NLGJA Hall of Fame

All of us in journalism have our heroes in this profession: Somebody who inspired us to get into this business by setting an example of telling the truth — whatever the cost and whatever the difficulties.

Some of us remember Edward R. Murrow for those famous World War II broadcasts from the London rooftops and his courageous denunciation of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Or all of the brave reporters — print and broadcast — who came to my native South to cover the civil rights revolution. Younger journalists may think of Woodward and Bernstein and the Watergate story. Or Seymour Hersh and his dogged reporting from My Lai through Abu Ghraib. Or Christiane Amanpour and her stories from so many hot spots around the globe.

We in the LGBT community have our own heroes: LGBT journalists who have shown courage and resolve by telling the truth, including their own personal truths, whatever the cost and whatever the difficulties.

Established in 2005 as part of NLGJA's 15th anniversary celebration, the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame was launched to make sure that their stories are told and preserved — not just for us, but for all journalists and for our readers and viewers.

The journalists honored here are true heroes. All of us hope that these stories will inspire you as they inspire us.

2013 Hall of Fame

Bob Ross (1934-2003), along with Paul Bentley, founded San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter on April 1, 1971. Bentley sold his interest in 1975. Ross set the highest professional standards for the newspaper and, by 1979, Mayor Dianne Feinstein was asking Ross and San Francisco Sentinel publisher Charles Lee Morris to investigate the city police department’s response to riots following the sentencing of Dan White for the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and openly... Read more.

Mark Allan Segal, born in 1953, founded Philadelphia Gay News as a monthly in 1976, after being inspired by Frank Kameny when they met in 1970. Segal has been publisher of the now-weekly newspaper ever since. Today, PGN, as it’s often known, is one of the two oldest LGBT weekly publications in the United States, and the largest on the East Coast, with a weekly circulation of about 50,000. Before Segal started PGN, however, he was a gay activist. In 1972, after being thrown... Read more.

2012 Hall of Fame

Jill Johnston was born in London, England on May 17, 1929, and was raised in Little Neck, New York. She attended college in Massachusetts and Minnesota, then earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina. In 1958, she married Richard John Lanham, whom she divorced in 1964; she married Ingrid Nyeboe in Denmark in 1993, and in Connecticut in 2009. Johnston was named dance critic by the Village Voice in 1959. At first her reviews were traditional in form and content, even after the... Read more.

Charles Gervin Hayden Jr., who in 1967 legally changed his name to his then-pseudonym Randolfe Hayden Wicker, was born February 3, 1938, in Plainfield, New Jersey. He discovered the homophile movement as a University of Texas at Austin undergraduate, and he spent the summer of 1958 working for the Mattachine Society’s New York City chapter. Wicker convinced the Society to start publicizing its events, making Wicker the U.S. LGBT movement’s first public relations practitioner... Read more.

2011 Hall of Fame

In 1976, Don Michaels was in Buffalo, where he was Mattachine Society president and a self-described “full-time gay activist” managing a gay community center and editing a small gay newsletter, when he and his partner, John Yanson, decided to move to Washington, D.C. In 1977, Michaels started working for The Blade, then a monthly, volunteer-produced newsletter founded in 1969. Michaels became the Blade’s first paid employee, at $314 per month, and was named managing editor in January 1978.... Read more.

Michelangelo Signorile hosts his eponymous radio show on Sirius XM Radio's OutQ channel (SiriusXM 108) weekdays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT. On satellite radio, streamed on the Internet and to Android, BlackBerry and iOS handheld devices, his show is available to 20+ million Sirius XM subscribers. Since earning his journalism degree at Syracuse University, Signorile has been an editor-at-large and columnist for The Advocate; co-founder and features editor at OutWeek magazine; a columnist for... Read more.

William Dorr Lambert Legg (1904—July 26, 1994), was trained as a landscape architect at the University of Michigan, then was a landscape architecture professor at what is now Oregon State University by 1935. In the 1940s, he moved back to Michigan to care for his father and the Legg family business. In 1949, he moved to Los Angeles with his partner, Merton Bird. In 1950, the couple founded Knights of the Clock, a support group for interracial gay couples, and became active members of the... Read more.

