PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The leader of North Carolina’s NAACP and founder of the state’s Moral Monday movement shared a message of collaboration and fusion politics at a conference of LGBT journalists, editors and bloggers from around the country in mid March.

The Rev. Dr. William Barber II was the keynote speaker at the opening reception of the LGBT Media Journalists Convening on March 13. The event was held at Philadelphia’s Comcast Center.

Convening organizer Bil Browning said Barber’s opening keynote set the tone for a weekend focused on building bridges and equipping local, state and national LGBT journalists with the tools they need to better cover their communities.

Barber’s role in the African-American Civil Rights Movement and North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement also provided context and lessons for those at the event.

“With Moral Monday,” Browning explained, “what he has done is bring together various civil rights priorities and shown his community that there is a commonality and that working together is what actually moves a message. It’s bigger than just one small portion of the pie. You have to be able to take a fork and eat the whole thing.”

Barber told the journalists gathered that it was time for progressives to reclaim ground lost to conservatives. The opposition he said is neither religious nor right, noting that progressives have ceded moral language to conservatives.

Barber told qnotes — this writer attended the conference — that fusion politics and coalition building has been necessary to counter the negative effects of North Carolina’s rightwing leadership. To move forward, communities of all stripes must unite and move forward together.

“I define it less as a coalition and more as fusion, not even populist, because in the South, populism was often racist populism,” Barber said after his keynote. “The notion is, and [Charlotte’s] Bishop Tonyia Ralws has said this, that we need the LGBT community to be fully engaged. In other words, just like we fought for the pushback for Amendment 1, we need the LGBT community fighting with us against voter rights suppression.”

Opponents to equality are all intersected, Barber said.

“All the forces promoting anti-labor, anti-minimum wage, anti-Medicaid, anti-voting rights are all the same forces which are anti-LGBT,” Barber said.

Barber’s presence at the national media convening, running March 13-16 and presented by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and sponsored by the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, which covers the cost of attendance for those journalists invited to attend, was part of a weekend-long message, said Browning.

As the LGBT community looks past a decade’s worth of marriage equality work it is beginning to ask, “So now what?”, Browning explained.

“For a long time, the debate over marriage and amendments and all those discussions have overwhelmed the LGBT community and LGBT media,” he said. “So much media has been taken up by the conversation around marriage that a lot of times, journalists are struggling to figure out what the next priority will be and what they should be talking about.”

Topics of the weekend conference included a primer on anti-LGBT “religious liberty” laws, a discussion of bisexuality, a panel discussing race and gender and a discussion of HIV-related story writing and news coverage. Additionally, journalists had the opportunity to visit Philadelphia’s John C. Anderson Apartments, billed as a first-of-its-kind affordable housing complex for LGBT seniors.

This year’s LGBT Media Journalists Convening was the sixth such conference held for LGBT journalists. Other host cities for the conference have included New York City, San Francisco, Houston and Washington, D.C. This was the second visit to Philadelphia. Past conference themes have included immigration, LGBT youth support and suicide, elections, seniors and transgender issues, among others. : :

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.