Window Media, the nation's largest owner of gay newspapers, shut its doors today bringing D.C.'s local gay newspaper The Washington Blade as well as four others down with it.
The Washington Blade, you could say, was the New York Times of LGBT news. It was the second-largest gay newspaper by circulation (beside Gay City News) and covered national issues as well as local D.C. politics. It was widely recognized for its reporting on the AIDS crisis and the marriage fight and has served as a bulletin board for local events, including political rallies. Most obviously, gay D.C. residents will be less informed about issues that affect them without the Blade -- and less likely to be drawn to activism, which is no small blow for groups that are already underrepresented in politics anyway.
I regularly wrote for the New York Blade, its sister publication, until it shuttered its operations in July. Whenever I had an idea I thought would be too "gay" for mainstream media, or when I wanted to write about a certain politician's gay-rights record, I went to the NY Blade.
Much has been made of local city papers like the Rocky Mountain News closing their doors, but if anything, the disappearance of publications that cater to minorities -- the "ethnic" or "minority" media -- is even more troubling. Papers like the Blade not only provide a voice to dispossessed groups, they're how a community talks to itself – and sounds the alarm when there's a threat. Next time a D.C. police officer roughs up and arrests someone gay while calling him a "faggot," I question whether the Washington Post will immediately run to the scene. Who will?