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Conference (and travel) wrap up

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I'm home from the NLGJA convention in Miami. Student coverage of it was excellent; btw, I was unexpectedly grabbed for a Q&A about el Nuevo Herald reporters who were sacked for conflict of interest).

Back to the convention, though. I met a lot of interesting people, some I knew virtually, others I knew of their work.

At the women's dinner on Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Villarosa, former Health Editor for the NYT, and former exec editor at Essence mag. She is also now a contributing writer at AfterEllen.com. Linda wrote a ground breaking article while at Essence on coming out of the closet. As a black lesbian, I cannot tell you how important this was -- and it came out in 1981. The article generated the largest response of mail in the magazine's history and she and her mom did two follow-up articles on how the process affected their relationship. Linda presented on the NLGJA panel, "Covering Sexual Health for a Mainstream Audience."

Regarding the blogger panel -- Michael Jensen of AfterElton.com was our moderator, Sarah Warn of AfterEllen.com and Jeremy of Good As You were fantastic colleagues at the session. Michael did a great job of keeping the conversation moving. I hope that folks enjoyed it (here's the audio. Hat tips to Blender KevinM, Rebecca of SLDN, Kenneth Hill of AOL's Worth Repeating and all of you who attended the blogging panel -- and especially for the kind words! Many thanks to NLGJA's Eric Hegedus, Ina Fried, and Karen Bailis for the warm welcome.

Later that day I finally met the wonderful Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out and the author of Anything But Straight (an exposť of the ex-gay movement). We shared a good long conversation over the laughable-if-they-weren't-damaging homo-obsessive antics of Porno Pete, Bob Knight of Concerned Women for America, Alan Chambers of Exodus, the unhinged Richard Cohen, and many more of the folks you all know and love reading about on the Blend.


Cohen's beat-the-gay-out "therapy," highlighted on CNN.

Wayne's going to be in my neck of the woods next week; there's some ex-gay activity going on that he'll pass more information on to me about, so I'll keep you all in the loop.

Another of the quacks who came up in our conversation was the anti-gay junk scientist Paul Cameron. He's been discredited over and over, and was kicked out of the American Psychological Association, Nebraska Psychological Association, and the American Sociological Association publicly stated that "Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and condemns his consistent misrepresentation of sociological research."

A recent major controversy involving Cameron is that his "research" has finally been published in a peer-reviewed scientific publication, the Journal of Biosocial Science, clearly by an editorial board who didn't review Cameron's well-known body of prior biased, shoddy work. Up until this point, his efforts have been pay-to-publish rags, and now, with the stamp of approval by an academic journal he's touting that "Children of Homosexuals And Transsexuals More Apt To Be Homosexual." Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin nicely destroyed Cameron and this drivel at his pad and questioned the academic press that let this get through to print.

Abigail Garner, author, Families Like Mine is one writer whose work has been cited and twisted by Cameron. She was at the NLGJA conferene as well, and served on a Saturday panel entitled "Under the Microscope: LGBT Families and the Media." She came up to me before my panel and told me about her major concerns about the legitimacy that Cameron has been given by being published in a peer-reviewed journal, picking and choosing information from her book, which is not an academic text, to cite as part of his "research." Other authors who have been published in the Journal of Biosocial Science have contacted her, angry that their hard work is being associated with Cameron's trash. She said that the publisher has stopped responding to inquiries as to how "Children of Homosexuals And Transsexuals More Apt To Be Homosexual" made it into print.

***

Oy, I just wanted to rant about another airport ordeal. No Cinnabombers, mind you, but I can safely say that Miami International Airport is the worst I've ever been in, bar none. Mass confusion, no organization, lines going nowhere fast.

I came to the American Airlines area, and there were long lines at the self-check in kiosks. Aside from the fact that there were a lot of folks there, the main problem was that there were so few of them, maybe 5 or 6 for those with bags to check in for a domestic flight. We have more than that at RDU. That, however was a smaller problem than what came next.

So I get my boarding pass from the machine, and at this point, someone behind the counter usually gets the printed bag tag for the luggage you're checking and either 1) tags it and takes it to a belt behind the counter 2) tells you to roll it to the scanner area yourself. At MIA, it's chaos. After you get your boarding pass, you have to:
* go around the crowd that is waiting to get to a kiosk to a different area (this caused chaos, because travelers couldn't tell where to go);
* stand in a roped off "holding pen" like cattle and wait for someone to scream out your name on the printed tag so you can make your way to the front so the AA worker can put it on your bag and check your ID;
* roll your bag over to another area near the scanning machine and wait until everyone with a boarding time sooner than yours to have their bags taken behind the rope, because the way-too-small storage area is full of bags. The poor AA workers just couldn't process the mounting bags fast enough. Also, this is the only location for the screening machine, so all bags have to be taken here, no matter what gate you're going to.

After my bag was finally taken, I had to hoof it to a terminal on the other side of the airport. The security scanning set up was also inadequate given the size of this airport and its traffic load. All lines had to funnel down to two screening machines, so it was slow going. Thankfully, I arrived 2.5 hours ahead of time, so I wasn't in a hurry.