‘Queer Celebrity: Challenges, Rewards, & Responsibilities of being Out in Media’

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Click here to email your RSVP with name and number of guests including yourself (no charge admission if you RSVP — $5 suggest donation at the door without RSVP [though no one will be turned away for lack of funds]).






present a live-discussion panel engagement

Thursday, November 2

‘Queer Celebrity: Challenges, Rewards, and Responsibilities of being Out in Media’


Actor-comedian, Jason Stuart

Journalist-activist, Ashlee Marie Preston

Celebrity Interviewer, Joel Martens

PLUS a very special surprise guest you won’t want to miss!


PALM SPRINGS, California—Join veteran journalist, Thom Senzee, founder-moderator of LGBTs In The News, as he welcomes a panel of media and entertainment professionals to the LGBT Community Center of the Desert for a candid, open discussion about the challenges and rewards that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer actors, reporters, anchors, and even reality-television stars, experience—as well as the responsibilities that come with being out of the closet and authentic in the media.

”Less than a year ago, it seemed that as people of gender and sexual diversity, we had on our sides real momentum toward winning full equality with our straight peers,” said Senzee, days before the next engagement of the live-discussion panel series, which originally launched in June, 2013 as the Supreme Court was striking down laws banning same-sex marriage.

“But we’re suddenly facing an anti-equality backlash,” Senzee continued. “Transgender people are losing their rights to serve in the nation’s military. Meanwhile LGBTQ workers have been made less safe by Donald Trump’s and Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice from being fired by employers who just don’t like our orientations or gender identities.”

He believes the topic of the upcoming panel engagement, which will include a conversation about what (if any) responsibilities famous LGBTQ people have to the wider community of gender and sexually diverse people.

“LGBTQ visibility in movies, on television and elsewhere in the media can be a powerful line of defense against the high-placed bigotry we’re seeing in Washington and in other powerful quarters these days,” he said.

The Thursday, November 2 engagement of LGBTs In The News, will be held at the LGBT Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, California. Panelists include actor-comedian Jason Stuart, recipient of the Jose Julio Sarria International Civil Rights Award.

“Ten years ago, I had a part in the film A Day Without a Mexican, about what would happen if one day all the Mexican people disappeared,” Stuart, the son of a Holocaust survivor, wrote in an article published earlier this year in The New York Jewish Week. “A few years later, I was cast in Love is Strange, about gay seniors, health care rights and gay marriage. Two years ago, I was in Tangerine, about a day in the life of two transgender working girls.”

But for Stuart, who cofounded and is co-chair of the Screen Actors Guild’s LGBT Actors Committee (LGBTs In The News’ most enduring visibility partner), the obligation of being an out, gay Hollywood celebrity is about more than accepting gay roles or appearing in films with queer characters.

“I feel that my deep-seated belief that all people — including African Americans, Latinos and the LGBT community deserve equal rights ­­­­— brought me these roles,” he continued. “As a double minority — I came out as gay in 1993 and being a child of a parent of the Holocaust — I developed a special connection to other minorities’ stories, which I try to bring to these roles.”

Stuart and Senzee believe that public figures who are LGBTQ and open about their sexuality, gender identities and gender expressions, offer human faces and relatable voices that can counteract a resurgent anti-equality movement seeking to dehumanize queer people.

“But we must act mindfully, with authenticity and, for some of us, with strategic intent,” Senzee said. “Every civil rights movement is judged under a magnifying glass. Ours is no different. We must be better than the forces of hate—better, kinder, smarter and more dignified.”

Jason Stuart has appeared in more films, television, web series’ and on more stages around the country and throughout the world than would be possible to name here. Among his recent credits are roles in the thriller Diverted Eden and the short film he directed and stars in, Like Father, plus 2016’s record-breaking Sundance independent film, The Birth of a Nation, along with his multitude of other titles, including Judd Apatow’s Love, Entourage and Mentor his streaming series on Amazon (also available on Revry).

Stuart’s fellow panelists include take-no-prisoners trans-rights activist, Ashlee Marie Preston, whose tenure as the nation’s first editor-in-chief of a national news-and-entertainment publication (Wear Your Voice magazine) who is transgender, made history.

Since then, Preston has skyrocketed to the national fore by vocally and boldly holding accountable at live events and in the media, LGBTQ celebrities, not least among them, Caitlyn Jenner, who bask in the comfort of safe spaces made that way by activists such as herself and many of her closest confidants—who then ally themselves with politicians actively engaged in trying to dismantle the equality our community has managed to achieve.

