Twenty-five years ago, Roy Aarons gathered a group of journalists together in his San Francisco Bay Area living room to talk about the issues that face LGBTQ people in the newsroom. From that first meeting, NLGJA has grown to be the voice for LGBTQ people in newsrooms across the country. Join us for a look back over more than two decades of progress for LGBTQ journalists. The nostalgia continues all year.
NLGJA’ is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. See some of the milestones along the way! And share your memories on facebook or twitter #nlgja25.
1990: NLGJA FoundedIN THE BEGINNING… The American Society of Newspaper Editors announces the results of its first-ever survey of gay and lesbian journalists at American newspapers. The survey’s coordinator, then-Oakland Tribune executive editor Roy Aarons, reveals he is gay. The study, “Alternatives: Gays and Lesbians in the Newsroom,” indicates newsrooms harbor “palpable undercurrent of bias.” In 1990, only one newspaper, the Village Voice, offers domestic partners benefits. Spurred by the ASNE survey, lesbian and gay journalists begin to ...
1991: First Edition of AlternativesThe first edition of Alternatives, the NLGJA newsletter, is published. Roy Aarons calls it “a major milestone in our yearlong effort to get this organization off the ground.” The editorial staff of the newsletter includes Shannon Hickey, Warren Pederson and Kate Slott.
1992: First National ConventionAt NLGJA’s first national convention, 300 lesbian and gay journalists meet in San Francisco, many out for the first time. In a videotaped message, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., promises that the Times will offer domestic partners benefits.
1993: NBC Agrees to Policy of Nondiscrimination for LGBT EmployeesAfter meeting with NLGJA, NBC News reaffirms in a memo to employees its policy not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. NLGJA now has 13 chapters
1994: “Domestic Partner Benefits: At What Cost?”NLGJA publishes “Domestic Partner Benefits: At What Cost?” - a guide for news media companies on instituting domestic partner health benefits. Ten media companies are known to offer domestic partner benefits at the time.
1994: Steven Gendel Comes OutNLGJA member Steven Gendel is the first journalist to disclose he is gay on a major network when he outs himself during an NBC broadcast of the Stonewall Celebration.
1995: Canadian Chapter FormedCanada forms its own National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association with ties to the U.S. parent group.
1995: Report on Gay and Lesbian Issues in Electronic JournalismNLGJA and the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation publish Another Perspective: A report on Gay and Lesbian Issues in Electronic Journalism. The survey reveals most are unimpressed with the quality and extent of coverage of many gay issues.
1996: NLGJA Hires Executive DirectorMichael Frederickson becomes NLGJA’s first full-time executive director. NLGJA national headquarters relocates from Northern California to Washington, DC.
1997: First Published Stylebook Addenda: Gay/Lesbian TerminologyKaren-Louise Boothe is elected NLGJA president. NLGJA publishes Stylebook Addenda: Gay/Lesbian Terminology. The German Association of Gay and Lesbian Journalists is founded. NLGJA issues an updated domestic partner benefits guide. The Washington Post refuses to extend benefits to domestic partners but the Hearst Media group does. Knight-Ridder follows suit and soon 56 news organizations are offering domestic partnership benefits.
1998: Annual Convention in Las VegasThe NLGJA holds its annual convention in Las Vegas, with over 500 people in attendance. The convention was themed "On A Roll: Dealing an Open Hand in the Newsroom."
1999: Second Executive Director HiredXiomara A. Sosa joins NLGJA as its second executive director, the first Latina and the first lesbian to hold the job.
2000: Lesbians and Gays In the Newsroom: 10 Years Later PublishedNLGJA celebrates its 10th Anniversary at a gala San Francisco convention. The organization now has 1,000 members in its 19 chapters and those in Germany and Canada. NLGJA launches a new survey, Lesbians and Gays In the Newsroom: 10 Years Later.
2000: Pamela Strother Becomes Third Executive DirectorPamela Strother served as the organization’s first Director of Development in 2006 and took the helm as Executive Director in September 2000.
2001: Gill Foundation AwardThe Gill Foundation awards $100,000 to NLGJA, the largest made to NLGJA since its first award in 1995.
2001: Rapid Response Task ForceNLGJA members and staff work daily with our colleagues in the news industry to fulfill the organization's mission of fair and accurate coverage. Sometimes, though, a more targeted response is required to promote greater understanding about how to fairly and accurately cover the LGBT community. NLGJA's answer to this is the Rapid Response Task Force. This panel of working journalists from mainstream and LGBT media answers complaints about reporting seen as unfair and/or inaccurate by readers, ...
