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Bloggers Are Changing the Way the Gay Rights Movement Communicates
"For me, blogging has been about looking outside my own lens. If it wasn't for reading blogs, for example, I wouldn't know as much as I know now about transgender issues," Spaulding says. "At first I thought, 'I'm not transgender. This is not my issue.' But then you read about it, you make the connections and you realize that, yes, I'm a part of that, too."
Spaulding started blogging in 2004, the year 11 states passed laws banning same-sex marriage. She blogged because she wanted to express her frustration, not because she thought people would actually read her postings. But slowly, through online word of mouth, people did. Her influence is not due to the total number of people who read her -- she averages about 8,000 unique visitors a day -- but the kind of people who do, many of whom are movers and shakers in the gay community.
Often her blog postings are linked to by more highly trafficked blogs before finding their way to a mainstream portal like the Huffington Post. Ads on Spaulding's site bring some revenue, which usually end up paying travel expenses for her to cover an event or attend a conference. But she doesn't blog for money. On any given night, she sits on her leather recliner at home, her dogs Chloe and Casey resting on her feet as she browses the Internet.
Shortly after President Obama was sworn in, for example, she headed to WhiteHouse.gov.
There on the home page, up in the main navigation bar, she scrolled through what's called "The Agenda" and clicked on a section labeled "Civil Rights." A few paragraphs down, after a laundry list of promises that include ending racial profiling and curbing voter fraud, lies an eight-point, 660-word manifesto detailing the White House's support for the gay community. With the exception of same-sex marriage, which Obama does not support, it was all there: "Support Full Civil Unions." "Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell." "Expand Adoption Rights." The paragraph on AIDS prevention links the continued stigma surrounding HIV-AIDS to homophobia.
"I couldn't believe what I was reading," recalls Spaulding. "I mean, he had listed those issues on his campaign site and also on the transition site. But this is the White House site." She quickly posted an item about it on her blog, drawing many hopeful and a few skeptical comments. Later, she visited the sites of groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition and the American Family Association, which noted "Obama's pro-homosexual agenda" on the White House site.
"Obama has said over and over again that his will be an inclusive presidency," Spaulding says. "So we'll see. Words are just words. They must become actions. Everyone will be closely watching."
Including this blogging black lesbian from the South.