Over the past few days I spent some time pestering John Aravosis over his decision to appear alongside Washington Blade columnist Jeff Gannon on an Equality Forum panel in Philly on the topic of gay media and blogging (Pam Spaulding was also set to appear). Putting Gannon, a disgraced former "journalist" and Washington Blade columnist who's shown the policy grasp of a preteen, on a panel discussing any gay issues whatsoever is, at best, a shameless attempt to create controversy by sticking a sideshow act on the panel. Worse, it's an attempt to legitimize a writer -- and I use that noun very loosely here -- who has shown repeated contempt for the gay community (that is, if you can get past his leaden attempts at prose).
As I wrote to John:
I freely admit that it's amusing and advantageous for me, in some ways, to have Gannon parading around the country as a "Washington Blade columnist." But schadenfreude aside, it truly disturbs me to see the active legitimization of Gannon -- whose vitriol for all things gay* and enormous capacity for self-imposed victimhood are truly vile -- as a "blogger" or a "journalist." And that's what these types of panels do -- they legitimize, they lower the bar, they acclimate people to presence of the pernicious, and they inevitably create a situation in which Gannon (or someone like him) is considered a source of legitimate commentary on GLBT issues.
It's pretty much an American birthright to reinvent yourself. It's not, however, our responsibility as prominent people in the GLBT community to actively support that reinvention.
Anyway, John and Pam both late in the week pulled out of the panel because the moderator had decided that discussing the "Gannon-gate" controversy would distract from important issues. That's like inviting a bearded lady to sit on a panel discussing circus freaks, then declaring discussion of beards off-limits. It's good to see this farce in the making nipped in the bud.
*I suppose I should clarify that Washington Blade columnist Jeff Gannon has vitriol for all things gay, with the exception of checks from Blade editor Chris Crain.