50 Bloggers Walk Into a Room . . .

I spent the weekend, as some of you know, at the National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative Summit (NLGBTBCJIS?) It was an amazing weekend, the best part of which was meeting many of the bloggers I knew only by name and reputation. The Bilerico gang, including co-owners Bil and Jerame, Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend, along with Blenders Autumn, Damien, and Terrance; Jeremy Hooper of Good As You, Wayne Besen, Matt Comer, Joe Jervis of Joe. My. God., Helen Boyd of My Husband Betty, Nan Hunter of Hunter for Justice, Adele Sakler of Existential Punk, and many others whom I’m sure I’m forgetting, not to mention our host with the most, Mike Rogers.

We had the pleasure of watching a screening of Milk Friday night, with an introduction by Rep. Tammy Baldwin and a panel discussion afterwards with Harvey Milk’s former intern and founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, Cleve Jones, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and producer Bruce Cohen. You should get the kids a sitter as soon as Milk comes to your town, and go see it. (Bring the kids if they are teens. The assassinations make it unsuitable for the younger set.) Aside from the important dose of LGBT history it conveys, it is a great film by any measure. Sean Penn does an amazing job and the rest of the cast is terrific, too.

Saturday and Sunday were for workshops and networking. Bil of Bilerico chaired the panel I was on (along with Todd Heywood of Michigan Messenger, Zack Rosen of The New Gay, and Adam Bink of Open Left), and we all shared experiences and tips about running group blogs and blogging events. Alex at Bilerico has a good summary of the panel on Prop 8. Pam has covered a number of the Sunday workshops, including a thought-provoking one by Tim McFeeley, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute Director, on the history of the LGBT movement and how we might think about our messaging in the future. She also covered the excellent presentations by expert media trainer Joel Silberman and PR professional Cathy Renna.

We had lunch on Saturday with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which was having its own conference at the nearby Mayflower Hotel, of Eliot Spitzer fame. (That’s where I got the great Barney Frank quote I posted earlier.) It was pretty amazing to walk into a room filled with hundreds of LGBT elected officials, potential officials, and campaign workers, especially after seeing the beginnings of the LGBT movement via Harvey Milk’s story the night before.

I will be incorporating thoughts and ideas from the conference in future posts and articles, so I’m not going to go on at length about them at the moment. I will say, though, that with mainstream media facing enormous economic problems, I think bloggers and other alternative news sources will become even more important as a whole. The LGBT movement will definitely benefit by tapping into this trend. Many thanks to Mike for organizing the event (and to the sponsors for believing in it), and for inviting me to take part.