Views expressed in The Advocate's opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.
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Hope this finds all enjoying a new year, despite the spectacle recently created in our House of Representatives not been seen since times of legal slavery in America. Rep. George Santos of New York was probably thankful for the momentary news deflection by his own party.
As a significant shareholder and gay male executive in the leading media brands to the LGBTQ+ community (LGBTQ+ owned/operated equalpride.com, publisher of this website), a longtime resident of New York, and, well, an American citizen, I feel entitled to ask the question to Santos: Are you even gay? Given his history of lying about everything, including arrest record, education, employment, and personal wealth, it is fair for the LGBTQ+ community, the media, and the 250,000 voters in his district to ask Congressman Santos the same question.
Regardless of his words, here's an equal and recognized path for Santos to prove his word on being gay. It is the same path recognized for companies like ours in becoming LGBTQ-certified in our ownership and operations to improve our company's representation in new business and regulations. It is the same certification process recognized and, in some cases, required by most major corporations in America by the U.S. government, which increases consideration of competitive minority-certified firms in all vendor relationships. Why is this certification important? Being certified as a minority business helps historically underrepresented minority owned/operated companies grow and satisfy a company's diversity goals along with several benefits for investors, employees, and consumers. And the LGBTQ+ consumers we serve tell brands that if they show love to our community (through outreach, advertising, employee groups), we will return the favor. And, in the case of equalpride, many of our advertising clients want to work with us for the concentration of diverse audience we deliver as well as the intended achievement of company inclusion goals and consumer love and loyalty. Sounds like a rare win all around.
LGBTQ+ certification for the equalpride leadership was simple, and this is proposed to Santos to prove he's gay: Produce three affidavits from three different individuals attesting under penalty of law that you identify as LGBTQ+. As such, I propose that all media, organizations, and voters vetting Santos ask that he certify to being gay by producing the same requested three affidavits (and in case he wonders the same thing I did when learning of the required affidavits, the answer is "No, you don't have to have slept with those signing the affidavits"). If he refuses to get the recognized affidavits, I will propose to our editors that they never give up on this topic until he affirms. If he agrees and confirms he's gay with three affidavits and truly wants to atone for his sins, he should throw himself into service and helping his community long after he's a congressman, which regardless of his identity is likely to be a very short amount of time. However, he's already proven to be lost to the selfish, so I doubt he'll respond in any meaningful way other than to help himself.
Also, and speaking of Santos, the next obvious question is why didn't the media and GOP vet this guy's background? I also ask that question of myself, especially. For my part in the company ownership, operations, and as a voter, I want to apologize and also recognize the importance of LGBTQ+ media in uncovering unworthy candidates, especially gay ones regardless of party, long before they are elected to Congress. I feel both vindicated and responsible for Santos not being found out as dishonest long before his lies were illuminated. And in these mixed feelings will come a vow to our community -- so please wait for it.
I feel vindicated because before equalpride was created in June 2022 and well into the Santos election cycle, we were Equal Entertainment and bought the assets of Pride Media, combining to create the leading voices to America's LGBTQ+ audience. And, increasingly we are reaching more and more women and people of color to achieve our mission, not just our name of equalpride. Pride Media -- which included Out, The Advocate, Pride.com, Out Traveler, Plus, and our newest property, The Advocate Channel -- was not LGBTQ-owned, and the former owner donated to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. After three long years of acquisition, equalpride was born. With equalpride owner/operators at the helm now for the last six months or so, the difference in reach is obvious, with December 2022 serving as our greatest digital performance in the history of the company -- which means voices of inspiration, aspiration, love, and equality are reaching the most marginalized and celebrated who share our identities. I think you can see the vow coming.
And before we get to the vow. I am personally ashamed that our historically underrepresented LGBTQ+ media and diminishing local voices either were not heard or did not recognize the fraud of Congressman George Santos. It demonstrates the need for investment in local and diverse voices like equalpride. One out of five American voters no longer have a local news outlet. This diminishment is not just an injustice to our democracy, it is presenting a tremendous business opportunity for investment. The now thriving equalpride is evidence.
So, finally on to my own vow to you. I recommit myself to put focus, investment, and partnerships with organizations like Victory Fund and GLAAD, to get more media covering and uncovering every voter-relevant fact about every candidate for federal office. We need diverse news voices more than ever. We need to preserve the media at all costs, be it ours that is national or local outlets. You can help with this vow. Please subscribe to our equalpride brands. Please subscribe to local media or seek to help set up local newsletters that fill the void. Please donate your read Out, Out Traveler, Advocate, and Plus magazines to accepting youth groups, schools, libraries, and centers -- spread the word of hope and equality and love (and counter the banning of print books). Visit our sites daily and be informed. Follow our sites so we can let others in our communities know more.
I will write back with Congressman Santos's response on whether he is gay.
Michael Dru Kelley is chairman of equalpride, publisher of The Advocate.