The equality agenda: how state-based LGBT advocacy organizations define a 21st century movement while campaigning for change from the ground up Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Mundy, Dean E.
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media
  • Social movements provide rich sites of investigation, ideal forums through which to examine the various communicative processes that influence the quest for social change. Research of the gay movement has investigated these communicative processes, but often from the perspective of national movement organizations and national discourse. Most of the fundamental rights and protections central to the movement, however, exist at the state level. Accordingly, this dissertation explores how state-focused LGBT advocacy organizations organize and execute their communication strategies and examines if, how, and the extent to which state-focused media reflect those strategies in their coverage of issues facing the LGBT community. Interviews with leaders from state LGBT advocacy organizations in Massachusetts, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Iowa, and Washington (state), and an interview with the executive director of the national federation of state-based LGBT advocacy organizations, provide important insight regarding 21st century LGBT advocacy and the crucial role of the state lens in the gay movement. State organizations currently campaign for inclusive laws around four core policy areas: non-discrimination, hate crimes, safe schools, and relationship recognition. The state-focused advocacy philosophy posits that change occurs from the ground up; substantive change at the state and national level first requires a critical mass of support in local communities. By using LGBT citizens and allies as community spokespersons, and communicating authentic, personal stories of the LGBT experience, state-based LGBT advocacy organizations establish a constant and consistent drumbeat of messaging--with a variety of stakeholders--that reinforces LGBT issues as mainstream concerns. The interview findings provided a benchmark from which to analyze state-focused print media coverage of the LGBT community. Coverage supported participant comments regarding the challenges and opportunities they experience working with the media. Media sometimes use inappropriate terminology and juxtapose inappropriate counterpoints, but they present the personal, authentic LGBT story and the positive, inclusive messages of equality as communicated by organizational spokespersons. Media also capitalize on opportunities to present the more radical voice, which often appears in the form of an anti-LGBT counterpoint. Most importantly, the content analysis reinforced the merit of communication strategies focused on change from the ground up, not the top down.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication."
  • Boynton, Lois A.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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