Focus on the Family refuses to treat gay bloggers as journalists, which is hardly unexpected. What is surprising is how a reporter from the Southern Voice, part of a network of gay print media which reaches 400,000 readers weekly, was went unrecognized and marginalized despite behaving in a professional maner at Love Won Out Atlanta. Laura Douglas-Brown had some things to say on SoVo.com that really shows Exodus may proclaim “freedom from homosexuality” (to straight voters) but really doesn’t give a damn if actual gay people ever hear the message.
Contrast that to the treatment Dyana Bagby, Southern Voice news editor, received when she covered “Love Won Out,” Focus on the Family’s traveling ex-gay conference, last weekend at First Baptist Church of Woodstock.
The event’s media coordinator was initially happy to help Bagby when she called to inquire about press credentials. But when the man learned that Southern Voice covers gay issues, his attitude immediately changed.
Gay newspapers are banned from obtaining press credentials for Love Won Out, he said, and we could attend only by paying the $60 fee as a member of the public — although several other media outlets attended free-of-charge.
When Bagby attempted to use a digital recorder to take notes during a morning lecture by anti-gay researcher Joseph Nicolosi — as any attendee might want to do — she was told that the sessions could not be recorded. She immediately stopped.
Later in the day, Bagby asked directions to a press conference hosted by Focus on the Family, and was hostilely told that she would not be allowed to attend. Keep in mind that in most cases, press credentials are not required to attend press conferences — they are almost always public events attended by both media and others interested in the particular issue. In fact, most organizations work to increase attendance at their press events, not limit it.
The incident apparently left Bagby marked by conference organizers. She was allowed back into the conference, but when she misplaced her recorder, it was returned to her by conference staff later that afternoon — with her notes from the event, as well as a previous story, erased.
And despite the fact that she was a paid attendee, and that she had not recorded any notes since being told not to that morning, Bagby was then escorted out of the conference and all the way to her car, where she was watched to make sure she drove away rather than trying to interview any conference attendees on their own time outside of the event.