2001: NewsWatch Celebrates NLGJA’s 10th AnniversaryNewsWatch (founded in 1997 as a joint project of the San Francisco State University, the Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and NLGJA) publishes an issue celebrating NLGJA’s 10th Anniversary.
2001: Strategic Plan RatifiedNLGJA ratified a strategic plan in Dallas, TX, which put emphasis on core program goal areas of membership and chapter growth; improved coverage of LGBT communities; expansion of benefits for LGBT employees; increased student outreach and education; and more professional development training.
2002: Steven Petrow Elected PresidentSteven Petrow elected to NLGJA presidency.
2002: Minnesota Chapter VictoryMinnesota Chapter lobbies Minneapolis Star Tribune to consider a contract with a vendor only after gaining assurance that its leaders could work respectfully with a newspaper that had ‘out’ employees. The vendor in question, in response, added ‘sexual orientation’ to its anti-discrimination language.
2002: Barbara Dozetos Joins NLGJA Executive CommitteeThe first LGBT press member, Barbara Dozetos, joins the executive committee of NLGJA.
2002: Domestic Partner Benefits Offered at The Associated PressThe Associated Press offers domestic partner benefits to its gay and lesbian employees.
2002: NLGJA Joins Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass CommunicationsNLGJA becomes a voting member of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, which reviews and grants accreditation of college level programs.
2002: Domestic Partner Benefits Offered At More Media CompaniesThe New York Daily News and the Belo Corporation add their names to the ranks of major news media companies offering domestic partner benefits to their employees.
2004: NLGJA Mourns Loss of FounderNLGJA mourns the loss of its founder, Roy Aarons.
2004: Newsroom Outreach Project LaunchesNLGJA kicks off its Newsroom Outreach Project, which seeks to familiarize newsroom leaders with NLGJA and discuss LGBT coverage issues. Meetings launched in DC, New Orleans, and Colorado.
2004: First LGBT Media SummitThe first LGBT Media Summit is held in New York in conjunction with the National Convention.
2005: 15th AnniversaryNLGJA celebrates 15 years. There are 1,200 members and 24 chapters across the country and affiliates in Canada and Germany.
2005: LGBT Journalists Hall of FameNLGJA unveils the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame, honoring the pioneering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender journalists whose actions demonstrated both exemplary professionalism and personal courage. [insert page='nlgja-hall-of-fame' display='link'] [insert page='nlgja-hall-of-fame' display='excerpt-only'] Continue reading.
2005: Remembering Roy AaronsAn accomplished journalist who spent 14 years as a reporter and editor at the Washington Post, Aarons sent shockwaves through the news industry in 1990 when he emotionally acknowledged that he was gay at a conference of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. That announcement, which came at the end of a speech in which he also unveiled results of a landmark survey of gay and lesbian journalists that showed most were unhappy with their ...
2006: CNN Donation Funds Leroy F. Aarons ScholarshipCNN donates $100,000 to the newly established NLGJA Scholarship Fund endowment, funding the Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship Award.
2006: Lifetime Membership ProgramNLGJA launches the Lifetime Membership Program.
2007: David Barre Hired as Executive DirectorNLGJA hires new Executive Director, David Barre.
2008: NLGJA Elects 6th President: David SteinbergDavid Steinberg of the San Francisco Chronicle elected as NLGJA’s 6th president.
2009: Michael Tune Hired as Executive DirectorNLGJA hires Michael Tune as the new Executive Director.
2009: Student Advisory Committee FormedNLGJA forms the Student Advisory Committee, to aid in reaching out to students, creating education projects and build exposure among journalism schools.
2009: Re:ACT Goes LiveRe:ACT, the official NLGJA blog, goes live - more than doubling NLGJA’s exposure and traffic on the web.
2010: 20th AnniversaryNLGJA celebrates 20 years at the National Convention in San Francisco.
2011: NLGJA Enters UNITY Journalists’ AllianceNLGJA Enters UNITY Journalists' Alliance Devoted to Diversity, UNITY Diversifies Its Own Mission FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Priya Barnes, (414) 405-5075, firstname.lastname@example.org for UNITY Michael Tune, (202) 588-9888, email@example.com for NLGJA McLean, Va. (Sept. 19, 2011) – UNITY: Journalists of Color will now include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA), after the boards of directors of both organizations agreed to the partnership last week. NLGJA's mission to advance the interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender journalists is consistent ...
