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Why #DayInLGBTQ America Matters

Why #DayInLGBTQ America Matters

The editors of The Advocate on why visibility is essential during a political administration bent on LGBTQ erasure.

dnlreynolds

This year, hundreds shared photographs and videos for #DayInLGBTQ, an annual social media campaign where members of the LGBTQ community can share moments from their lives with the world. Below, the editors of The Advocate discuss their #DayInLGBTQ experiences from Tuesday and why this visibility matters during a political era of queer erasure.

Daniel Reynolds, The Advocate's editor of social media

This year on #DayInLGBTQ, it was my job as The Advocate's social media editor to review the photographs being posted to Twitter and Instagram. There was so much to love this year -- including a same-sex couple announcing their engagement to the world!

But as always, it's the small moments that I enjoyed the most: LGBTQ people commuting, taking coffee breaks, editing video for a local news channel, trying to stay awake in a college class, waking up next to the person they love. These moments provide a truer narrative of LGBTQ life than images seen in media, where members of our community are often painted as villains or victims.

After my day at the office, I was reminded of the importance of this visibility when my partner and I went to see an advance screening of Girl,the controversial Netflix film about a transgender ballerina, whose struggle with gender dysphoria leads to self-harm. The audience included many transgender folks, who had a passionate conversation with the director after the film about what offended them -- for example, scenes of mutilation and objectification, and an overall focus on pain over joy. But these audience members talked about what they loved. Many praised the protagonist's relationship with her father, who supports her and loves her through her struggle. It was a relationship many of them had never seen on the big screen and yearned to see more of in media.

It is campaigns like #DayInLGBTQ that offer queer people an opportunity to tell narratives like these to the world, to show the powers that be -- whether they be presidents or producers-- about what their lives are really like. We are neither tropes nor political scapegoats. And whenever we can, we must use the tools at hand to remind the world of our humanity.

Allison Tate, Pride Media's director of editorial video

My #DayinLGBTQ began with writing down my dream, tossing on my comfiest hoodie, and dashing off to the bus. After meditating on my commute, I entered our meeting and returned to the challenges that our climate and community face.

I then faced down a challenging After Effects edit and felt rewarded at the end of the day when a colleague offered a serendipitous kindness. On the bus back, I called my mom for an update on my hospitalized grandma, and thankfully, she told me Nana is OK. Arriving home, I lit my new Christmas candle before making dinner and enjoying it in the soft light. I spoke with a friend about adventures in the new year and soaked in a quiet moment before bed. A solid day, but was it a standout?

At that point, I hadn't realized my day was only one thread in the tapestry.

The next morning, I logged on to review the social media streams and saw the rest of the story. Dads decorating, dapper social workers, a nonbinary parent, inspired trans women, and so many more sweet souls filled the feed. One mom excited to have her gay sons home at Christmas stood out to me. I caught myself smiling at my screen, surprised at the uplifting feeling! Peering into this slice of the spectrum that we never see in the mainstream gave me a beautiful new perspective. These people make the world better, I thought.

Tuesday, I felt mine was a good, but not an exceptional day. Wednesday, I felt that our everyday existence is exceptional.

Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief

Most of the time I'm a glass-half-full kind of person. But sometimes I go into a state where I see the glass as not only empty but smashed into shards. Working at The Advocate -- for 21 years now! -- I've dealt with stories that sent me into both types of moods. From the despair over the brutal hate crime that took Matthew Shepard's life (and similar crimes that have taken so many others') to the elation at seeing marriage equality realized, from the joy at progress under President Barack Obama to disgust over the depredations of Donald Trump. (By the way, I refuse to put "President" in front of his name.)

Tuesday, which was our #DayInLGBTQ, when we invite readers to post pictures of their day on Twitter and Instagram, I was covering some stories that were of the despair-inducing type. My title here is copy chief, which means I'm responsible for editing our online content for grammar, style, clarity, and accuracy, but I also do a lot of writing -- more and more, due to the 24-hour news cycle. I do many of the stories on transgender issues, and I started the day with an article on yet another murder of a transgender woman. Like most of the 24 trans people murdered this year (that we know of), Keanna Mattel of Detroit was a woman of color. We report each and every death to shine a light on the violence faced by trans Americans, so I wrote up Keanna's story. One way in which her story differed from others was that police quickly arrested a suspect -- often these crimes go unsolved for years. Wednesday, in a follow-up, I reported that the suspect is a minister at a Detroit church and that prosecutors believe he was motivated by transphobia. Process that for a while.

