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NLGJA hosts "Coming Home" conference, marks 25 years
Videos below
by Tracy Baim

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CNN's Richard Quest interviewed The Weather Channel's Sam Champion on the opening night of NLGJA's national convention Sept. 3 at San Francisco's Westin Hotel.

NLGJA, the association of LGBT journalists, is marking its 25th anniversary this year. Many attendees paid tribute to Leroy F. Aarons, NLGJA founder and pioneering openly gay journalist and editor.

The first day of the conference featured a series of workshops and plenaries for the LGBT Media Summit, which I co-chaired again this year.

The Summit included emotional and provocative presentations on faith (featuring Dr. Caitlin Ryan and panelists Rabbi Debra Kolodny, Mormon gay activist Mitch Mayne, Mormon mom Wendy Montgomery and moderator Cathy Renna); trans* elders reviewing misgendering issues (with the legendary Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Veronika Fimbres, Jamison Green and moderator Ashley Love); and parents of transgender children (including Michelle Honda, the daughter of Rep. Mike Honda, and the mother of a trans child).

Other Summit panels included one on HIV and AIDS coverage, with Jeff Berry, Olivia Ford, Oriol Gutierrez, the CDC's Dr. Eugene McCray, and moderator Diane Anderson-Minshall. Anderson-Minshall was also on the journalists-to-authors panel moderated by Jim Provenzano and featuring Katie Gilmartin, Michael Luongo and David Swatling. Award-winning filmmaker Jenni Olson joined with trans documentarian Andre Perez of Chicago for a discussion on documentary journalism. Camille Beredjick and Alana Penno discussed being younger journalists and activists. And at the close of the day I joined with Anderson-Minshall and her husband Jacob Anderson-Minshall along with Michael Flanagan of the Bay Area Reporter for a discussion on long-time LGBT media publishing.

That evening, Richard Quest was his usual provocative and charming self as he asked Sam Champion about coming out as gay, his professional career, climate change, the Kentucky clerk defying the U.S. Supreme Court, Good Morning America, Robin Roberts, marrying his partner, Speedos, and much more.

The opening plenary of the main NLGJA conference started with a discussion of what's next after marriage, with Kate Kendell, Kris Hayashi and Dennis Herraro.

The afternoon plenary was "Out" at the Top, with several longtime writers and editors, moderated by Linda Villarosa. I was very happy to be included among the esteemed panelists, including Kara Swisher of Re/Code, Maer Rosham, Kevin Sussums, Randy Lovely, Marcus Mabry, Brian Balthazar, Joe Cutbirth and Joseph Kapsch. Several workshops filled out the rest of the day.

The Friday night women's networking event, sponsored by Oakland Tourism, was grand, starting with a boat ride on the U.S.S. Potomac, Franklin D. Roosevelt's boat (and later Elvis Presley's).

Saturday kicked off with a discussion with three of this year's NLGJA Hall of Fame inductees, Charles Kaiser, Lou Chibbaro Jr., and Randy Alfred. Other inductees could not make the conference: Alison Bechdel, Alan Bell and Armistead Maupin. Moderator Kim Severson of The New York Times kept the conversation lively and very fun. I vote for her next career to be stand-up comedy.

Next up, Fiona Dawson moderated a wonderful panel, "Transgender: Ask Us Anything," with 18-year-old Ashton, Janet Halfin, Tiffany Woods and Jill Marcellus.

Another packed plenary was held during lunch, "Out" on the Air, with moderator Larry Gross. A bevy of gay men in broadcast (Stephen Gendel, Guy Benson, Mekhalo Medina, Michael Scotto, Kris Van Cleave and John Yang) was joined by transgender Colorado broadcaster Eden Lane.

Saturday also featured an author's cafe all afternoon, with journalists discussing their books. I was able to discuss my Barbara Gittings: Gay Pioneer book, around the same time Mark Segal, Kerry Eleveld, Jim Provenzano, Michael Luongo and David Swatling, among others, spoke.

One of the conference's final panels was a provoking discussion of "Life After the Newsroom" with former journalists Rose Arce, Linda Villarosa and Barbara Raab (also a former Chicagoan), moderated by Curtis Sparrer. The theme was appropriate, given than many of the 300 or so attendees at the conference were discussing trends in media, downsizing at major companies, and what career opportunities there will be in the future.

The close-out for the 25th anniversary conference was a Hall of Fame event where the six new inductees were honored. Other awards were presented at that event and throughout the conference, including the Sarah Pettit Memorial Award to Trish Bendix of AfterEllen and Journalist of the Year to J. Lester Feder of BuzzFeed.

The video playlist below contains multiple videos. Choose Playlist in the top left hand corner to watch videos out of order, if preferred.

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