Today is Bilerico's 9th birthday as a blog. Cake is on your left. Please leave presents on the table by the door.
While the domain itself predates Google, I used it as a personal homepage and action site before that. I wrote the first entry for the blog and it wasn't much. I had no idea what I was really doing and it seemed like a great way to start anything. I posted a quote from Margaret Mead.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
And in 2005 when we expanded to be a group blog, we set out to do just that. I think we're succeeding beyond our wildest dreams.
One of the most common questions I still get asked is "But what does Bilerico mean?" The answer is after the break.
What Does Bilerico Mean?
"Bilerico" is the combination of founder Bil Browning's name with the first name of his college friend, Eri Muramatsu. After graduation, she returned to Japan and would mail Bil Pokii and chocolate covered Cheetos, while he'd mail her instant mashed potatoes and canned goods. So much stuff was sent back and forth they joked that they should start an import/export business. Hence, Bil-Eri-Co - Bil and Eri's Company.
When AOL became big in the mid-90's, Bil signed up and picked the old joke as a screen name. Bilerico's internet presence was born.
A popular Geocities page followed with information about gay things to do in Indiana and in 1998 a friend bought him bilerico.com as a birthday present. Bil's homepage moved to the new domain, but shortly after both Bil and his partner, Jerame Davis, were fired from a local company because they are gay. They took down the homepage and put up a call to action against the employer that resulted in several large protests and the city's first test of a human rights ordinance banning anti-gay discrimination. It was the internet's first gay rights grassroots online action as the company's server was deluged with e-mails from angry LGBT community members from around the nation.
After the discrimination complaint was settled, Bil and Jerame just used the domain as an e-mail address and Bil continued to use Bilerico as his online identity. As blogs became more popular, Jerame Davis convinced Bil to start a Blogger blog in September of 2004. As early bloggers soon discovered, writing every day is hard, and he enlisted Jerame's help. He later invited Hoosier LGBT leaders, intent on creating discussion and easing in-fighting among activists. In April of 2005, Marla Stevens wrote the first contributor's post and the web's original LGBT group blog was up and running.
Over the next couple of years, Bil did the majority of posts covering mostly Indiana political news, LGBT issues, and, national political commentary. Alex Blaze stopped by and left some comments on a few posts and Bil followed the link back to Alex's blog. He had just started blogging and Bil loved his content immediately. Bil, Jerame and Alex met soon after and Alex shut down his blog to join Bilerico as an exclusive contributor in February of 2007. In a few months, Alex became the first member of the editorial team to help guide and manage a quickly growing online community composed mostly of LGBT activists and politicos.
By that point, Bilerico was one of the most successful Indiana blogs, but the content was important to people all over the country. After several months of work, Jerame, Bil, and Alex retooled the site and launched the Bilerico Project model. The updated blog focused on LGBT issues nationally and stepped outside of politics to embrace the entire LGBT experience. The rebranded site launched July 1, 2007 to immediate acclaim.
Originally an experiment to see if three guys from middle America could bring together several of the community's best thinkers, activists, entertainers, and writers to blog regularly about what they thought was important to our community, the site's immediate popularity and continued growth rate has been nothing short of amazing. Within a couple months Bilerico Project was nominated for a prestigious blogging award and the kudos haven't stopped since.
Why? It's not because of any one person. It's because we offer something you can't find anywhere else. A diverse group of people separated by distance, gender, age, and attitudes has, nonetheless, managed to come together like a family should. We like each other. We look out for each other. We work together and we share our success with each other.
So what does it mean? Bilerico is a type of project - an open-ended experiment in communication and cultural community building.