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Why I’m Hanging Up My Bilerico Hat For Good

by David Badash on April 2, 2010

in Uncategorized

When I first started writing “The New Civil Rights Movement,” this blog on marriage equality, politics, and civil rights, I had a deep desire to make a positive impact for my community. Prop 8 had passed literally days before, and this blog was my response to the deep voice inside me that said at any and all costs, I can no longer stand by and do little to nothing to help achieve equality. Like so many, I was compelled to take action, and I did so in the best way I knew how: creating a blog and writing, all day, every day. All told, I think I’ve helped strengthen and educate our community.

Along the way, I’ve met many wonderful writers and activists, I’ve learned, been inspired, and hopefully have given back at least as much as I’ve received. There have been some small victories and successes, including my creation, and, along with a great many people, our establishment of “The Great Nationwide Kiss-In,” a fifty-five city event that we held last August, and FireFoxx, our Facebook group dedicated at first to replacing Rep. Virginia Foxx, now dedicated to replacing all anti-gay politicians.

I will confess, too, when I began writing I secretly hoped that one day, a blog I admired and read often, would someday notice my work and invite me to join.

That day happened almost a year ago. I was asked to do a guest post, then another, and finally, after writing “LGBTQ Leadership: Going The Way Of America’s Automakers,” and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? Has The Promise Of Obama Been Broken For Now, Or Forever?,” Bil Browning, the founder of the iconic “The Bilerico Project,” invited me to join, as he put it, “the Bilerico family” as a regular contributor.

Anyone who has interviewed for a job at the company of their dreams — and gets an offer to join — knows how I felt. Ecstatic!

Along the way, I wrote a dozen more pieces for Bilerico. Some well-received, some controversial, but from each post I learned a great deal. I hope others did as well.

But also along the way, I noticed the tone of the content at Bilerico started to change. In my mind, and, perhaps ignorantly, I had viewed The Bilerico Project as a big “think tank” that generated ideas, discussion, passion, and worked to help us gain equality, educate, and improve how LGBTQs are perceived, both within and outside our community.

(Those of you who have read my writing know that to me, perception is very important, as it is one part of helping us achieve our goals. I’m fully expecting cries of “assimilationist!” from some, and that’s fine, if you choose to see it that way. I, by the way, do not.)

I recognize the need to “pay the bills,” and sadly, I understand that “Prince William’s penis pictures,” “First all Israeli gay porn movie,” and even “Top 10 Stores to Pick Up Gay Men” (three of the top-ten most popular posts on The Bilerico Project) may serve that purpose, but as a journalist, I have to believe that these are the easy way out, and, just as I wouldn’t expect to see that type of content coming from a think tank, or mainstream journalism site, I don’t expect to see it coming from what I thought Bilerico was. And perhaps that was my mistake.

I also recognize that other LGBTQ sites do offer pornography-as-content, but others do not. Via Twitter and a poll on this blog Wednesday night, I asked what folks thought of pornography-as-content. I’d say most were against it, but many were fine with it. It’s a personal choice, neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong.

My writing and my activism is my work. My work is to help the LGBTQ community achieve full equality, both under the law and in the hearts and minds of our neighbors, family-members, friends, co-workers, and society in general. And so I view Bilerico and my own blog as my place of work. And, after twenty-five years of working in corporate America, I don’t believe pornography has a place in the workplace.

I’ve had this conversation, and others, with Bil. I understand his point. And most importantly, Bilerico is his home, and his business. Bilerico is an amazing institution, one that has taught me more than I expected, and one that has contributed a great deal to the LGBTQ community. I know Bil and all the Bilerico contributors will continue to do that fine work, to help open doors for our community, and help move the national conversation forward.

All that said, however, I have to add that Wednesday was the end of the line for me. The post, “Hot Mormon missionary boys masturbating,” in which Bil writes,

“I bring you pictures of hot Mormon missionary boys masturbating. They’re from the porn site, but I’ve deliberately used ones where you can only see their cocks through their magical Mormon underwear…”

was just too much for me. I am not especially prude. That content has its place on the Internet, but to my mind, not on a site — not in a think tank — that is working to achieve equality. (And, given our community’s current challenges with the LDS Church, I feel it was an especially short-sighted choice.)

