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Raquel Willis makes OUT history as first trans executive editor

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Raquel Willis (Photo by Kristina Ashley Williams)

Two months after the LGBT media world exploded with questions about whether the straight new Pride Media owner of The Advocate and OUT would care about the magazines’ long LGBT legacy, OUT hired black transgender social justice activist and writer Raquel Willis as Executive Editor.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this team and be a part of this new crew of queer and trans people who wanna shake things up, and bring in more color along with new perspectives,” Willis told ESSENCE magazine, itself a legacy publication for African American women, first published in 1970.

OUT first started publishing in 1992, a more long-form life-style approach compared to its friskier news reporting and news-generating companion, The Advocate. Over the past several pre-Trump years, news shifted more online and The Advocate magazine slipped into a package deal with the more popular OUT.

But Willis’ hire signals a shift at OUT, too, initiated by out Nathan Coyle, Chief Executive Officer at Pride Media and OUT Editor-in-chief Phillip Picardi.

“We are thrilled with this new addition to Phillip’s team at OUT,” Coyle tells the Los Angeles Blade.

“I’m not sure if Raquel is the first black trans woman as executive editor at a major LGBTQ+ publication,” Picardi tells the Los Angeles Blade. “I do believe that she is the first at OUT, which is both exciting and a shame, as these things go. Any time a ‘first’ is happening still in 2018, it tastes a little bittersweet — happy because it’s finally happened, sad because it took so long.”

Picardi first heard about Willis through Meredith Talusan, a friend and trusted confidante who helped him launch and gave him editorial direction with Conde Nast’s LGBT publication he founded called them , where she was executive editor. “I value her opinion immensely,” he says. “Meredith immediately let me know that Raquel would be a good choice (for his second-in-command), especially because her experience in social justice work would help expand OUT’s editorial direction beyond just fashion and entertainment into the things I helped make Teen Vogue and them known for — politics, identity, wellness, and the like.”

Willis was an engaged activist/writer/organizer in Oakland, California confronting issues such as police brutality and the rights of sex workers—which led to speaking at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington DC—so apparently it took a bit before she decided to move across country to OUT’s headquarters on St. John’s Lane in New York City. But she made the move and has already started making in-roads, with her first speaking gig for the Time’s Up movement with Cindi Leive, Picardi’s former colleague and the former editor-in-chief of Glamour.

Raquel Willis (Photo by Kristina Ashley Williams)

“I’m excited to bring my full self into this publication,” Willis told Essence. “And I know that my team is excited to do that as well. They’re all from a variety of different backgrounds, so it’s already been exhilarating to be in conversation with them and hear their thoughts and hear their commitment to building a more inclusive space for our people.”

Picardi says he is “thrilled” to have Willis on the team and explains that she will be “contributing regularly to digital — she’ll run her own column, edit pieces that involve political and social justice topics, and expand upon her print pieces online. Her primary focus, though, will be as my key decision-maker on print for OUT and OUT Traveler — she’ll help with the run of book, cover decisions, issue themes, and top edits every piece of text that appears in each issue.”

Willis—a “Georgia girl through and through”—has the background of a mainstream journalist, but says that “was difficult because I couldn’t tell full truths,” so she shifted into activism, which also shifted her perspective—including serving as a communications associate for the Transgender Law Center.

“When you think of journalism, particularly the state of journalism now, we are seeing a falling away of this idea that people creating media or curating media are simply observing. It’s just not true. Many of us are living it as well,” Willis told Essence. “That means owning that we aren’t just outside of the story. Owning that we have to have a conscience around how we tell stories and which stories we tell, and even which stories we ignore.”

This injection of fresh conscience-fueled activist journalism into a magazine once presumed to be geared to white rich gay men should be interesting—and enlightening.

“To me, this is really not about me, but it’s about the people that I am committed to,” Willis told Essence. “I am deeply committed to the Black trans community, I’m committed to trans and nonconformity community. I’m committed to the LGBTQ community in all of the ways that it exists.”

 

 

 

 

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Anti-LGBTQ activist Judith Reisman dies at age 86

There was the time she appeared on the Liberty Counsel’s radio show to declare that all gays are inherent pedophiles

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Screenshot via JoeMyGod

Editor’s note: Judith Ann Reisman was a vocal opponent of women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and known for her criticism and condemnation of the work in sexual studies of Dr. Alfred Kinsey. Reisman, a prominent conservative, has been referred to as the “founder of the modern anti-Kinsey movement.”  New York-based LGBTQ journalist, activist and blogger Joe Jervis covered her for over a decade on his widely popular blogsite Joe.My.God.