2012: UNITY 2012: Day 1Despite the saying, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," the first day of UNITY 2012 in Las Vegas was too special and important to not share. The opening program was hosted by Juju Chang of ABC News and Mark Whitaker, EVP and Managing Editor of CNN Worldwide. The program included comments by the alliance presidents and Unity president Joanna Hernandez, as well as an award to Unity founder Will Sutton, who encouraged Unity and NABJ ...
2012: Michael Triplett is Elected NLGJA PresidentIn 2012, Michael Triplett becomes NLGJA's 7th National President. Triplett was instrumental in recognizing bloggers members of the association.
2013: NLGJA President Michael Triplett Dies, 1964-2013It is with great sadness that we inform you that our friend and leader, NLGJA President Michael Triplett, passed away today after a courageous battle with cancer. While Michael only served as president for a few short months, he has been a member of our leadership team for several years, first as a Washington, D.C. chapter board member and president and then as a national board member and vice president for print. His quiet demeanor masked ...
2013: Jen Christensen Suceeds Triplett as NLGJA PresidentAfter Michael Triplett died in 2013, Jen Christensen becomes NLGJA's 8th President.
2013: 4th annual LGBT Media Journalists ConveningOn February 22 and 23, over 60 of the nation's top LGBT bloggers, reporters and editors traveled to Philadelphia for the 4th annual LGBT Editors and Bloggers Convening. Funded by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and hosted by NLGJA board member and Bilerico Project Editor-In-Chief, Bil Browning, this invitation-only event has quickly become one of the most anticipated of the year. The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association is very excited to have sponsored ...
2013: NLGJA and AAJA Partner on Heartland ProjectNLGJA partners with the Asian American Journalist Association on the "Diverse and Inclusive: News of the Heartland" project. The project aimed to enhance coverage of communities of color and LGBT issues in the country’s heartland. Based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the project is a collaboration with newsrooms across Nebraska to deepen reporting on immigration, the economy, health care and domestic violence as seen through the lens of the state’s increasingly diverse population.
2014: Adam Pawlus Becomes Executive DirectorAs the organization continues to expand, Adam Pawlus is hired as executive director.
2015: 6th Annual LGBT Media Journalists ConveningThe National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association is proud to host the 2015 LGBT Media Journalists Convening, sponsored by the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. With the theme of "What Happens When You Catch the Car," the forum will be held Friday, March 13 to Sunday, March 15, in Philadelphia, PA. The goal of the forum is to strengthen the capacity of LGBT members of the media and blogosphere to more deeply understand and more ...
2015: New Membership Offer for Allies of NLGJANLGJA offers longtime supporters a new way to partner toward fair and accurate coverage For Immediate Release: February 18, 2015 Media Contact: Bach Polakowski Bach@nlgja.org or 202-588-9888 Washington, DC – The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association today announced a campaign to encourage allies to join and take part in its programs for members. This change, offering an Ally Membership for $75 a year, goes into effect in preparation for the organization’s 25th anniversary celebration later in 2015. NLGJA continues ...
2015: Scholarship Winner: John-Carlos EstradaThe Kay Longcope Scholarship was established in 2008 in memory of The Boston Globe journalist Kay Longcope, who upon her retirement co-founded the Texas Triangle, a LGBT weekly newspaper. This scholarship supports the education of an LGBT student of color pursuing a career in journalism. Past winners are: Linda Sankat (2014), Mario Montavlo (2013), John-Carlos Estrada (2012), Fenit Nirappil (2011) and Carl Gaines (2010).
2015: NLGJA Will Honor Cyd Zeigler, Co-Founder of OutSports.com, June 25 at L.A. ExclusiveNLGJA will present the 2015 Lisa Ben Award for Achievement in Features Coverage to Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of OutSports.com, at L.A. Exclusive on June 25. “Cyd Zeigler’s such an important pioneer when it comes to telling the real story about the LGBT community and sports," said Jen Christensen, NLGJA president. "There’s a reason LGBT athletes come to him first with their stories. Our community is so lucky to have such an able hand steering this important narrative for both current ...
2016: NSNC Joins NLGJA’s Diverse Network of PartnersRecognizing the importance of increasing diversity in journalism, NLGJA will expand its strategic partnerships to now include the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. For NSNC, this networking alliance is part of an diversity initiative started by NSNC President Jerry Zezima. “The partnership will strengthen both organizations,” Zezima said, “and provide its members with leads to jobs and freelance opportunities, the ability to participate in each other’s conferences and writing contests, and, among many other perks, a ...