I do not see my work and pornography as compatible or even being able to share the same home. And I do not think that that type of content here helps us in our battle to win the hearts and minds of those who might choose to help us.

(Yes, our civil rights are “unalienable,” but, as I’ve learned, we still have to win hearts and minds to win at the ballot box, in the legislatures, and even in the courts. Our rights should never be put up to a vote, but, sadly, we have let it come to that.)

Adding insult to injury, Bil wrote, “you can’t be a proper Bilerico unless you’re both political and perverted.” Well, once more, and with all due respect to Bil, I think comments like that do not serve our community well. Am I “political?” Absolutely. Am I “perverted?” Absolutely not. And so I guess that means that I can’t be a “proper Bilerico.”

Like I said, Bilerico is Bil’s home and business, and I respect his right to run it in any fashion he chooses. I have the utmost respect for Bil and all he’s accomplished. Last year, during the Ronald Gold debacle, I gained even more respect for Bil, not from his editorial decision to run, “‘No’ to the notion of transgender,” but for how he handled the response the piece generated. Bil put his writers and readers first, and was on top of the situation quickly and competently. I went from debating to resign in protest over Bil’s decision to run the piece, to writing, “No To The Notion Of Irresponsibility. Yes To Embracing Our Past And Our Future,” in response against the piece but also in support of Bil and all he’s worked so hard to achieve.

So, it’s not the the intellectual content at Bilerico, but the lapse of it that forces me to say goodbye there.

I will continue fighting for our equality, for marriage, for civil rights, and work to educate here at The New Civil Rights Movement, and along any other avenue I find is compatible with my personal and professional beliefs.

I want to thank Bil, the entire Bilerico family, and all Bilerico readers for the support they have given me. I know they will all continue working to make our community stronger and the lives of our members better. I thank them for giving me the chance to contribute there to that goal.

Again, I am fully committed to The New Civil Rights Movement, and have many ideas on how I’d like to see it grow, so, I am not going away! I hope you’ll continue to visit here daily.

I welcome your thoughts, too. How do you feel about pornography-as-content?

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Jake April 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Beautifully stated, and I agree with you 100%.

Kevin April 2, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Good for you! I'm happy that you chose the right path. I enjoy your site and have never visited the Bilerico site. I look forward to your continued success right here. I wish the best to you and your continued efforts on all our behalf!

j3black April 2, 2010 at 4:29 pm

I lost interest in Bilerico because of the Ronald Gold post and the editor's response to it. A group of people were exploited as an issue, which seems no more useful to gaining equality than posting porn.

I admire what you do, so I'm glad you're doing what you need to do to continue your work. Good luck.

SistersTalk Radio April 2, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Were you approached with the line "How can I help you?" I was. I declined that kinda help. I don't need it. Don't want it.

Michelle April 2, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I also have a lot of admiration for you David for making the decision you have. Like you I totally respect Bil for running the Bilcerico Project in whatever he sees fit but personally for me I'm not keen on the pornography for content model either which is why you would never see such content on my own site. To the same extent whilst I know from searches to my site, and from what I've seen around the web, that people are really keen on the "let's out him or her" type articles these don't sit well with me either which is why you won't ever see them featured.

I think as writers we have a job to provide content that people want to read but to the same extent we need to stay true to ourselves. Ask me to write an article outing somewhere and it will be an uncomfortable piece of writing that won't appeal to anyone. Ask me to discuss the response to a political vote or decision and then you'll see real passion which can't help but intrigue people as they read it,

Edwin MacDonald April 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Being new to the whole blogsphere phenomenon (sad, I know) I have to say I have never considered Bilerico to be news site – I have never seen much on there that interested me as news, credible opinion, or anything other than gossip and porn. Frankly, the last few months, I just assumed it was as G&P site.

You made the right decision. We will never be taken seriously unless we take ourselves seriously, and stop wallowing in the lowest stereotypes imposed upon us.

