Hello QueerWorld! It’s Orie your co-host and News Director, Orie.
For this coming up post, I’d like to write a bit differently. Bear with me.
I can’t believe it’s been a year. When I sat with Dwayne at Olde Towne Tavern to talk about QueerMinded in May of 2014, I didn’t know exactly what that next year would bring. I’d always had a dream to do a show like QM, something focused on issues important to LGBTQ people, lifting voices of those seldom heard (lawd jesus I sound like Barbara Walters…) Reporting news that mattered to our community. It was kismet that this show came along, and I’m thankful for Dwayne and Deo for entrusting me with it.
Our first show was rocky. We tackled Marriage Equality. Oddly, that subject is one of our forefront (but certainly not our only, don’t get it twisted) issues today. We’re currently waiting in front of our internet-driven devices with SCOTUSblog on the ready, waiting for this very Thursday or Friday to tell us, once and for all, that the United States of America recognizes our love just like we do…regardless that it’s made up of two men or two women. It was the first (and last) show of my friend and colleague Jillian Eugenios, who is a big-time reporter at CNN money and had to dedicate herself to that full-time. It was also the on-air hosting debut of my co-host SaRea Surmon. You wouldn’t know it now, but SaRea had never been on the air before as a host…and really never reported as a journalist. Now, she might as well have a degree.
As a journalist, I made a couple of mistakes in that show. I completely botched an interview subject’s name. Not once, but multiple times. In J-School that would get you an auto-fail, and I beat myself up about it for weeks to come (and instituted a rundown and scripting protocol thereafter). And after the show aired I got a very polite but disappointed email about it from the guest (for which I absolutely am not mad at all, and understand completely where she was coming from) You see, it was my first day on the job, too. I’d been on the air several times before in my long relationship with the airwaves – but this time was remarkably different. QueerMinded was mine, now. It’s like when you’re the name under the Nightly News banner…it’s a wonderful, pressure-filled and powerful responsibility that anyone who is in news doesn’t take lightly. When you put your name on something, you stand by it, you represent it and it represents you. And for the first time, that name was mine. On a whole freaking show. That was just the beginning of what was to come, and you realize that from Day 1, every day is a learning opportunity and an opportunity to make mistakes.
As I listen back to that show, which is posted for you all to hear below., as News Director and that name on the show I can’t help but to think back over the past year on all the mispronounced names, missed cues, botched taped interviews, bad news reads, miswritten facts, poorly asked questions, horrible sound, dead air, interviews that ran too long, guests that could have been a bit more engaging and you might think that well…we have a lot to learn. And we do, we always do, and we will do as long as we air. But, I also think about what we did do – we discussed issues that you don’t hear about on Nightly News…at least,not until recently. We covered issues in the trans* community before Caitlyn( but not as well as we could have or should have, we humbly admit), we discussed race and identity not as a blight but as a point of pride. We interviewed people across the country and around the world. We traveled to the Gay Games and reported on-scene. We explored all of the letters of our community with an open, honest wish to provide our community with a voice to tell their stories. We laughed, we cried, we drank a lot of whiskey and gin (shoutout to Dani at Olde Towne!), but we managed to put shows on the air that reflected stories and uplifted voices of Queer People of Color across the globe. And we provided a platform for queer people to share their thoughts, opinions, voices and views. What an amazing thing?!
It was a big queer news year, too. Kicking off with Windsor, and all of the federal and state court decisions that would follow. Plus the instances of injustice big and small that were near and far, from unjust laws, to vicious attacks. Countless LGBTQ people across the world have faced violence, discrimination, or even lost their lives. But there were victories, too. Laws are changing. Attitudes are changing. Same-sex marriage is legal in more states and countries now than ever before. And more people are speaking out, telling their stories and identifying the aspects of our society where more work needs to be done. Some of us are still asleep; but, it’s not because those of us who have awoken aren’t screaming.
Our official anniversary was last week, when we celebrated Columbus Pride. For us that was a moment of pure magic and joy, a culmination of our efforts over the year and a representation of how far we’ve come – oh yea, in case you didn’t know, it rained like a monsoon and completely washed everything out. We marched anyway, and we saw so many wonderful people lining the streets. Our QueerMinded team (Yes, after a year, we have a whole team! more like a basketball team than a football team, but a team nonetheless!) were complete troupers hanging out in the rain, walking down the streets and waving and greeting the crowds. James and I took selfies with as many people as we could, especially QPOCs along the parade route. It was truly spectacular, and I can’t thank everyone enough. Special shoutout’s to James’ mom Ms Sherri, who brought us ponchos and marched right along side with us, rain and all…she even helped pass out cards and took selfies’ too. This was true pride…also, step 2, “Ignore Adversity,” but I digress.
But, it wouldn’t be all soggy rainbows and puddles of glitter…that same very day we saw the beauty of Columbus, we saw the ugly. I won’t go into too much specifics, but intimate partner violence was involved between a neighbor couple, and when members of my team tried to intervene, they were referred to as “niggers” and “faggots”. We just left the damn parade, and immediately there after racism, homophobia, anti-blackness and anti-queerness are thrown in our helpful faces. Again, we wouldn’t let it get the best of us…and we decided to do the gayest and blackest thing we knew how – a bunch of grown-ass men played double dutch in the street, just steps away from their front door. Bye, Felicia.
All of this is to say that I know how far we’ve come, both as a show and a society. But we have so much work to do, I need that football team. (Note, if you want to help make QueerMinded happen and join our volunteer team, let me know what you can do). Trans* women of color are dying around the world and we need to talk about to people who may not hear about it, and lift our trans* sister’s voices and silence our own so they can tell their stories. We need to lift more voices from our smaller ethnic and racial queer communities of color…we want to hear your voices, and we will work to bring your stories to our platform.
QueerMinded isn’t just about news and information, it’s about promoting a safe space for our identities, and a platform for our ideas. It’s about sharing our voices, and informing each other about both our diverse and collective experience. It’s about establishing our place on the map, and providing a venue for those who come after us to know that who they are is no accident, no shameful secret and no phase to be dealt with or prayed away. It’s so that anyone with an internet connection who is LGBTQ and a person of color, or allies with LGBTQ people of color can find a place on the web where people talk like them, sound like them and discuss things that are relevant to them – as well as help to open eyes to new things outside of our daily experience. We are at the beginning of something great, and I hope you’ll continue with us for another year and beyond.
To all our team, past and present, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do – SaRea (my partner in this adventure, the gin to my whisky, the first one that was like ‘I’m down for the whatever, let’s do it’), James ( My voice of the people, the one who will always do the most no matter what) and his partner Daniel (our gracious host and benefactor!) Jillian, Brandon & and all our guest co-hosts, guests and supporters, we really could not have done all of this without each and every one of you. Here’s to another year, all the awesomeness to come, and 365 more days of living courageously!
Finally, if you’ve managed to read along this far – make sure to take part in our show. You’re a welcomed contributor to QueerMinded. Email us, message us on social media, send us a message on our website…let us know you’re listening and what you think. Who knows, we might ask you to come on the air and share your story, because you’re exactly who we want to hear from.
Join us live for the celebration 8/7c on TalktainmentRadio Thursday, or in podcast anytime the following weekend.