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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Exit Spring

By every measure, this spring has been one for the ages. You have the Arab Spring whereby several Middle East and North African countries challenged their authoritarian old guard governments in the quest for freedom.

You have the Tornado Spring in which there had been record devastation in the wake of countless climate change-induced tornadoes in the South and Midwest.

You have the Flood Spring where the mighty Mississippi wreaked havoc on neighboring towns.

You have the Osama bin Laden Spring when public enemy Number 1 was effectively put to death by our courageous SEALS 6 team.

You had the Donald Spring where the annoying egotism of Donald Trump somehow managed to dominate the political scene.

And you also have the Exit Spring. Clearly, the departure of Oprah heads the list followed not that closely by the Maria Shriver exit in the wake of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dalliances and the sad cancellation of TV’s Brothers & Sisters. And as in the case of every spring, you have the Washington Capitals exiting the playoffs in an early round.

Perhaps not as monumental but of concern to our local LGBT community, was its share of exits this spring. While the surprise resignation of long time executive director of the GLCCB, Craig Wiley, was significant especially with Pride right around the corner, the messy, soap opera-like dismissal/resignation of Equality Maryland’s executive director Morgan Meneses-Sheets is still sending tremors among us.

And if that’s not enough, I, too, will be heading to the exit door after 26 months as Baltimore OUTloud’s managing editor. This resignation was as sudden as it was regrettable, but it was prompted by an unsolvable personal dispute with one of the publication’s owners. He shall remain nameless, and I will not discuss the details here.

I have turned the reins over to a very capable person, Dana LaRocca, whose column, “City Desk…A View from Mount Vernon,” has been a welcome and popular addition to our independent, award-winning newspaper. The paper’s co-publishers agreed to my recommendation, and she is the new managing editor.

Dana, who is a very good friend of mine, brings to this position years of experience in journalism. She is savvy, smart, and knows our community as well as anyone. But even more important, she cares deeply about our community and its issues, and that type of dedication is needed to be successful. Dana has been a tremendous booster for the paper and strongly believes that by being independent, it provides a critical voice for our readers.

I urge all of our writers, readers and advertisers to support Dana and the paper as it will continue to play an important role in presenting news and issues that affect our lives as LGBT folks. I have been working with Dana during this transition period, and I figure to write this column in the future.

My experience as editor has been challenging, fulfilling and enjoyable, and I owe it largely to everyone who has supported the paper and worked towards its success. I begin with the staff, and I am grateful for the support I received from the dedicated Mary Taylor (Sales Manager/Production), Anja Saine (webmaster), Bill Andriette (production director), Bill’s back-up Maria Nicolosi, talented Carol Baker (graphic artist, who also recently left to pursue further education in her field), Joe Velasquez who had succeeded Carol, and former distributors Jay Loane and Michael Serio.

Then there are the writers whose efforts are crucial to any successful publication. I cannot adequately express my appreciation for the loyalty and excellence of Gregg Shapiro, Chuck Duncan, and Deb Draisin whose contributions to our Lively Arts section made it one of the best there is.

Others also played important roles in providing excellent material for our readers (in no particular order): Dr. Eva Hersh (deserves special kudos), Dana LaRocca, David Placher, Jay Loane, Josh Aterovis, Jonathan Hernandez, Marty Hoegg, Wayne Curtis, Gerry Fisher, Rev. Meredith Moise, Woody Derricks, Mark Patro, Shawn Bradley, Sandy Rawls, Larry Walker, Colin Riley, Jessica Lemmo, Jesse Benson, Terrence Brower, Jeffrey Clagett, Nicole Bettis, Vann Mills, Bill Palmer, Jeffrey Clouser, Sam Kunz and the always dependable Rodney Burger.

These individuals are like family and made my job easier. Some have moved on to other priorities in their lives; others hopefully will remain with us.

A special nod goes to Bruce Garrett, whose outstanding political cartoons appeared in every single issue except one over a two-year period, giving our paper the uniqueness among LGBT publications of having our own in-house cartoonist. Bruce also did excellent work for the paper in the area of photography as did Skip Koritzer, Justin Nixon and most recently Jay W.

This has been a significant journey for me, and I don’t regret one minute of it. My work as editor and reporter for the paper has taken me to places and people I never imagined meeting, and I feel enriched by the experience.

Aside from the OUTloud family, I had been privileged to make innumerable contacts in and around the Baltimore area. As an example, I recently had the pleasure of meeting Maggie Beetz, the charming new editor of Gay Life whom I consider a colleague and friend rather than a competitor.

Organization leaders, elected officials, business people, other media representatives, publicists, etc. have added to and strengthened my journalism world and my life. I thank them for their work and their valuable contributions as sources and newsmakers.

In wrapping up this Exit Spring, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Jim Becker, my dear friend of over three decades and co-publisher of Baltimore OUTloud, for the opportunity to serve the LGBT community in this capacity.

And above everything else, I thank my husband Bob Ford for his loyalty, patience and support. Investing this much time and effort into an endeavor such as this can truly test a relationship. But love, as they say, conquers all. Thank you, Bob, for the love, sacrifice and understanding throughout this period of our lives. I am once again all yours.

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