Preston is an inductee to The Root’s list of the 100 Most Influential African Americans of 2017 along with Beyoncé, Jordan Peele, Ana Duvernay, and Solange Knowles. Having been featured on NBC News, noted in the New York Times and asked to write a letter to her younger self by Logo’s NewNowNext, Preston put so much pressure on rapper Charlemagne Tha God after he joked on a radio show about assaulting trans women, that the recording star made a point of coming out strongly opposing violence against transgender people.

 Rounding out the panel is serial celebrity interviewer, Joel Martens, editor-in-chief of The Rage Monthly arts and entertainment magazine. A veteran of past LGBTs In The News panel engagements, Martens has a knack for landing interviews for which competitors scramble. Whether he’s quoting Meryl Streep or chatting on deadline and in depth with Cheyenne Jackson, Martens’ interviews have been the hallmark of the Los Angeles-Orange County and San Diego editions of The Rage Monthly for many years. Martens is well known for eliciting candor and intimacy from his interviewees.

“It may not be a stretch to call Joel Martens the Barbara Walters of LGBTQ media,” said Senzee. “That’s why we’re fortunate to have him on this panel about the challenges, rewards and responsibilities of queer celebrity.”

Having reported in and about the LGBTQ community for decades, LGBTs In The News founder, Thom Senzee understands that visibility, partnerships and celebrity are commodities that can be leveraged to win greater equality for more people on many fronts. A well established yet growing power for good on some of those fronts is the panel series’ newest community partner, AIDS Services Foundation Orange County, which has been working to achieve equal access to health care since 1985.

“We share Thom Senzee’s view that more dialogue is needed in the LGBT community about important issues. Foremost to us are the topics of health equity and the impact of health care disparities on members of the LGBT community,” said Phil Yaeger, Executive Director and CEO of AIDS Services Foundation Orange County. “Bringing influential members of our community together to address these issues and policies is more vital in today’s political and media environment than ever.”

LGBTs In The News with Thom Senzee presents “Queer Celebrity: Challenges, Rewards and Responsibilities of being Out in Media” Thursday, November 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert – 1301 North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs, CA 92262.

RSVP at lgbtsinthenews.com. Suggested $5 donation not required for admission. Proceeds benefit LGBTQ journalism scholarship funds.

The Los Angeles Press Club, SAG-AFTRA and LGBTs In The News present…

Exploring New Frontiers in LGBTQ Media

in an Age of Resistance and Backlash




Thursday Evening, July 27, 2017


rsvp, request more information at info@lgbtsinthenews.com


Panel of West Coast’s Leading LGBTQ Journalists, Columnists Discuss Future of Queer Media

L.A. Press Club’s Finale Event at Historic Steve Allen Theater Before Venue’s Demolition

”Exploring New Frontiers in LGBTQ Media
in an Age of Resistance and Backlash’

LOS ANGELES—LGBTs In The News with Thom Senzee and The Los Angeles Press Club present a panel of America’s most interesting and influential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media professionals gathering Thursday, July 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Steve Allen Theater for a live discussion and Q&A session titled, “Exploring New Frontiers in LGBTQ Media in an Age of Resistance and Backlash.”

The live-discussion series is sponsored by the SAG-AFTRA LGBT Actors Committee; and this engagement is made possible by The Los Angeles Press Club, Dr. Bronner’s, The Rage Monthly, and All4U Apparel.

Panelists include:

Neal Broverman, executive editor of The Advocate, a newsmagazine and website recognized as America’s foremost authority in serious, LGBTQ-focused journalism. Broverman is also a regular contributor to Los Angeles magazine. His writing has appeared in Curbed, the Los Angeles Times, Angeleno, and USA Today. The Advocate just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Ashlee Marie Preston, editor-in-chief of Wear Your Voice Magazine, is the first transgender person to be appointed editor-in-chief of a major publication. Preston has been featured by various media outlets including NBC, BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Vice, The Daily Dot, Mic, Upworthy, The Advocate/OUT Magazine(s), and PopSugar.

Karen Ocamb, veteran journalist and former CBS News producer. Ocamb was FrontiersLA’s news editor for many years and now works for the Los Angeles Blade.

Morgan M. Hurley, managing editor of San Diego Community News Network. Hurley is also editor of Gay San Diego and San Diego Downtown News newspapers. She helped launch the online-only San Diego Gay & Lesbian News (sdgln.com) site and served as its assistant editor. Hurley is a decorated veteran of the United States Navy and an inductee of the Benjamin F. Dillingham III LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor.

