(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.
Note: These tips are to help journalists prepare for anti-LGBTQ+ actions and based on North Carolina laws. Similar statutes exist in most states and reporters can use this as a jumping off point.
Reporting should be done carefully to avoid amplifying hateful groups or messaging, or making LGBTQ+ people feel unsafe by creating a perception of danger even when there are no specific threats. Such failures by journalists advance the goals of anti-LGBTQ+ actors and extremists.
Remember: Participating in events like Pride actually makes LGBTQ+ people and their allies safer, even though the events themselves can potentially be targets of protest, harassment, intimidation or attack. Establishing community and fostering allyship is a key strategy for building safety into civil society for minority groups. Keep that front of mind when reporting and structuring a story.
- Anti-LGBTQ+ mobilization is on the rise in the US (ACLED)
- Anti-drag protests are frequent in North Carolina (GLAAD)
- Domestic violent extremists pose a threat to LGBTQ+ people in the US (DHS National Terrorism Advisory)
- Paramilitary, armed, and white nationalist mobilizations are increasingly focused on anti-LGBTQ+ activity (Western States Center)
Tips for documenting anti-LGBTQ+ actions*:
Note: All statutes referenced below are from North Carolina. Similar statutes exist in most states and reporters can use this as a jumping off point.
- Familiarize yourself with state and federal laws that anti-LGBTQ+ actors may violate. Plan how to document these actions. (See WHQR coverage for an example.)
- Read ICAP’s guidance for protecting Pride events from extremists. Meant for organizers, very useful for journalists (see guide at the end).
- Read ICAP’s guidance on anti-militia laws in North Carolina.
- Should you observe or learn of anybody issuing threats or intimidation in-person or through other communication, these laws may apply:
- Document incidents where law enforcement declines to enforce those laws. (Again, see WHQR coverage.)
- Focus on what anti-LGBTQ+ actors do rather than what they say.
- Do not publish materials to help anti-LGBTQ+ actors recruit, such as patches, logos, QR codes, or websites.
- For people who are armed or openly carrying, ask:
- What weapon(s) are they carrying?
- What training have they received for using those weapons?
- Did anyone ask them to be armed at the event?
- Are they present with a group or individually?
- Are they aware this is a protest or demonstration (see § 14-288.20)?
Tips for reporting on potential threats or anti-LGBTQ+ actions*:
- Do not amplify unconfirmed threats or anti-LGBTQ+ actions (e.g. calls for protest). Improper handling of these events can fuel violence.
- Proper reporting steps when learning of a threat are to (1) call law enforcement (is there an LGBTQ+ liaison officer?), (2) call local Pride organizers, and (3) call statewide partnership groups (e.g. Blueprint NC, Equality NC). Ask if they’re aware of the threat, how they analyze it, and how they’re responding. For deeper reporting, contact Jordan Wilkie for source recommendations.
- When calling local organizers, be very clear about what you do and do not know. Do not create panic. Do not immediately ask for quotes. Safety before deadlines.
- Pride events have security. In any published stories, represent the precautions Pride organizers have taken to limit panic or unnecessary feelings of fear or targeting among the LGBTQ+ community.
- Reading about threats to your own community is traumatic. Include links to (local) resources for the queer community, such as LGBTQ+ centers, PFLAG groups, Facebook groups (ask admins before linking to their groups) or to national organizations such as the Trevor Project’s hotline for queer youth in crisis.
- If you publish a story, share it with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).
Tips for covering law enforcement presence at anti-LGBTQ+ events*:
- Record the level of law enforcement presence, i.e. number of officers, level of equipment, types of mobile units (on-foot, bike, car, motorcycle, horse, van, etc.).
- Document positioning. Are officers between opposing groups or off to the side?
- If between, which group are officers facing? Are they engaging with either group?
- Are officers using passive crowd control tactics such as putting up barriers or active tactics such kettling?
- Document apparent relationships between officers and anti-LGBTQ+ actors.
- Are officers talking to members of either group? What is the nature of the conversations?
- Do the law enforcement agencies have an LGBTQ+ liaison or designated officer in charge on the scene?
- Do LGBTQ+ organizers have a relationship, understanding or communication channels with that officer?
- Compare LEO press briefings to documentation of on-the-ground activity.
Tips for engaging local elected officials after an incident:
- Anything short of condemnation by elected officials of violence and threats against minority communities or political opponents is uniformly considered anti-democratic behavior among academics, good-governance organizations and multinational organizations (like the UN).
- Ask basic, open-ended questions.
- Do you support Pride events?
- What do you have to say to the LGBTQ+ community in light of this incident?
- What do you have to say to the people who caused this incident?
- Do you take any accountability?
- Scan the official’s social media and use Google dorking to see if the official has made relevant comments before or is associated with anti-LGBTQ+ groups.