6.6.13 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotEach time a celebrity comes out of the closet, I have mixed reactions. Part of me celebrates that another one of “us” has made the bold move to acknowledge his or her true identity. But a small part of me truly and quietly says, “Who cares?”

Coming out of the closet is a big deal. If you’re reading this column you have more than likely experienced the liberation and pain of coming out to friends and family-or are debating on whether or not to take that bold step. It’s cathartic and healthy to share your sexuality with those close to you and it also gives an example of what it means to be LGBT to those who, up until that point, may not have known a person from our community.

In April, the NBA’s Jason Collins proudly came out as a gay man in an article with Sports Illustrated’s website. The free agent effectively became the first active male member of a professional sports league to announce that he is gay. It’s groundbreaking. It’s brave. But in 2013 should it be front page news?

I understand the incredible affect Collins’ announcement will have on sports. It has opened the door, so to speak, for discussion about LGBT players in professional arenas. It also gives LGBT youth a role model and proves that people can participate and excel in any number of professions, even the world of professional sports.

It’s not just the sports world that needs or has LGBT role models. Adam Lambert is an impressive, out force since his American Idol days and a growing list of actors have followed in the footsteps of Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres and Jim Parsons to share their personal lives with the world.

Coming out is one reason June is Pride Month! It’s a chance for our community to share with the world who we are and to remind the cities in which we live that we are truly involved in all aspects of life.

But reactions to coming out shouldn’t be any different than sharing that a man has asked a woman to marry him or learning that Becky Sue accepted Bobby Joe’s invitation to be his prom date. Stating who we are or who we love is just a simple fact, not a reason for a bold headline across the front page of the New York Times.

I can only guess at the pressure out celebrities are under when they initially share their sexuality with the world. They are already judged harshly by critics for simply being in the spotlight.

It’s a tricky process and with each celebrity’s coming out article, the celebratory side of my reaction is slowly giving into the reasonable side. And I wonder, when will a celebrity’s coming out story stop being news, and why do we continue to care?

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Amid all of the celebratory events of Pride month, we can sometimes forget that our main mission here at Watermark Media is to cover news and breaking events in a timely and professional manner. It’s something this company has done for nearly 20 years, and something I hope we continue to do for more than 20 more.

The reputation of this paper and its website, WatermarkOnline.com, are important to me and to our staff. So when it came to light recently that an article on our website was not the completely original work of one of our contributors, but strangely and too conveniently similar to a story from another publication, we immediately pulled the item and researched the incident. I then communicated our regrets to the content’s original creators.

The world of mass media is a tough world to live and work and the free flow of information via new technologies can entice some writers to use inappropriate methods to meet deadlines. But lifting information from another source without proper attribution is an insult to all of us in journalism, whether it’s newsprint or in new media.

To our readers: You have my word that Watermark will continue to provide original, exciting and accurate content within its pages and online and remain your source for LGBT news, opinion pieces and entertainment.

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