Speaking of crimes unsolved for years, I then wrote about a million-dollar reward being offered for information leading to an arrest in the murder of Scott Johnson, an American gay man living in Australia who plunged to his death from a cliff in Sydney 30 years ago. It took until last year for the authorities to recognize this as an antigay hate crime -- his death was initially ruled a suicide. But his brother, Steve Johnson, has pointed out that Scott was in a good place in his life at the time and highly unlikely to jump from a cliff. And those cliffs, which were a well-known gay gathering place, were also where gangs of young people harassed and attacked gay men, sometimes chasing them off the cliffs, which is likely what happened to Scott Johnson. Still, the fact that a huge reward has been offered means the police are finally taking the case seriously. Like the arrest in the Keanna Mattel case, this is cold comfort to the victim's loved ones, but a bit of progress nonetheless.

Juxtaposed with these stories were the words and images shared by the people who participated in #DayInLGBTQ. Instead of tragedy, they depicted loving relationships with spouses, children, and pets. They also showed people who were improving the lives of others -- LGBTQ rights activists, social workers, members of inclusive faith communities. They were a good reminder that while we cannot avoid sadness, we can find joy -- and that we can work against the hate that caused the deaths of Keanna Mattel and Scott Johnson, and maybe save others from that fate. As Martin Luther King Jr. often said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." (In the interest of accuracy, I must note that he was quoting 19th-century clergyman Theodore Parker.) So my glass seems half full again. If we keep fighting, I may be able to say it runneth over.

Neal Broverman, The Advocate's interim editorial director

It's rare to go online and receive a sense of contentment and connection. That's what #DayinLGBTQ gives me -- I share a (fleeting) story of my day and am invited into the lives of hundreds of others I feel a unique kinship with. How often do we get to see LGBTQ people living their lives -- being brave and persistent in the face of a indifferent society? Not bloody often. Let's do this more!

About my photo: this was the end of my typical morning pandemonium with my foster son and dog, with my barely awake partner snapping the pic before I ran out the door to work.

Tracy E. Gilchrist, The Advocate's feminism editor

It's that time of the year when The Advocate's editors scramble to assemble our best-of/year-end lists to run over our holiday reprieve, and already our annual day in LGBTQ is a bit of a blur for me. But what stands out is the overall sense of community I always feel on that day. I love waking up to see the photos of queer East Coasters snapping pics of themselves freezing and bundled as they commute to work while I'm still snuggled in bed in Los Angeles under my weighted blanket with my beloved cat Jolene pressed against my side.

At nine that day, from home, I jumped on our morning conference call as we rattled off the traffic numbers and tossed around the day's news stories that are often a melange of pop culture silliness juxtaposed with stories of violence and discrimination LGBTQ people continue to face, a daily reminder of why we must remain visible and vigilant.

Following the call, I scrambled to grab Jolene and snap a pic of the two of us before heading into the office. My younger self, the one that came out in 1987 and marched in the Hartford Conn., Pride parade with a scant couple hundred other people, would never would have imagined that, at 51, I would find myself single. So, like my queer identity since I came out, I have embraced the lesbian cat lady label. Sharing a picture with my cat has become my annual tongue-in-cheek tradition, but also, it's a nod to claiming an identity that's been used against single queer women for decades.

From there, I wrote a couple of disparate short posts -- one about a bigot from The Real Housewives of New Jersey and another about L Word star Kate Moennig joining an all-female, mostly queer staged reading of Casablanca, something generations of LGBTQ people could never have conceived of happening in a public sphere.

As we posted our news stories and excitedly shouted out across the office whenever we caught sight of a #DayInLGBTQ photo of someone who once worked with us or of one that moved us, I became overwhelmed with excitement when the Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, tweeted a photo from their rehearsal space in Georgia and labeled it #DayInLGBTQ. From unabashed millennials who worked with us as interns to nurses to tech geeks and a benchmark number of trans men who participated to the Indigo Girl (who represent bravery, nostalgia, and pride, especially for queer women my age), LGBTQ people represented themselves. All of that, I hope, will help add up to fewer and fewer stories about violence and discrimination against our community.

dnlreynolds
30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.