OK, that headline might be click-baity, but I’m not sure how else to interpret what Time magazine reporter Jay Newton-Small said at the Reinventing the War on Poverty conference convened by The Atlantic.
Newton-Small spoke on the “Can the Media End Poverty?” panel in March. Go to Chapter 5, “How a Journalist Covers Poverty” (start at the 17-minute mark) where she talks about a story she’s been trying to sell her editors on for two years.
The story, Newton-Small said, would be “about how there’s been a large rise in lesbianism in urban areas, because there’s generations of men who, essentially, are absent. And it used to be a huge taboo to be a lesbian in a lot of these neighborhoods and now, it’s become not only accepted but very celebrated,” she said.
“It’s almost like male replacement, you know, like we don’t need men anymore. It’s very much female empowerment.”
This story idea feels problematic on so many levels, starting with the word “lesbianism.” I don’t see it listed as a “don’t do” in GLAAD’s media guide, but who says that? The verbiage feels so outdated, which then makes me suspect about everything else that follows.
I understand that sexuality is on a continuum, but I’m feeling some kind of way about this. No shade intended toward Newton-Small, whom I have never met and who is almost certainly a lovely person. You don’t get to Time by being a slouch.
I also am trying to respect my place in the LGBT conversation, so I’m about to inbox some folks whose opinions I respect (and with whom I have a close enough relationship to ask such things) to help me out with this one. I’ll report back.
Meanwhile, check out videos of the conference here. Lots of good speakers and information worth digesting.