2010 Hall of Fame

Lisa Ben, pseudonym for the editor of the first lesbian publication. From June 1947 to February 1948, a lesbian who used the pseudonym “Lisa Ben” wrote a small newsletter in Los Angeles called Vice Versa. She relied on a laborious process at her office at the RKO Movie Studios where she would type one original with four carbon copies, then reload her typewriter, and repeat the process until she had ten copies. Initially, she relied on the postal service for delivery but learned that it was... Read more.

Hank Plante began his journalism career as a copyboy for the Washington Post. Plante developed a love for journalism there, worked on the city desk, and became managing editor at Sentinel Newspapers. He then moved to television, in which he worked at KHJ-TV (Los Angeles), KRIV-TV (Houston), KMSP-TV (Minneapolis), WVEC-TV (Norfolk) and, in Washington, D.C., as assignment editor at WTTG-TV and news editor at WRC Radio. In the mid-1980s, Plante moved to San Francisco, where at CBS affiliate... Read more.

Richard Rouilard, one year out of law school, co-founded in 1979 the National Gay Rights Advocates of San Francisco, which was the first public interest law firm for lesbians and gay men in the United States. In 1981, he moved to Los Angeles, and began a journalism career that included being editor-in-chief of The Advocate. As editor-in-chief, Rouillard nearly tripled circulation, and upgraded the magazine's layout and journalistic standards. He also worked as society and style editor... Read more.

2009 Hall of Fame

Deb Price's debut column for The Detroit News invited readers to help her come up with a less awkward way of introducing her boss to the woman who, at the time, had shared her life for six years: “Surely, a little ingenuity will solve this problem. So tell me, America , how do I introduce Joyce?”

For the first time, a mainstream newspaper took the bold step of publishing a weekly column about life from a gay perspective. Price's column was nationally syndicated from the beginning,... Read more.

Garrett Glaser was the first television journalist to come out of the closet to the radio and television news industry. During a 1992 speech before a large group of TV and radio executives at RTNDA's annual convention Glaser began his remarks by asking the that the lights of the auditorium be turned on because, “We've been in the shadows too long.”

In 1994 Glaser disclosed his sexual orientation during a live report on KNBC-TV's “Channel 4 News” in Los Angeles . When he said the words... Read more.

Ronald Gold opened a brief biography by stating that he “was born in Brooklyn in 1930, entered Brooklyn College at fifteen, and took twelve years to get a degree. By that time he had been a junkie in San Francisco and had his head shrunk in Topeka, KS.”

A sharp writer with an uncompromising style, Gold built a career writing for a number of publications, including Variety.

It was at the age of forty-one that Gold made the decision to dedicate his time and energy to being “a... Read more.

2008 Hall of Fame

Gail Shister is widely regarded as the first “out” reporter in mainstream news media in the United States.

The groundbreaking journalist earned the distinction of being, at three separate newspapers, the news organization’s first female sportswriter. In 1974, she was the first female sportswriter at the Buffalo Evening News. From 1975- 78, she was the first female sportswriter at the New Orleans States-Item, and in 1979, she became the first female sportswriter at the Philadelphia... Read more.

Richard Goldstein has been writing about the intersection of politics and pop culture for more than four decades, starting by covering the 1960s rock scene for New York’s Village Voice. He became a regular contributor and, eventually, editor and executive editor.

Goldstein frequently made waves even at the liberal Voice. He quickly came out in the newsroom, and in 1979, created the annual Queer Issue. An elegant and colorful writer-reporter, Goldstein both authored and edited a... Read more.

2007 Hall of Fame

Jim Kepner began writing extensively for ONE Magazine under his own name and a variety of pseudonyms in April 1954. With assistance from others nationwide, he documented the 1950s witch hunts, exposing the police and liquor control tactics that targeted gay people and violated freedom of association rights.

