We do reader surveys every so often to get a snapshot of who our readers are, what content they prefer, what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong. The results for our most recent survey, conducted over the spring and early summer, came in not too long ago.
I can tell you, in composite, if you’re reading this you’re affluent and well-educated. Congratulations.
Digesting the comments posted by readers who took the survey is especially telling and can be an exercise in skin thickening. Although readers overall were kind — effusive, even, in their praise — and constructive in their observations, I was nominated by one as the “low information liberal of the year” and called “offensive” and “an idiot” by others. That’s cool. I can take it. Bastards.
But two comments stood out for me and reminded me that, for one, IND readers are not a monolith and, two, we’ve some ground yet to cover on our collective march to tolerance:
“The IND has morphed itself into a Gay Advocacy support paper.”
“It’s OK to be gay friendly, but lately many articles have been ‘overly gay.’”
The redundancy of “Gay Advocacy support” notwithstanding, I beg to differ that we’ve morphed into such a publication. Hell, we’ve always been cray-cray about the gay. I believe where that reader sees a metamorphosis is really in the fact that LGBT issues have become prominent in the culture over the last several years, most recently with those U.S. Supreme Court decisions striking the Defense of Marriage Act and letting stand the repeal of California’s Proposition 8, and our coverage has reflected that.
As for the second comment, I’ve strained to recall the many “overly gay” articles that have appeared in IND Monthly and/or theind.com.
There is of course the whopper, “Somewhere Under the Rainbeaux,” our July 18, 2012, cover story in defense of the LGBT Studies minor offered at UL Lafayette. We were, and we remain, proud that our hometown university, of which many IND staffers are alumni, is culturally and academically “with it.”
We also devoted a Party Girl, the most innocuous feature in the paper, to a wedding reception for lesbians who live in Lafayette but married in California. Proving that gays are no different than straights, their Party Girl spread was just as goofy as anybody’s.
And there was our recent and admittedly snarky take-down of a creaky old curmudgeon slash self-identified “Christian American defender” who routinely bursts forth with tea party tropes at City-Parish Council meetings. The guy got all bent out of shape about a gay pride flag flying, ever briefly, atop a (government-owned) flagpole at Girard Park. In a wonderfully jumbled metaphor, he likened the rainbow flag to “a poke in the eye of a way of life” in the same breath he insisted he isn’t a homophobe.
I suspect for some even a single article that reflects support for our LGBT friends, neighbors and family is “overly gay.”
Look it, we’re still finding our way through this thing. Many of you will recall the relative insensitivity we demonstrated in a poor choice of words — “the homosexual lifestyle” — a few years ago in an elegaic cover story about the late Wally Romero. We took some heat from the LGBT community over that one — enough to apologize, which no doubt withered the loins of the Christian-American defenders.
Even our most recent reader survey demonstrated that we’re not completely attuned to the increasing tolerance of the gays: One reader pointed out that in asking for marital status we offered no “domestic partner” category. “[I]t would benefit you greatly, especially with advertisers, to get a feeling for how many of your loyal readers are of the LGBT community,” the reader commented. Indeed it would. And, indeed, that category will be on the next survey.
A real test for how inclusive and tolerant — how “cool” as we like to say — Lafayette is will come next March when the Acadiana PRIDE Festival is held. It will be interesting to see what, if any, businesses — especially the typical corporate sponsors — step up to underwrite what is more or less a gay pride festival. The big-money sponsorship levels ($1,000 and up) run from Ruby through Sapphire, Emerald and Tanzanite to Hope Diamond.
I mean, tanzanite? How gay is that?
You in, Whitney Bank?
You can count on The IND to promote the hell out of the festival, us being overly gay and all.