Every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., Out Front’s staff gathers around a long conference table for our weekly staff meeting. Before we dive into the issues at hand, we go around the table and “check in” to express what kind of mental state we’re bringing to the meeting. Think: Facebook status update.
Responses generally range from “I’m good,” to “I’m a little anxious,” to “I’m ready to jump off a cliff.” Thankfully, there are fewer and fewer updates of the latter variety.
About halfway around the table, Out Front’s newest sales executive Dawn Hartbarger reported she had some good meetings with potential advertisers that day – until the last one. Her voice cracked.
“The ignorance of some people…” she began to tear up. “I don’t know how you all do it.”
Dawn, on her way into the office, stopped by a former associate’s office and shared she was now working with Out Front and suggested he advertise his real estate business here, she explained.
The businessman looked her in the eye and said, “I would never associate with that lifestyle.”
Dawn is straight, and is in fact the only straight full-time employee at Out Front. One of the attributes that made Dawn such an attractive candidate to join our now 37-year-old institution was her passionate support for the LGBT community.
“I’ve had to overcome a lot,” she said. “But I’ve never had to deal with this. How can someone judge you all just for who you are, who you love?”
The room fell silent. How did she respond?
“I realized despite the fact that I had my arguments, my statistics, my research – that he wasn’t worth my next breath,” Dawn, who has a self-proclaimed ornery streak, told the rest of our staff. She said she fought to keep it professional, thanked him for his time and excused herself.
The fact of the matter is, every LGBT person has to wake up with every morning with the fact that, no matter how many rights and responsibilities we secure, no matter how equal we are in the eyes of the law, no matter how much love and support we know is out there, there will always be members of our society who view us as “less than,” as subversive.
Yes, the numbers of our detractors grow fewer, thanks largely to the years – decades – of activism from community members like Donanciano Martinez and Preston Dickey who we profile in this issue with 40 years of LGBT activism in Denver.
The type of homophobic incidents Dawn experienced on her sales call are few and far between. In fact, since I began at Out Front two years ago, this is first I’ve ever heard of such an argument as why not to be a brand partner with our establishment.
In journalism school you’re taught a news organization is a slave to two masters – its readers, and its advertisers. Some would say you can’t serve both. Luckily for Out Front, we’re blessed with the best masters on both sides. Our readers and our marketing partners are the true testament to why the news magazine you hold in your hands, the Facebook statues you “like” and the Tweets you scan on your smartphone are, as of April 2, 2013, a 37-year success.
Without our marketing partners Out Front would have never been able to provide you the top notch coverage of the Colorado Civil Union Act’s passage. And we’d never have been able to chronicle our community’s activism for 37 years.
While we celebrate our institution and our community’s past and future in our anniversary issue, I can’t help to celebrate the businesses who have supported Out Front all these years.
After all, it’s because of their partnership that we can guarantee, in the words of our founder Phil Price: “there’s no turning back!”
If we learned anything from Dawn’s experience it’s that we need to support those who support us. To produce our special edition on the Colorado Civil Union Act, Out Front reached out to a number of wedding industry experts for support. Their messages, along with our coverage, are re-printed in this anniversary issue. To view a full list and for more information click here.