In 1967, following a raid on Los Angeles’ Black Cat bar, he organized a rally which grew the membership of the newly formed militant PRIDE organization. He wrote and edited much... Read more.

Washington, D.C. native Jack Nichols helped found a Mattachine Society chapter in the city in 1961. In 1965, the same year he founded the Society’s Florida chapter and organized the first gay rights protest at the White House, Nichols and his partner Lige Clarke began writing for D.C.’s Homosexual Citizen.

By 1968 the pair was writing the “Homosexual Citizen” column for Screw magazine, the first time gay men wrote about gay life for a straight periodical. A prolific writer and... Read more.

At the time of Barbara Gittings’ death, she and Kay Tobin Lahusen had been together 46 years.

Best known for their revolutionary work with the Daughter of Bilitis’s publication, The Ladder, the two were true pioneers of the LGBT movement. Gittings became The Ladder’s editor in 1963, just five years after founding the group’s New York chapter. She was joined by Lahusen, a former Christian Science Monitor researcher, who became assistant editor and worked as what one historian called... Read more.

2006 Hall of Fame

In 1992, Marlon Riggs wrote about the questions the approaching 21st century raised. The challenges to the "cozy myths by which America has been ritually defined…In the next century, can we even continue to speak (could we ever?) of a collective 'we?'"

For the longest time, of course, these questions had simple answers: "America was white. America was male. America was heterosexual."

Through his work, Riggs sought not to redefine America but to illuminate what it truly was.... Read more.

2005 Hall of Fame

By the time a 56-year-old Leroy Aarons outed himself in an emotional address at the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) conference in 1990, he'd already had a remarkable journalism career as a longtime Washington Post scribe, co-founder of the Maynard Institute For Journalism Education and eventually as executive editor of the Oakland Tribune.
But in stepping into the limelight as a proud gay man, he turned himself into a pioneer and catalyst for hundreds of other gay, lesbian... Read more.

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin founded The Ladder, a legendary publication that, according to historian John D'Emilio, “offered American lesbians, for the first time in history, the opportunity to speak with their own voices.”
The two journalists, who also were — and still are — life partners, took the first of their many political stands as editors when they adopted the style of capitalizing the word “Lesbian” whenever it appeared. Their editorials, beginning with a series of rhetorical... Read more.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) was not particularly welcoming to its lesbian and gay members before Thomas Morgan III was elected as the association's president in 1989. Many doubted that they existed — sometimes openly referring to homosexuality as “a white thing” — while others adopted a “don't ask, don't tell” attitude.
That attitude left the black gay and lesbian members of the country's largest organization of journalists of color closeted — afraid to be... Read more.

Sarah Pettit's life was cut short in 2003 by lymphoma, but her work as a senior editor at Newsweek and a pioneer in gay media had a lasting impact. Pettit's emergence as a groundbreaking journalist began in 1989, when she became the arts editor for the now-defunct OutWeek, a New York gay and lesbian weekly that stirred national debates about ACT UP, gay rights activism and “outing” public figures.

In 1992, she and Michael Goff created Out magazine, the nation's first lifestyle... Read more.

Don Slater was a leader among the gay men who, in 1953, founded ONE magazine. Slater saw that act as essential to the effort to secure rights for gay men and lesbians.

A social movement has to have a voice beyond its own members,” he said. For the first time, ONE gave a voice to the "love that dare not speak its name." Nobody had ever done that. The magazine was the beginning of the movement.”

As the magazine's editor, Slater began one of his most significant contributions to... Read more.

The name Randy Shilts is inextricably linked with the modern AIDS epidemic. As a reporter for The Advocate and the San Francisco Chronicle and as the author of the 1987 book “And the Band Played On,” Randy spent the bulk of his career covering the disease that, sadly, took him from us at the young age of 42. His reporting helped dispel, if not end, America's prejudice and denial about this plague that has now claimed more half a million lives in the United States alone.

Like the gay... Read more.