By Joe Jervis | Longtime JMG readers will recall Reisman’s anti-LGBT claims as a regular feature here going back a decade or so. There was the time she appeared on the Liberty Counsel’s radio show to declare that all gays are inherent pedophiles:

We know that pedophilia, which was the original Greek they say it’s ‘love of’ but of course it isn’t, it’s ‘lust for’ boys. And there’s a strong, clear, cross-cultural, historical reality, people don’t want to do deal with, but the propaganda has been loud and strong to deny the fact, the aim of homosexual males and now increasingly females is not to have sex with other old guys and get married but to obtain sex with as many boys as possible. That’s the reality.

There was the time she called for a class action suit against groups that advocate for safer sex:

The reality is that condoms are manufactured and approved every day for natural, vaginal sex, not anal “sex.” They are not effectively designed to protect from disease those people who engage in sodomy. Such a lawsuit should target the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Planned Parenthood and a myriad of teachers and school systems, too many to count, that have taught that anal “sex” (traditionally termed “sodomy” or “buggery” under British-based legal codes) as not so different than natural coitus. Due to the lies that have told, people who practiced sodomy are under the tragically mistaken notion that a condom is effective protection from disease.

There was the time she went to Jamaica to advocate for keeping homosexuality criminalized:

American Religious Right leaders Mat Staver and Judith Reisman are scheduled to be featured speakers at a conference in Jamaica this weekend hosted by a group that has been working to preserve the country’s criminal ban on consensual gay sex. The annual conference, hosted by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, will focus on how “[c]ontemporary society has become increasingly hostile to the traditional definitions of marriage and family” and Staver.

There was the time she blamed the demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on a rise in reported sexual assaults in the military:

Why is the best-kept military secret that most soldierly sexual assaults are now definitively homo, not heterosexual, male-on-male sexual exploitation? While men are statistically more loathe to report their sexual victimization than are women, 10,700 male soldiers, sailors and airmen in 2010 actually reported their sexual assaults. What this means is not totally clear, since men are cannot technically be raped, despite the term being regularly used in the recent hearings on the matter.

There was the time she compared activists against school bullying to Hitler Youth:

Both the GLSEN youth and the Hitler Youth were trained to be revolutionary leaders of the brave new world order. GLSEN school clubs and their teacher sponsor/trainers are now funded by major corporations and by some state funds. GLESN’s Day of Silence and “GAY ALLY!” pledge cards for kindergartners and other children (left) are direct assaults on traditional parental, American values. German children’s literature historians document Hitler’s pioneering ban of both the Ten Commandments and biblical stories from Nazi school texts in favor of coarse and violent tales that ridiculed religious believers and their values.

There was the time she was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League:

Holocaust analogies generate headlines and get attention, they do little in the service of truth, history or memory. When [Peter] LaBarbera and Reisman suggest that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are “demonizing [Christians] like the Nazis used to do to the Jews,” they undermine the historical truth of the Holocaust as a singular event in human history that led to the murder of six million Jews and millions of others. Holocaust comparisons are deeply offensive and trivialize and distort the history and meaning of the Holocaust.

And let’s close with this notation from Rational Wiki:

Reisman is a supporter of Scott Lively and his completely insane screed, The Pink Swastika. She has claimed that she believes that a homosexual movement in Germany gave rise to the Nazi Party and the Holocaust. She enthusiastically and unconditionally endorses criminalization of homosexuality, despite the fact that homosexuals were were one of the Nazis’ target groups for annihilation. Reisman has claimed that the homosexuals employ recruitment techniques that rival those of the United States Marine Corps to transform innocent children into raving homosexuals.

Reisman, passed away on Friday, April 9, 2021, two days before her 86th birthday. From the magazine of the far-right John Birch Society:

Like Judith the Biblical heroine, Dr. Reisman was fearless and stood against the great powers of the world in our time. When her countrymen were ready to surrender to the mighty Assyrian army, the Biblical Judith, trusting in God, walked into the enemy camp — and walked out with the head of Holofernes, the Assyrian general, thus saving her people. Likewise, Judith Reisman repeatedly, over the past several decades, strode into many hostile enemy camps around the world — colleges, universities, legislative bodies, media outlets — to speak truth to power and to expose vile works of darkness.

