My Year as a GLAAD Media Award Winner

It was pretty exciting to be named OUTstanding Blog in the national GLAAD Media Awards. Exciting is such an understatement, as if I’m trying to capture the awesome feeling of the accomplishment but wrap it in some humility so you don’t think I’m a jagoff.

It hasn’t been an experience that revolutionized my entire world and transformed my day to day experiences, or so I thought. I thought it was an honor, an acknowledgement of (then) 14 years of hard work and persistence, a testament to the role blogs play both in the LGBTQ community and the larger world.

I remember getting the news while I was sitting in this very seat on the sofa watching a movie with Laura.

The awards were announced around 8:30 PM Saturday night. I was at home with Laura after dinner at Olive Garden and a quick stop at Starbucks. Then I plunged a clogged drain in the basement and settled in to watch the documentary ‘Knock Down the House’ on Netflix. At this point, I thought the highlight of my evening was the OG server sliding some extra breadsticks into our leftovers bag – that doesn’t happen all of the time.

So I was engrossed in the movie when my phone ‘blew up’ as they say and I read that I had won the category.

Wow. Ok, so I actually screamed “OH MY GOD, I WON” and jumped out of my seat. It took Laura a moment to realize what I was talking about. She demanded I hand her my phone to read the tweet and that I stop jumping up and down because I was scaring the cats. Then she said “OH MY GOD, YOU WON” and joined me in the jumping up and down. The cats by this time had fled for safe haven elsewhere in the living room.

We watched the rest of the documentary and I went to bed at 11 while she stayed up to watch the news and some SNL. A not so typical Saturday night.

The next night, we celebrated with dinner at Or, The Whale were the lovely host who reads my feed treated us to a complimentary mocktail.

While there was no seismic shift that opened doors to book deals and sponsors and advertisers, I can see now that this award has changed me and the blog permanently in several key ways.

First, I believe more than ever that blogging is critical for democracy. With mainstream media resources shrinking almost weekly, there are literally thousands of stories that are not being told and already marginalized communities without representation in the news and information we consume. Blogging is the ultimate political tool – anyone with internet access can create and maintain one. We cannot underestimate that or those voices.

Second, there are people who value our work. I teamed up with Code4Good to created the #SteelCitySnowflakes app as a fundraising mechanism. They didn’t do it as a favor to me personally, they did it because they see value in the content. More than 7 people worked on this and I appreciate the boost of self-sufficiency they created.

Third, most people don’t care. Some do. It still catches me off guard when someone mentions this award, in a good way but off guard nonetheless. I was happy to share that good fortune with my publishers and so forth, but it didn’t protect me from the vagaries of the media world when I stopped writing a regular column or when a formal proclamation fell through. I realized to my dismay that I was still looking for validation from people in my own community, not for the award itself but for me as a neighbor and friend who is part of this larger community fabric. This self-disclosure helped me take a step back from those expectations and adopt a new perspective.

I was honored to be nominated again this year. No one has won the award in back-to-back years and I believe there is only one other outlet that has won twice. Naturally, I’d be thrilled to win again. But I’m also thrilled to have been nominated three times and moving forward to new opportunities.

My hope is to bring the GLAAD Media Institute to Pittsburgh for a proper training that includes mainstream media outlets and bloggers alike. That would be a fitting tribute to the hometown of a national award winning lesbian blog.

GLAAD has wisely canceled their NYC gala event and will be announcing winners through other means. So Saturday evening I will know to whom I pass the baton and wish them well on their own year of reflection and growth.

Congratulations to all of the nominees. Enjoy your moment, try not to define the experience as a reflection on your deservedness, and appreciate the ties that bind us all – telling LGBTQ stories.

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