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Friday, May 17, 2024
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Last week, The Alligator published a paper with an emphasis on LGBTQ stories. We featured nonbinary drag queens, covered state trans legislation, local Pride info sessions and more. 

We’re proud to publish these stories our staff worked hard on. We’re honored to cover the stories about our local communities. 

After publishing one of our Pride stories, we had to edit the online version out of safety concerns for our sources. It’s not often we need to do this. 

The story featured a local art workshop trying to normalize trans and nonbinary models in the visual arts. Our coverage centered around the founder’s trailblazing efforts and the empowerment of the models. 

We initially received thanks from the workshop organizers, who appreciated our coverage and the tone of it — but shortly after, they warned us about an unwanted response they received from other politicized news outlets who picked up the story.

The group requested we change four things in the story: removing “buzz words” from the headline, removing the workshop’s name from the headline, removing the models’ names from the photo’s caption and alerting Alligator reporters and editors of the negative circulation of the story.

Understandably, this group is worried about their members’ general safety. But it shouldn’t have to be this way.

We’re proud to highlight LGBTQ stories during Pride Month and beyond. We’re committed to serving Gainesville — despite a polarized, political climate that attempts to villainize some of its residents. 

This climate has continued to create issues within the community and within our coverage of the community.

While working on Pride-focused reporting, Alligator staff writers are continuously running into a growing issue: LGBTQ sources are afraid to go on the record and speak up about being queer in Florida, fearing harassment from intolerant groups.

Simply put, our reporters are struggling to find LGBTQ, especially transgender, sources who aren’t afraid of the opposition they might receive.

As reporters, we want to share their stories. As human beings, we want to respect their boundaries, their privacy. So we redacted the sources’ last names and we altered the headline of the story. If we’re being fully transparent, The Alligator’s priority is to better our relationships with sources and make them feel safe.

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Over the past few months, the Florida state legislature has passed a number of bills targeting LGBTQ individuals, from drag performers and Pride celebrations to queer youths in public education and transgender individuals’ access to healthcare. 

Members of the community are seeing nearly every aspect of their day-to-day life affected by political turmoil.

The Human Rights Campaign, one of the biggest organizations championing LGBTQ rights in the nation, issued a Florida travel advisory to the LGBTQ community May 23. 

The legislation wave pushed many LGBTQ individuals to flee the state in fear of what a future in Florida might look like. Speaking up now matters more than ever.

Our state has increasingly become a hostile place for LGBTQ communities, and we feel the need to share the concerns of our local residents.

Gainesville’s own LGBTQ history has come a long way to make the city the safe space it is today. The Alligator is proud to have played a part in that.

In April 2018, Gainesville officials banned conversion therapy for minors. It was the first city in North Florida to do so.

In October 2019, Gainesville pulled out their multicolor paints, adding rainbow crosswalks to downtown to celebrate Coming Out Day. The odes to Gainesville Pride have lasted throughout the years and can still be seen today.

This week, we’re featuring two openly gay and lesbian commissioners who are pushing the envelope for LGBTQ representation in government. We also covered local drag families and queer student resources. 

We stand by our communities’ stories, and we stand by our sources’ right to tell them. Intimidation will not result in silence. 

Pride Month originated as a way for a silenced community to tell their stories proudly, loudly and unapologetically. With our coverage, we hope to uphold and celebrate that legacy — June and beyond.

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Jiselle Lee

Jiselle Lee was The Alligator’s Summer 2023 Editor-In-Chief. She was previously a reporter with NextShark News and a reporting intern at The Bradenton Herald.

Kristine Villarroel

Kristine Villarroel is a UF journalism senior and The Alligator's Summer 2023 Engagement Managing Editor. She previously worked in the Avenue and Caimán desks as an editor and reporter. In her free time, she looks for dusty fur coats at antique shops and pretends not to be a hater on Twitter.

Jackson Reyes

Jackson Reyes is a UF journalism senior and The Alligator's Fall 2023 Sports Editor. He previously served as Digital Managing Editor and was a reporter and assistant editor on the sports desk. In his free time, he enjoys collecting records, long walks on the beach and watching Bo Nix.

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