(queer)alize promotes story ideas and investigations for LGBTQ+ reporters and news outlets. It provides questions that reporters might consider when approaching a story — identifying key topics to (queer)alize, or make relevant for LGBTQ+ audiences.

With so many political campaigns using disinformation to target LGBTQ+ communities, simple explainers that are done well can be powerful stories.  

Pride events are a great opportunity to feature local LGBTQ+ leaders, such as LGBTQ+ center directors, drag performers, leaders in queer-allied student groups (students and teachers at high schools or colleges), Pride organizers, and local out and proud leaders like business owners, elected officials or pro-LGBTQ+ church leaders.

  • What is Pride? 
  • What is a drag performance? What is a drag queen or a drag king? 
  • What is the difference between a drag performer and someone who is transgender? 
  • What do all the letters in LGBTQIA+ mean? 

Try answering these questions yourself. Would you want to post your answers on TikTok and be subjected to Gen Z critique? If not, try brushing up on basic information about the LGBTQ+ community before you start any reporting. The NLGJA Stylebook on LGBTQ+ Issues is a great place to start.

Want a story that’s more accountability-driven? Ask local elected officials, from city government up to the state house, if they can answer these basic questions and use that as your story hook. 

Get a lay of the land

June is Pride month, but some cities have their main celebrations later in the year. Ask your local organizers about when your communities will celebrate Pride. 

Also talk to those organizers about the ways celebrating Pride has become more challenging. Since 2022, conservative politicians have pushed a new wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, policies and local ordinances. At the same time, anti-LGBTQ+ activists and extremists have increased protests or harassment of LGBTQ+ event organizers, hosts, and performers. 

  • Have any events been canceled? 
  • Are performers or venues dropping out? 
  • Have businesses that hosted Pride or other pro-LGBTQ+ events been harassed or closed down? 
  • Are government partners, such as libraries, no longer participating in or hosting Pride events? 

Each of these things is already happening in cities across the country. Are they happening in your coverage area too? 

Sing on key

A national wave of discriminatory laws are being advanced by culturally conservative Republican elected officials. 

Read Poynter’s guide on telling the right stories this year.

Share the microphone

Pride is a great time to build up long-term relationships with sources in the queer community. One of the best ways to do that is to earn trust by prominently including lots of LGBTQ+ voices in your reporting and letting them tell their own stories. 

Read the NYT’s Upshot doing a great job featuring a lot of LGBTQ+ teens as sources to tell a national story. Listen to WHQR’s community conversation with local LGBTQ+ leaders.

Be that queen!

Here are some tips to help reporters respect their sources and their audiences. 

  • It’s ok and encouraged to learn people’s pronouns. 
  • Drag queens and kings are performers. It takes a lot of work to “beat a face” (apply the correct makeup). If you ask a drag performer to show up for a photo or video interview in character, you are asking them to do (often) hours of work. Combining photo shoots or video interviews with an already-scheduled performance can make this an easier ask.
  • Drag performers have separate public and personal lives. Some drag performers will request you only use their performance name to protect their privacy. Drag performers may ask you to use different pronouns for their drag persona and their personal identity. 
  • There is a strong culture in the queer community for getting paid for your labor, especially in the BIPOC queer community. Acting as a source to a journalist, especially to talk about difficult topics, can be seen as a form of labor. Anticipate conversations about ethical and non-exploitative journalism. 
  • The LGBTQ+ community is not a monolith, hence all the letters and the plus sign. No person should be expected to, or able to, speak for everybody. 
  • Pride celebrations, drag shows and queer bars are all places to have fun (this is an oversimplification, but roll with me). If you want to talk to people about difficult issues, consider scheduling a follow-up. Otherwise, we risk bringing worries about hateful legislation or dangerous extremists into a space that was, until we walked in, safe and enjoyable.

Tell us your story

If you used these tips to finish a story, or perhaps we just inspired you to be more inclusive, we’d love to hear about it. Tell us about it!

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