Strange bed­fel­lows and good jeans

GA Voice - - Outspoken - BY PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­gavoice.com

“To my sur­prise, this would be one day the AFA and I were on the same page, be­cause the topic was the Amer­i­can Health Care Act and the var­i­ous hosts and call­ers were all strongly against it. I was against it for dif­fer­ent rea­sons of course, but it was an eerie feel­ing none­the­less.”

One of the things I like to do any time I’m mak­ing a road trip in the South is to scroll through the ra­dio dial to see what lo­cal sta­tions I pick up. I like find­ing out what kind of mu­sic is pop­u­lar in cer­tain ar­eas, and if I’m in a ru­ral area, that usu­ally means about as many coun­try sta­tions as I would ex­pect (a lot) and more hip-hop and R&B sta­tions than I would ex­pect.

But more in­ter­est­ing to me is pick­ing up broad­casts of ran­dom re­li­gious right sta­tions that I wouldn’t typ­i­cally get in At­lanta. Such was the case last week­end on my way down to Or­lando for the Na­tional Les­bian & Gay Journalists As­so­ci­a­tion’s (NLGJA) 2017 LGBT Me­dia Journalists Con­ven­ing when I picked up Amer­i­can Fam­ily Ra­dio, the of­fi­cial ra­dio sta­tion (that I did not know ex­isted) of the Amer­i­can Fam­ily As­so­ci­a­tion, the long­time anti-LGBT hate group.

To my sur­prise, this would be one day the AFA and I were on the same page, be­cause the topic was the Amer­i­can Health Care Act and the var­i­ous hosts and call­ers were all strongly against it. I was against it for dif­fer­ent rea­sons of course, but it was an eerie feel­ing none­the­less.

But there was still enough big­oted venom be­ing thrown in there in one form or an­other, so after an hour or so of that, I flipped through the dial and was cleansed by the sooth­ing sound of Audie Cor­nish’s voice on NPR’s “All Things Con­sid­ered.”

Pres­i­dent Trump and the Repub­li­cans would bail on the health­care bill the fol­low­ing day of course, some­thing I found out about dur­ing one of the many worth­while panel dis­cus­sions at the NLGJA event.

On a lunch break dur­ing Satur­day’s ses­sion, I ended up sit­ting next to Matt Fore­man, se­nior pro­gram di­rec­tor of the Eve­lyn & Wal­ter Haas, Jr. Fund – the pri­mary fun­ders be­hind the event. Fore­man is in charge of the Fund’s sup­port for LGBT rights, one of three causes the Fund sup­ports along with im­mi­gra­tion rights and ed­u­ca­tion eq­uity.

I was cu­ri­ous what drove the Haas fam­ily to sup­port LGBT rights. Was a son or other fam­ily mem­ber gay? It turns out that wasn’t the rea­son. Wal­ter Haas, who died in 1995, was best known as pres­i­dent and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., which is based in San Fran­cisco. Haas and his fam­ily had a front row seat to the dev­as­ta­tion caused by HIV/AIDS start­ing in the 1980s and they were moved to take ac­tion in sup­port of the LGBT com­mu­nity in re­sponse. And that sup­port con­tin­ues to this day with events like the Journalists Con­ven­ing.

I have nu­mer­ous take­aways from the event, most of which would bore you to tears be­cause they’re about the journalism process, but hope­fully you’ll no­tice some new things in our cover­age com­ing up soon that are di­rectly a re­sult of the Journalists Con­ven­ing.

Mean­while, we’ve got a 20-page pull-out sec­tion for our an­nual Wed­ding Is­sue for you. Take in the tips and trends and en­joy!

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