As a writer and critic, you work every day hoping that your words make an impact and your stories connect with people. The blog at Bella Books is a smaller outlet, but we have a lot of heart, and that’s always been the priority. So when I received an invitation to the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association and LGBT Media convening, I was totally blown away. After working in this industry for nearly seven years, and running the blog for two, it was a validation I didn’t even realize I needed. To also have Bella recognized was so wonderful, as we’ve put a lot of hard work into the site, which aims to elevate the voices of authors, creators and projects that matter to our community. So my invitation to Palm Springs was right there in my inbox and I knew I had to go.
For a little background, the LGBT Media Convening, which is sponsored by the Arcus Foundation and the Haas Jr Fund, has been happening now for nearly a decade and was created to acknowledge and bring together those who work in the LGBTQ sphere, and for outlets that are traditionally online. There were about fifty of us attending, and we ranged from political reporters, to advocacy writers to entertainment critics (like me!). The convening took part at the same time as the NLGJA, which brought in around three hundred and fifty LGBTQ writers and reporters from all over the country. As part of the convening, we were able to take part in some of the main convention events, as well as all social events.
Having the opportunity to meet with and talk about the current climate and the unique challenges and rewards of LGBTQ focused reporting was invaluable. We had wonderful plenary sessions and talks from folks like activist Kei Williams who was a founding member of Black Lives Matter Global Network and talked about initiatives like the #SwipeItForward program. Bethany Grace Howe, who was our fearless moderator, shared her important on-going research on Transgender Identity Defense-Related emotions. Slate’s Bryan Lowder did a quick but informative presentation on themed-issues, and gave me some great inspiration for a future Bella blog project.
Have the chance to convene with these brilliant minds and also share what we’ve been doing here at Bella was invaluable and I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to attend. Palm Springs is beautiful (and HOT) and I hope to get the chance to attend next year’s convening in New Orleans, and bring even more inspiration home with me and to the blog at Bella Books.