Joseph “Joe” Jervis  is an American blogger and writer based out of New York City. He is the author of Joe.My.God., a personal blog which, since he first posted on April 27, 2004, has primarily covered LGBT news and opinion.

The preceding article was originally published at Joe.My.God and republished by permission.

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The Bay Area Reporter turns 50- Congrats from the Los Angeles Blade

The Los Angeles Blade congratulates the publisher, editor, and staff of the The Bay Area Reporter on its Golden Anniversary

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SAN FRANCISCO – An important and critical voice for the LGBTQ+ community in Northern California turns 50 this Spring as the venerable LGBTQ+ newspaper, The Bay Area Reporter, commences its fifth decade of service to San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.

Not unlike the beginnings of the Los Angeles Blade’s sister publication, The Washington Blade, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019, the Bay Area Reporter traces its roots to an ad hoc distribution- in B.A.R.’s case atop cigarette machines in the city’s gay and lesbian watering holes.

Since then according to Michael Yamashita, a gay man who has been the paper’s publisher since 2013, the paper has never missed an issue deadline — not even when threatened by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

The Los Angeles Blade congratulates the publisher, editor, and staff of the The Bay Area Reporter on its Golden Anniversary of service to the LGBTQ+ community.

Read B.A.R.’s own coverage of its 50th here: https://www.ebar.com/index.php?id=303476

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S.F. Jewish and LGBTQ icon Al Baum dies at 90 after ‘full, rich life’

You have to be willing to do it yourself or you’re just being hypocritical

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Al Baum, seen here at Miller’s Deli in San Francisco, died March 28 at the age of 90.
(Photo/Rajat Dutta)

By Maya Mirsky | SAN FRANCISCO – Alvin H. Baum Jr., a philanthropist and activist known as Al to his friends and admirers, died March 28 at home in San Francisco. He was 90.

“Al lived a full, rich life,” his husband, Robert Holgate, told J. “Through his example of giving, he taught many how to live, love and give back,”

As a philanthropist, Baum was a generous donor to Jewish and LGBTQ causes, the arts, civil liberties, and a host of other causes and interests. In 2019, the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation awarded Baum its Robert Sinton Award for Distinguished Leadership, and a J. profile at the time painted a full picture of his background and his longtime activism on multiple fronts.

Born into an affluent Jewish family at the height of the Great Depression, Baum grew up mostly in Highland Park, which in the 1930s was emerging as one of Chicago’s most prosperous Jewish-identified suburbs. He went to Harvard University as an undergrad and again for law school, then spent two years in the Army, in Berlin, during the Korean War.

Al Baum (right) with husband Robert Holgate in 2014.

Upon his return, he visited San Francisco to see how he liked it; at the time, he was living his life as a closeted gay man. He came out publicly in 1975, when he was in his 40s and living in San Francisco. It was a momentous step and not really planned.

“You know they say, ‘When you’re drowning, your whole life passes before your eyes?’” he said in an interview with OUTWORDS, an LGBTQ history archive, in 2017. “Well, it was like that. But I had been telling people, friends, that they should come out. And I wasn’t. I said to myself, ‘You have to be willing to do it yourself or you’re just being hypocritical.’”

From there he became an activist, working with the ACLU and Lambda Legal and many other organizations. Also, he worked as a city planner and attorney for many years and then, late in life, began a third career as a therapist, getting a degree from UC Berkeley in social work. In later years, with his husband, whom he married in 2014, he devoted himself to philanthropy.

Baum served on the boards of many organizations, including S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the ACLU of Northern California, and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. He also founded the Federation’s gay and lesbian task affinity group. He was a founding member of the New Israel Fund, and has been an active supporter of LGBTQ senior organization Openhouse. In 2014, he served as grand marshal of the San Francisco Pride Parade, accompanied by Holgate.

Baum was a longtime member of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco. Holgate said details of a celebration of Baum’s life and a shiva would be forthcoming.

Al Baum as S.F. Pride Parade grand marshal in 2013. (Photo/Lisa Finkelstein)

Maya Mirsky is a staff writer for J. The Jewish News of Northern California and is based in Oakland.

The preceding article was published by J. The Jewish News of Northern California and was republished by permission.

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