Phil Reese April 2, 2010 at 6:12 pm

David, my friend:

I totally respect your decision and opinion, but I think our view of what porn "is" is different. Bilerico, Towleroad and Queerty have all always posted pictures of pretty guys in less than their Sunday best–generally with a bit of bulge. But porn, it is not. These are probably not safe for work, not school-appropriate, and definitely not news or analysis, but I just don't see this along the same lines as, say, guyswithiphones or xtube or whatever.

I don't particularly go to any of these blogs to see the pretty guys. They're pleasant, but they've never really been able to distract me from my main purpose of reading and commenting on the news. You and I have been at Bilerico about the same amount of time, and during that time we've both tended to post primarily on news and current events. But during that time, posts around ours have run the gamut from why marriage equality is wrong, to which is the funniest NOM parody to stories of watching a loved one die. Bilerico–and Towleroad and Pam's House Blend and Joe.My.God, even Huffington Post, for that matter–if anything are places where we gather interests from across the galaxy of queerdom and allow conversations to occur. Frivolous as some of us would find some of the content. I would say that when Joe posts the literal video YouTube videos for famous songs, its about as frivolous as posting pictures of pretty guys. All of the blogs post stuff I just don't care about. I don't fault them for it. I also post things that plenty in the LGBT community don't identify with and could care less about. That's wonderful.

Your voice will be missed at Bilerico. I've always loved reading your posts, and you're probably one of my top five contributors there. I think we definitely agree tons, and that helps. I will always continue reading your blog. I don't think Bilerico is a perfect institution, but I also disagree with the underlying suggestion that these pictures of pretty boys does our movement harm. There are worse things for sure.

You're right that that wouldn't be appropriate coming out of an honest-to-God think tank. However, Bilerico just just a big group blog, not a think tank. There is no agenda, no policy… its a blog. Maybe we need to move our conversation to: Where IS our big gay community policy think tank? Rather than try to hold up our blogs up to higher standards than we'd hold up the blogs outside of our community, and impress codes upon them that they never signed up for, we should explore something new?

Jude April 3, 2010 at 1:22 am

David, I think you made a good decision.

Erika April 3, 2010 at 3:09 am

Pornography as content frustrates me. It represents such a narrow piece of the LGBTQ community pie…one that neither I, nor any of the other LGBTQ people I know reside in. It fuels stereotypes and distracts from those of us trying to do something meaningful & productive toward achieving equality. I lost interest in Bilerico awhile ago for other reasons; reading your recap of its recent redirection validates my disinterest. I think what you're doing here is meaningful and productive and wish you all the best as you continue to fight the fight.

Dieks April 6, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Followed here thru links.

The one obvious observation that I must make to you regarding this post and references to sites/magazine/blogs/gay sexuality/pornography… they are in the majority, gay male-centric.

Something that the lesbian community has dealt w/for DECADES. This is exactly why you see so little content from lesbian [[not queer ID'd]] members. Just "old fashion" bio-women lezzies.

Lezzies typically don't want to have to deal w/all that "dick" on a links/side-bar or the post in-front of them when writing about the patriarchy.

So "old fashion" bio-women lezzies make their own sites. Make their own blogs. Make themselves visible… to those who really don't give a shit about them.

I applaud, regularly check these sites and support them. But what bio-women lezzies have learned over the decades… gay people w/penis' like to focus their attention on penis. The narcissism is astounding at times, but after a few decades you get use to and work around it.

You just learn to never turn your back on them.

Ray June 25, 2010 at 3:33 am

You did the right thing. I knew Alex and Bil back when Bilerico launch and have contributed pieces myself. I know– from Alex's own mouth– that they will do whatever drives up hits on their site and will stab anyone in the back who chooses to tell the truth about them.

Ray June 25, 2010 at 5:58 am

Trustme….the boys at Bilerico (Bil, Jerame & Alex) are all about TBP and nothing else. Our community is just a tool they use to gratify their egos

davidstoneIII November 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I parted with the "Bilerico family" when Bil engaged in cyber-bulling attacks on my Libertarian friends with whom he disagreed. I then noticed that increasing occurrences of anti-Christian hate displayed on his site.

How shameful!!!!

No wonder the GLBT community in Indianapolis, for the most part, will have nothing to do with him.

He is a disgrace to the movement.

Can't we do better???

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