own credibility that I'd suggest you examine a little more carefully, Sue...assuming you actually have any left.

Your irresponsible behavior caused me to revoke your right to participate in the show, not anything you said on the air. It had nothing to do with the topic itself, it had to do with your unwillingness to participate responsibly and fairly. Don't try to make it about me, Sue. Take responsibility for your own actions and acknowledge that it is you, not I, who caused you to be banned from the show.
what irresponsibles behavior?

Stop being dishonest and come right out ans say what i did that was so wrong?
I am waiting to hear it.

Or are you hiding something?

I shall ask you again what did i do.

if your credibility is so good then say why exactly was i banned.
I and everyone here is waiting.

With all my respect
Sue


For those who are waiting with bated breath for that damning irresponsible behavior It doesn't exist.
it's a straw man or straw whatever...
Rebecca has no behavior.
you can go listen to the show here

where it is posted

So Rebecca i respectfully ask that you please put up or shut up.
Nobody likes to be accused of something they didn't do.

i have it on good authority your problem with Live 365 has to do with a violation of the terms of service.

SO please be honest about things and don't use me as your scape goat.
Thank you.

Susan A Robins
sue-ann17@cox.net

You know what you did Sue. I will not rehash it here, I have said what I have to say on it.

If you need a reminder, go here.

Rebecca, be honest, you invited me on initially to talk about Central House but then before I was to be on had a "guest" trash me for over 1/2 hour daring me to respond and Marti was promoting me being on as a fight........that's the truth and you know it. I keep copies of ALL my email correspondence. You even acknowledged it at the time. You two were doing Springer in drag, pure and simple.

Rebecca I didn't do anything.
And you Know it

You are just attacking me because i take issue with your transgender dogma and because i support the HBS ideal.

I am surprised at you.
Oh well.

Have a nice day;
Sue


No, Cathryn, I never wanted to bash you. Perhaps Marti might have (though she's perfectly capable of speaking for herself on this), but I wanted you on to talk about valid issues: Paganism, Wicca, and Central House (yes, you right about that one, thanks for reminding me). That's what I told you at the time, and I challenge you to prove otherwise. It was only your own paranoia that convinced you I was out to get you.

Sue, unless you are denying your own posts, the proof of your guilt is available for all to see simply by clicking on the link I posted above. Further, I did a little digging and discovered this is hardly the first time you've done something like this and then denied it afterward. Shall I post the results of my investigation for all to see, or would you like to drop it now, while you've been proven a liar to the Bilerico community only once so far?

""Sue, unless you are denying your own posts, the proof of your guilt is available for all to see simply by clicking on the link I posted above. Further, I did a little digging and discovered this is hardly the first time you've done something like this and then denied it afterward. Shall I post the results of my investigation for all to see, or would you like to drop it now, while you've been proven a liar to the Bilerico community only once so far?""

If you posted any link i sure can't find it.

Investigation
Bullcrap.
nice t4ry at intimidation MaaaaaM


Sue

Rebecca,

Both you and Marti started accusing me of "censorship" for refusing to be interviewed..that was my first experience with the brand of logic all too common among TGs.....and it wasn't paranoia, and you know it. It was a classic set up for ambush interviewing. At no time back then was my religious work even mentioned as a reason for me being on the show........again, I remind you I actually keep all my electronic correspondence and refer to it when someone revises history.

Cathryn,

You, I, Marti, and many others know the truth here, even if you refuse to admit it. Your victim mentality and paranoia are legendary in this community, and I won't indulge it any further with my participation.

I'm done with discussing your twisted view of things that went on six years ago. I've got better things to do.

Okay - I'm going to step in here and say, "Enough."

This post is about LGBT media. It's not about the history of Rebecca's show, Sue's or Cathryn's history of being guests/not being guests or Sue's actions on another site. This comment section is getting seriously off-topic.

I've noticed the comment thread seems to include three of you and that's about it. Wonder why? Most of us don't know (or care) about most of these comments and would rather have a discussion about Becky's topic.

I totally agree.
Thanks Bil