Vic Gerami, columnist for WeHo Times and manager of events for the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Formerly with the L.A. Weekly, Frontiers Magazine and Voice Media Group, Gerami is an LGBTQ activist and media contributor whose work has been featured in The Advocate, OUT, L.A. Independent, Edge Media Network, Queerty, The Rage Monthly and The Fight. In 2009, he was featured in the Wall Street Journal as a “Leading Gay Activist.” He was noted in the landmark Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges case, in which the Court held, in a 5–4 decision, that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples.

Joel Martens, editor-in-chief at The Rage Monthly magazine, which publishes Los Angeles and San Diego editions. Coming to media by way of design, his consulting work has been featured in magazines such as San Diego Home and Garden, Décor and Style. Martens has also made several television appearances, including on ABC-10, Fox Channel 6, and KUSI, as well as syndicated appearances on The Christopher Lowell Show and HGTV’s My First Home.

Moderated by LGBTs In The News founder and veteran journalist, Thom Senzee, the panel will look at how the queer media space has evolved from a time when readers of magazines like The Advocate appreciated their subscriptions arriving in plain, brown, unmarked envelopes in order to conceal their “controversial” content, to today when HereTV and Logo proudly cablecast LGBTQ programming into straight family rooms from Oshkosh, Neb. to Orange County, Calif.

“But the real thrust of this engagement of LGBTs In The News will be how the advent of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States and the empowerment of his largely LGBTQ equality-opposed base threatens to roll back recent gains for our community, and how that impacts our jobs as queer reporters, producers, editors and publishers,” Senzee said.

“With Neal Broverman’s eagle-eye view from the top of LGBTQ media, Ashlee Marie Preston’s unique perspective as a powerful woman of color in the media and a journalist who happens to be trans, Karen Ocamb’s wisdom, astute analytical powers and her experience, plus Morgan Hurley’s journalistic gusto and integrity, combined with Vic Gerami’s uniquely varied skill set and his passion, as well as Joel Marten’s talent and unmatched work ethic—this is a panel of LGBTQ media professionals who will not only lay out the task ahead, but also share ideas about how the LGBTQ press can continue delivering truth to power and comfort to the afflicted.”

Senzee thanks the Los Angeles Press Club, especially its executive director, Diana Ljungaeus, for being longtime supporters of LGBTs In The News and for pioneering and promoting equality in the mainstream media for LGBTQ journalists.

“When Diana told us we had the date saved and that ours would be the final event at the famed Steve Allen Theater, the L.A. Press Club’s longtime event venue and home, I was moved and humbled,” Senzee said. “Diana and the press club have been so kind and generous to the panel series and the LGBTQ community moreover for many years. I’m sorry to see the theater go, but excited to see where the frontier leads.”

Friday, May 19 at Urban Mo’s in San Diego ~ Featuring DALILA ALI RAJAH! Plus Dr. Heather Corliss, Ariel Vegosen and Blake Mitchell…

LGBTs In The News is a live-discussion panel series coming soon to a city near you.

With an accomplished panel of experts and equality advocates from the worlds entertainment, journalism, education and public health, the next engagement asks the provocative question: 

What if 80 Percent of the World is “Secretly Choosing” to be Straight?

To RSVP: Email the following information to info@lgbtsinthenews.com :

  1. Your name,
  2. Number of guests including yourself
  3. Any special needs (space for a wheelchair, ASL interpreter, etc.).

That’s it! We’re looking forward to welcoming you and your guests the evening of Friday, May 19 from 6-8 p.m.


If you can’t make it in person, here’s a link to watch via livestream (special thanks to Lukas, of Mo’s Universe / Urban Mo’s, one of our sponsors for the link):


Thanks to the following sponsors: drbronners.com | all4uapparel.com | rage monthly.com | sag-aftra.org | genderillumination.org | mosuniverse.com

LsITN-Bi-May 2017poster

Elgy Awards in '17, Trans Youth SOS

L-R: 2014 Elgy Award Recipient, Gloria Allred; Journalist, Thom Senzee; 2014 Elgy Honor Recipient, Erika Jayne

We’re working on the next two exciting engagements of LGBTs In The News (soon to be LGBTQs In The News!) with Thom Senzee—including the triennial presentation of the Elgy Award and the Elgy Honor, which will be presented in 2017 to two exceptional, deserving and too long-overlooked allies of the LGBTQ community.

