I got the text at Trader Joe's.
It was the typical Sunday evening pandemonium at everyone's favorite kitschy, cheap, kinda-organic grocery store. Our news director Sunnivie Brydum was keeping me in the loop on our wins at the National Entertainment Journalism awards, put on by the Los Angeles Press Club. By that point in the night, about 7 p.m., we had done pretty well.
Jase Peeples, our entertainment editor, had won for a fascinating profile he wrote about Mark Patton, the HIV-positive star of A Nightmare on Elm Street, capturing a dark side of the film industry. He also won for an op-ed about how crucial positive representations of LGBT people are for our youth, and earned second place on a piece diving into whether Divergent is Sci-Fi's first major bisexual allegory. Sunnivie, Daniel Reynolds, and contributor Parker Marie Molloy took home second place for a piece that caused a bit of a stir, to say the least, about the dreaded t-word. And our comedy-focused Twitter persona, helmed by hilarious lady Jami Smith, won third place for best use of social media.
I was feeling quite proud, even if I was just shopping for a jar of pickles in a grocery store in West L.A.
But then came the text. The big text. The one that made me shout as I bagged my groceries, sending shooting stares at me from all over the already-chaotic checkout line at TJ's.
"Jase won! Jase! He's journalist of the year!"
I typed back as many emojis and exclamation marks as I could as my husband and the checkout guy took over the bagging and paying duties. Another text went out to my boss, Lucas Grindley, who proceeded to text back another round of exclamation marks.
Here, when someone wins anything, we celebrate. Because we respect each other. I'm in awe of the people I work with. Even on days when I have to make myself crawl out of bed and make myself look and smell presentable for other humans, I know I'm lucky to come here, because I'm surrounded by a group of good, hard-working people.
There aren't a ton of people who work here. I think some people believe The Advocate is some behemoth newsroom with a million people in it. Nope. As far as our company's editorial staff goes, there's about a dozen of us digital people in Los Angeles, a handful fantastic contributors across the country, and a small print team in New York; between all of us, we run three magazines (h/t to our pals at Out and HIV Plus), and seven sites (including SheWired, OutTraveler, and Gay.net).
Despite our intimate team, though, The Advocate has not been a stranger to hardware this year.
Sunnivie and photographer D. David Robinson kicked off our first round of wins this year when they took home the GLAAD Award for a piece that shed light on the harsh realities of being LGBTI in Uganda. They later won an award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for that piece. Unfortunately, I can't link to it. We took it down in an effort to prevent any more anti-LGBT violence in Uganda, but we know the activists featured in the piece are more fearless than any of us sitting in cubicles in Los Angeles.
Jase's desk is covered in awards this year, including the ones mentioned above and an NLGJA-Los Angeles award for this essay on why the latest Superman film was a modern gay allegory.
Diane Anderson-Minshall won the Western Publishing Association's Leadership Award, NLGJA-LA's Overall Grand Prize for Excellence in Journalism, and the 56th Annual SoCal Journalism Award for for this epic piece. She also co-chaired the NLGJA's LGBT Media Summit this fall, spoke all over the place (including at the United Nations), and co-authored the well loved memoir, Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders with her awesome husband Jake.
Out magazine kept putting out gorgeous, well written issues, designed by David Gray, whose work was honored by Folio this year. And in a display of digital media convergence, Out was nominated for an Emmy in partnership with Here TV for A World of Dreams: Voices From the Out100.
But even awards can't encapsulate all of the good work my colleagues do. Our art team, Christopher Harrity, Yannick Delva, and Michael Luong, don't get nearly enough credit for providing us with art for every single piece that gets published, no matter how difficult it is to illustrate. Our digital team works tirelessly to build and rebuild our sites and apps, and keep things running as smoothly as they can for us and our readers. My pal Neal Broverman shepherds travel content while also reminding us to push the envelope and think of coverage from all sorts of angles. Trudy Ring is our enforcer of correct word usage, and a real-deal reporter with a passion for keeping our history alive. Tracy Gilchrist may write a lot about her favorite shows on ABC Family, but deep down, she has an eye for equality and justice. Daniel Reynolds is our (very tall) poet laureate who keeps us on track each day. Levi Chambers is our newest editorial addition, but he's got the Warwick Rowers on lock already. And then there's our contributors, who have their ear on the ground and help us cover this multifaceted community. Thanks to them, we're writing deeper about what it means to be modern, informed LGBT citizens.
And geez, poor Lucas, probably the calmest person here, has to deal with all of our crazy personalities. And he's got a fancy-schmancy title that requires him to do math! Forget awards, someone pour that guy a drink.
This year, I got a couple of nice certificates and plaques, too. I'm not one to gloat, so I won't. But I had a pretty good year -- without a doubt, my best year professionally. And it's largely because I'm surrounded by people who make me want to be the best journalist I can be. (Also, Lucas brings cake to the office on a regular basis, so I just keep coming back, year after year).
Each of us has a different reason we've landed in the journalism pool. Collectively, we do this because we think it's important, we hope you do, too. We don't all win awards. Some of us do. But all of us try to do the best work we can, and it's all for you.
Here's to even more fantastic work in 2015 and beyond.
MICHELLE GARCIA is the managing editor of this joint. Follow her on Twitter @MzMichGarcia.