Since today I’m traveling to Washington for the 2008 annual convention of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, I thought this might be a good time to explain what the group is and why I’m a dedicated member.
I’ve belonged to NLGJA since about 1994. Most of my gay friends in the media business I met through NLGJA–including some valuable and close relationships. Personally, my membership has never led to any new jobs–though I know many people for whom it has. But about a third of the freelance reporters (“stringers”) I use on OutQ News, as well as the substitute anchor I’m training right now, are people I met through the organization. All in all, it’s been the most fruitful group membership I’ve ever had.
I haven’t forgotten my responsibilities here. It’s just that last week was a total bear as we tried to push a special commemorating Sirius OutQ’s Fifth Anniversary out the door. The special, “Sirius OutQ News: Five Years in Review” debuts today, Monday, from 5-7pm EDT.
As the title suggests, it’s a 2 hour review of the biggest stories in LGBT News since Sirius OutQ went on the air on April 14, 2003: Same-sex marriage, gays in the military, gays in schools, the courts, Congress, state legislatures, religion and HIV/AIDS. It features the first-ever long-form reports by our correspondents around the U.S. and around the world (Many of whom are NLGJA members, by the way). Those keen to hear it but who don’t have a Sirius receiver can get a 3-day trial subscription at SiriusOutQ.com. Just look for the “Get a Free Online Trial” link at the right side of the page.
The special will repeat in the future, though the dates have not yet been set.
One of my first big schoolboy crushes was Tony Malliaris, back in middle school in Berkeley, California. I was a closeted gay nerd, he was the hot little Italian Greek stud on the M.L. King Junior Junior High campus. But he was always nice to me, which I appreciated a lot.
After 9th grade, my family moved to nearby Oakland. I changed schools and pretty much lost track of Tony. But about ten years ago, I was watching a TV documentary on HIV, and imagine my shock at seeing that my old crush was now a proud, loud, gay activist with ACTUP. I tried finding him online, but web searching was in its infancy and he did not appear in any results (I may also have been misspelling his name at that time, I’m not sure).
A couple of years ago, I just happened to randomly try again, and this time, he did turn up: He had, for an ACTUP event in 1990, composed and performed a rap called “Storm the NIH,” which had been captured on video, now posted online. It was a great little performance, and the rapper was definitely my old crush, still clearly recognizable all these years later. I tried looking up an email or phone number for Tony, but the rap video was the only reference to him online.
Skip ahead to tonight, when I happened to be watching a recent episode of the gay newsmagazine show In The Life on Tivo. There, in the background of a segment on Larry Kramer was the audio track from Tony’s rap. I was inspired to try again to see if I could track him down online.
I tried everything I could think of (and since I’m a trained researcher, I could think of a lot of ways to find someone), but there just wasn’t anything besides the 1990 rap performance. I didn’t want to pay for a full public records search, but the free part of those searches informed me that his full name was Antony Guy Malliaris.
You’re probably way ahead of me here. His full name was enough for me to take my search to its logical conclusion. I checked the Social Security Death Index, and there he was, of course. He had died in 1995, five years after the ACTUP rap, and just two years before the introduction of protease inhibitor medications that would probably have extended his life indefinitely — ironically, just the kind of drugs he so dramatically demanded access to in the rap.
So this is for you, Antony Malliaris. And for anybody who might search the web wondering what happened to the guy who performed that fantastic white-boy rap about AIDS drugs, or wondering what happened to their crush from way back when — because I’m quite sure I wasn’t the only guy with his heart tuned to Tony G’s frequency.
UPDATE: A little further investigation reveals that Malliaris is a Greek surname, not Italian as I had surmised.
My job occasionally calls for research into a gay cultural topic. My first go-to source is always glbtq.com. This site bills itself as “the largest Web site devoted to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (glbtq) education and culture, (housing) the largest, most comprehensive encyclopedia of glbtq culture in the world.”
Headquarted in Chicago, glbtq.com is most definitely not a wiki, but rather a genuine, edited encyclopedia, with more than 2,000 signed entries, and a editorial board of eminent gay academics.
For the second time, on Sunday I rode in New York’s annual Gay Pride march on the Sirius OutQ float.
Seeing a parade from a float is an unusual experience. The only floats or marching groups you get to see besides your own are the ones in front and behind you. So you completely miss the parade, from that point of view. On the other hand, you get to see the face of almost every single spectator, which is fantastic.
Once upon a time, when I was much younger, I would position myself near the beginning of the Pride Parade route, watch all the floats and groups go by until the one I wanted to join arrived, then walk with that group until near the end of the, jump out, and watch the rest of the parade from the sidelines. That way I could have the best of both worlds. But that took forever, even in those days, when the San Francisco parade was much shorter than it is today. Now, it takes nearly five hours just to ride the New York parade route. I can’t even imagine how long it would take to watch it and ride in it.
The one thing riding a float is not is easier. You’d think that riding the route would be much easier than walking it, but in fact I spent the whole five hours dancing and waving and putting out energy and trying to make Sirius OutQ seem as fun to listen to as it is to make. And let me tell, you by the end of it I was totally wiped out. Even after a good night’s sleep, I was still tired this morning.
I love Gay Pride, but I sure am glad it comes but once a year.