Our Session at Podcamp Pittsburgh – Fairness and Accuracy in Language

So … many months ago PG columnist Tony Norman used the term “sexual preference” in an otherwise positive column. When I called him on it, he explained that it was simply a matter of language evolving and that sexual orientation was the newest terminology. After some back and forth, he agreed to take a gander at the GLAAD media guide.

A few weeks later, PG columnist Sally Kalson used the term “homosexal sex” in an otherwise positive column. When I called her on it, she was flummoxed – wasn’t sex between two men technically sex between homosexuals? I explained and also asked her to read the GLAAD media guide. She agreed.

Prior to that my interactions with local media have ranged — reporters covering transgender issues who are willing to talk with GLAAD on the spot, reporters who take umbrage with me for criticizing them because they have gay friends and reporters who simply think homosexual is fine and have no plans to change.

I personally have a problem with homosexual because I think it is neither fair nor accurate. So I had an idea – why not bring together some diverse media experts to talk about these issues at Podcamp? Podcamp has moved to a more professional social media user – a group that should be very attentive to issues of fairness and accuracy in their communication. It seemed like a good fit.

They thought so, too. So please join us on Saturday, October 27 at 10 AM for a Panel Discussion


  • Aria Charles – human services professional, board member of Best Buddies @unocalfan76
  • Chaz Kellem – Diversity Manager for Pittsburgh Pirates and motivational speaker@chazkellem
  • Chris Potter – Editor in Chief at The City Paper @cpotterpgh
  • Tony Norman – Columnist and part of the Editorial Staff at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette @tonynormanpg

I will be moderating.  @pghlesbian24

[They] will join moderator Sue Kerr to discuss fairness and accuracy issues when covering issues related to diverse communities and issues. Is this just about being “PC”? Who decides what’s fair? Where do you turn for help with the language and acronyms? Do the same rules apply to MSM and social media?

Most important … why does it matter? Panelists will draw on their professional expertise as well as their personal experiences as the subjects and loved ones of social media coverage of issues pertaining to race, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, mental health, religion and more.

What are three key takeaways attendees will learn from your session?
*Links to professional, credible guides and resources you can consult when creating content related to diversity.
*Fairness & accuracy vs political correctness.
*Style guide suggestions for unique social media challenges ie “How to tweet about issues with really long words”

This is not about being PC. I’m using LGBTQ examples because I know them well, but that’s why I invited a diverse panel.

Here’s two examples of why I think this is important


  • It not accurate – it is a dated medical term that describes sexual attraction, not the whole person. Referring to me by my sexual attraction is not respectful or remotely complete. It is also only applicable to gay men and lesbians. Bisexual men and women, transgender men and women and queer men and women are not homosexual (necessarily.)
  • It is not fair – the term has been co-opted by the right wing to intentionally reduce us to sexual behavior, not portray as a whole human being with lives far beyond our sexual attraction. It doesn’t include the people we love, the commitments we make, the experiences we have and the contributions we make. You can’t separate your personal use from this larger cultural shift. And you rarely if ever use the term heterosexual to describe anything BEYOND comparisons to homosexual. I quote “Marriage is between a man and a woman. Homosexual activists want to …” Now that’s now a fair use of language.

This panel is not just about gay stuff. We are going to talk about Jim Roddey’s use of the “r” word, discuss how to access a style guide, consider is black v African American is the same thing as Latino v Hispanic. We’ll also talk about the pressures journalists face both in terms of mastering ever changing language as well as the realistic deadlines they face.

See how I used gay when I was just complaining about homosexual? We can talk about that!

Podcamp takes place at Point Park University Center.

University Center
414 Wood St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

The Keynote Speaker is Pittsburgh Dad in Room A

At 10 AM, we’ll be rolling in Room C. This is a panel, not a lecture. So we will start right in with questions. You can submit questions the old fashioned way by waving your hand frantically in the air or by twitter to me @pghlesbian24 with the hashtag #pcpgh7 While we can’t promote to get to every question, we will try.

There are several panels on similar topics. I want to give a little shout out to the Old Media/New Media discussion at 11 AM featuring Jon Delano of KDKA and David DeAngelo of 2 Political Junkies.

Hope to see you Saturday!




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