In the meantime, if you’re an educator, clinician or otherwise qualified professional who works with or provides services to transgender or gender nonconforming children, youth or young adults, or if you are a parent or guardian of a trans or gender nonconforming child, please be sure to check out this important opportunity in February in southern California from Trans Family Support Services: 

A Comprehensive Approach to the Care of Gender Non-Conforming Children, Transgender Youth and Young Adults; a 2-Day educational symposium for professionals…


Panel of journalists, activists tackles outing, Russia, ENDA

Panel of journalists, activists tackles outing, Russia, ENDA

Post-discussion panel photo
Panelists included (left to right) Kevin Naff, Thom Senzee, Mandy Carter, Sarah Blazucki, Rob Smith, Adam Moore and Will Walters. (Photo courtesy of Thom Senzee)

Washington Blade coverage of the February 25, 2014 engagement of the LGBTs In The News panel series at the National Press Club

Panel of journalists, activists tackles outing, Russia, ENDA

Last week’s engagement at the National Press Club of the “LGBTs In The News” panel series, currently on a nationwide tour, revealed differences in opinion about the ethics of outing.

Comprised of leaders from the fields of journalism, entertainment and activism, the panel also shed light on the need for greater opportunities for LGBT actors and broadcast personalities and for better coverage of people of color at the front lines of the LGBT-equality movement.

Citing a landmark report his organization released last year, which was researched and compiled by the Williams Institute at UCLA, SAG-AFTRA’s national director of EEO and diversity, Adam Moore noted that the entertainment industry in the U.S. is the “most visible workplace on Earth,” and that as LGBT actors and media professionals gain parity in job opportunities, the entertainment industry and news business can lead by example as models of equal opportunity.

“We’ve already come a long way in our industries,” said Moore. “But you might be surprised how far we still have to go. This is an industry that is still run by a lot of very traditional, very conservative and highly risk-averse people at the top.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the controversy surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi vis-à-vis Russia’s anti-gay-propaganda law was, for all intents and purposes, only modestly grazed as a point of discussion during the panel.

However, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was a hot topic among the panelists.

“What I believe, and as Arizona Governor Jan Brewer learned recently, corporations that have already instituted non-discrimination policies for LGBT workers are inclined to put pressure on congress to pass ENDA,” said panelist Will Walters, whose civil rights education organization, FreeWillUSA is a major sponsor of the panel series. “Ironically, big business may force ENDA to a ‘yes’ vote in the long run.”

The discussion, which was also sponsored by the Washington Blade and SAG-AFTRA (formerly the Screen Actors Guild) and held in the National Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Room, soon turned to the enduring question of whether it is ethical for, or even incumbent upon, reporters to disclose secretly gay public figures’ sexual orientation.

“If you’re a private citizen with no public persona, that’s one thing,” Blade editor, Kevin Naff said. “However, there’s an entirely different set of rules that are specific to people in the public eye. They’ve chosen a path in the limelight and they are fair game—especially when they’re hurting other gay people and being hypocritical at the same time.”

According to Naff, ultimately it matters not whether a closeted public figure is hostile to the cause of LGBT equality.

“If they’re a public figure, reporting their sexual orientation is fair game,” he said. “If you’re in the public eye, this is part of what you signed up for.”

But author-activist and Iraq war veteran, Rob Smith disagreed.

“It’s not up to me to tell someone, even if they are against us publicly, ‘you’re going to be outed whether you like it or not,’” he said. “I’m sorry, but that’s not right; and it hurts us all in the long run.”

At least one other panelist, civil rights leader Mandy Carter, agreed with Smith.

“It can cause all kinds of damage in a person’s life to be outed, including loss of career and even suicide,” said Carter, who is co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition. “I’m not going to be the one to decide for you whether or not you should come out of the closet.”

Working with other individuals and organizations, not least among them, Walter Naegle, surviving partner of the late Bayard Rustin, Carter has been a key figure in helping increase awareness about Rustin’s role alongside civil rights activist, A. Philip Randolph as chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

There was consensus among all of the panelists about the importance of educating the world about Bayard Rustin, who was openly gay in the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and beyond, but who—despite being among Dr. King’s closest advisers—was kept out of the public eye as much as possible for fear that the Civil Rights movement might be “tarnished” by Rustin’s homosexuality.

All of the panelists agreed that passing ENDA was probably the most important goal the LGBT community has on its plate at the moment. Yet, each agreed that passage of ENDA in 2014 is all but impossible.

“I think 2015 looks a little more plausible,” said National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association vice president of print and online media, Sarah Blazucki.

The next “LGBTs In The News” panel will be in late spring in New York City and will feature the theme: “LGBTs and Our Allies: We couldn’t do it without you.”

“New York promises to be a decidedly star-studded panel, as we expect to have some of the music industry’s most illustrious LGBT allies and community members on the panel,” said series founder and panel moderator, Thom Senzee, a freelance journalist.

“Stay tuned for a major announcement about our confirmed panelists for the New York engagement of LGBTs In The News.”