Joe Jervis, author of the popular, award-winning LGBT news and culture blog Joe.My.God., has been named National Grand Marshal for the 27th annual Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade. Joe has been delivering his unique brand of activism for the global LGBT community for nine years. During this time, his signature voice has increased visibility in the fight for equal rights and justice. One of the top 100 most widely read political blogs in America, Joe.My.God. focuses on gay rights, LGBT youth, queer culture, and the blog advocates every day to expose anti-gay bigotry and hypocrisy in politics and the media. Kate Buckley recently caught up with Joe to learn more.
Joe, you lived in San Francisco for 6 years and are now based in New York. How did you come to be named the National Grand Marshal for the 27th annual Palm Springs Pride Parade?
JJ: I have a lot of readers in the Palm Springs area and I guess some of them work for Palm Springs Pride!
I hear there’s a good story behind the decision to launch your award-winning blog, Joe.My.God. Can you share?
JJ: I got kicked off a popular gay dating site in 2004 because, instead of a dating profile, I was using the allotted space to write snarky critiques of the entire online hook-up phenomenon. My profile started getting passed around outside of NYC and finally site management wrote me to suggest that I’d be happier if I went somewhere else and started a blog. The next day a friend sat with me in a West Village coffee shop and set up JoeMyGod for me.
In 2010, your blog gained national attention for tracing a virulently anti-gay comment posted on the blog to the offices of Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). You then obtained a public apology, how did this come about?
JJ: I don’t usually have time to read many of the comments left on my blog, but that day I happened to look at the comments for a post about the battle to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and saw a comment posted saying, “All faggots must die.” The IP for that comment resolved to a server operated for the United States Senate. I posted the information on the blog and within hours the story had been picked up by the mainstream press.
Two days later, it was determined that message came from [someone in] the office of Sen. Chambliss, who phoned me personally to apologize—something he also did in a statement to the press. I told him I accepted the apology, but still regret not also pressing him to improve his terrible voting record on LGBT rights.
Scandal aside, what other blog or activism achievements can you tell me about?
JJ: The blog has gotten lots of very nice awards, but I suppose I’m most proud about the fundraising I’ve done on behalf the Ali Forney Center, NYC’s homeless shelter for LGBT youth. My readers have been very generous and I’m so grateful for them. And getting “sainted” by the Sister of Perpetual Indulgence was definitely a highlight of last year.
And you’ve got the 10th anniversary of your blog (in blogger parlance: “Blog Year 10”) coming up April 2014. Any plans to celebrate?
JJ: I don’t have anything definite planned yet for the ten year anniversary, but I’m very sure it will involve a party with the readers and lots of drinking.
Where do you see your blog in five years? Ten years?
JJ: Well, I never imagined it would go on for ten years, so five more is almost impossible to imagine. Technology is changing so fast—by then we’ll probably be blogging with our minds from our hover-cars.
With the repeal of DOMA, LGBT rights have progressed, but, many would argue, still have a long way to go. Can you comment on this, as well as what you’d like to see happen next?
JJ: As things continue improve here in America, I see US-based activists increasingly turning our attention to the plight of our LGBT brothers and sisters in other countries. We’ve seen quite a bit that recently with Russia. As for next year, our big task will be to motivate LGBT voters in the midterms to protect the advances made so far and prevent these hard-won victories from being rolled back.
You also serve as editor-at-large and senior writer at Pride Magazine, the official national LGBT pride magazine. Can you tell me a bit about that—what do your duties include?
JJ: Pride Magazine is the official annual publication of InterPride, the national governing body of gay pride, and the title is distributed at pride event cities all over the country. I work with the editorial team to select the feature stories each year and often write the interview with the cover subjects.
When you’re not dedicating your time on the fight to advance LGBT rights, how do you spend your free time? What would a typical weekend look like for you?
JJ: My weekends always include at least a few hours of blogging—I haven’t missed a day in over five years. Once that’s out of the way, I often join my friends in Central Park for an afternoon of lounging and gossip on the hill that overlooks the roller-disco rink. I don’t do much clubbing anymore, but I try to get to an afternoon beer bust in the West Village at least a couple of times a month.
How will you spend on your visit to Palm Springs (apart, of course, from serving as National Grand Marshall)? I understand you may have a Palm Springs area meet-up for readers of your blog?
JJ: I’ve got several good friends and lots of readers in Palm Springs and virtually all of them have offered to show me the town. On the Saturday of Pride Weekend, we’ll be holding a get-together for the blog readers at a local pub, but we haven’t yet picked the location.