When News Makes News

Why, a bar owner asked me, would I write another article about Georgie’s Alibi, being sued?

“What did they ever do to you,” he said.

The answer is they did nothing to me, but they made news by getting sued, just as a prominent gay investor in another local paper made news this past week by getting arrested for involuntary manslaughter. Yes, he is a very nice man, but he is accused of doing a very bad thing. It is news, unfortunate, but news nevertheless.

In her lifetime, Elizabeth Taylor did many great things for AMFAR and ever so much more as an HIV activist. She is appropriately remembered and celebrated for those efforts. Still, she made the news not only when she had million dollar weddings, but when she had revealing divorces.

A legitimate newspaper does not control or cover up the news. It reports it, good or bad. We are not here to showcase cocktails and do theater reviews alone. We are here to report our lives, illuminate our successes, and open up to our difficulties, as we did last week in reporting about male on male sexual assault.

Last year, we reported that two gay men were murdered in Wilton Manors. This week, we report their alleged killer has been indicted. We are a newspaper, and while we can salute the Stars of the Rainbow and celebrate pride festivals, we cannot ignore our wounds and our warts.

Last year, Stonewall Pride went broke, leaving enormous debts in their wake. Pride South Florida had to deal with its treasurer getting arrested for grand theft, and he is awaiting trial. And if the present members of the board feud with the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, it becomes news you deserve to read about. Some reader commented that the newspaper is doing a disservice to our community by ‘washing our dirty linen in public.’ We are, because cleanliness is the best disinfectant and new is news.

This community has lived an illusion too long. We are not as noble as we think we are, not as perfect as we make ourselves out to be. There is fraud and misfortune in the gay community, drug abuse that cannot be ignored, and misdeeds that can not go unnoticed.

What makes dozens of gay people think they can go on an international cruise ship carrying hundreds of party drugs and not be subject to the same laws as anyone else? Do we want to live with equal rights or delusional wrongs?

Just because some group says they are opening a hotel resort, the local newspaper should not be drooling over it and saying, “Oh, G!” It is time to look to see if there is beef behind the breeze. You can’t just buy into celebratory press releases. You have to invest into reporting that uncovers the unpleasant truths. We reported about the grand opening of the very gay ‘Fabulis.com’ last year, but next month we may be reporting about frustrated investors suing over its sudden shut down this year.

Last week, we had to report about a local gay salesman getting arrested for fraud, but he has only been charged, not convicted. Last year, we reported that realtor Denny Hughes was arrested for fraud, too. But we can now also report that all charges against him were eventually dropped. That is a follow up we owe him and you deserve to read about.

If you are going to be a newspaper, you have to tell the news. If you want to live your life based on fact, not fluff, then it will be up to you to support the journals that own up to both the pain and the promise of the LGBT community.

This week Gilead has a full-page ad in our newspaper about a new drug they are offering HIV patients. The AHF Foundation, on another page, criticizes the first sponsor. They do not see eye-to-eye. At least in a free and democratic society we do not have to duke it out fist-to-fist. They are both welcome to have a voice in our paper, a right to be seen, a right to be heard.

In a newspaper, we can debate these issues intelligently, discuss them rationally, and use our pages to create an emerging dialogue that may lead to a mutual resolution. Or maybe everyone winds up agreeing to disagree.

The Pride Center at Equality Park honors this newspaper this weekend by presenting us with a Media Award for being a ‘Star of the Rainbow.’ We accept the award graciously, but we are not here for awards. The GLCC deserves an award for showcasing our community with pride and dignity and a professional executive director, who was himself generously honored this past weekend by Lambda Legal, an organization distinguished in its own right.

We are here to be a community newspaper that is the voice for our community, and we hope the words we publish can shine more light then they do darkness upon our lives. For that to happen, we each have to do a little better, care a little bit more, and reach for the goodness we are all capable of living. Let’s make that commitment together. Let’s make ourselves proud of our pride.


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