Transitioning at AMERICAblog

Yesterday, John announced that, after over a decade spent working tirelessly as a leading advocate and activist in the LGBT community, he is leaving AMERICAblog to blaze new trails at the United Nations.

He has asked me to take over as editor for the site, and I’m extremely excited and grateful to have the opportunity.

I started writing for AMERICAblog back in 2012, when I was a sophomore at Kenyon College. John noticed a post I wrote for NextGen Journal, liked it, and asked me if I’d be interested in writing for a larger audience. Since then, save for a seven-month stint on President Obama’s reelection campaign, writing here has been a constant for me, no matter what else I was up to. Whether I was in school in Ohio or interning in DC or working in Boston, AMERICAblog has always been an outlet for my opinions, a breeding ground for new ideas and, perhaps most importantly, a community with which to share them.

And now, after I finish out the next two weeks at my current day job, it will be a full-time gig.

That’s pretty surreal. Not too many people get to write to pay the bills, and even fewer get to do so on their own terms. As John wrote yesterday, blogging isn’t something you do for the money; you do it to (hopefully) make some positive change in the world around you. I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but I intend to pick up where John left off in that regard.

I have no intention of doing it by myself, though. I’ll have help in John’s nephew, Anthony Katsivalis, who will be handling the business side of things, along with a new cohort of young, progressive writers who will bring a diverse set of perspectives and analyses to our pages. A few of them — James Neimeister, Andrew Firestone and Josh Yazman — have already started, and more are on the way. Together, we intend to broaden AMERICAblog’s reach and continue its tradition of being a leading progressive voice in the online community.

And there is so much work to be done. John may be right when he says that the culture war for LGBT non-discrimination is winding down in our favor, but even if that’s the case, we need to run through the finish line. Going beyond that, though, our climate is changing, our criminal justice system is failing and our elections — with respect to both who funds them and who gets to vote in them — are being undermined by anti-democratic interests. And that’s just a start.

These are massive problems, and we’re going to keep raising hell about them until something is done.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • Bill Burton

    Congrats! I’ve enjoyed your columns and look forward to more.

  • PeteLI

    Good luck Jon. I’ll be reading.

  • The_Fixer

    A critical-thinking, hyper-researching, super-aware and skilled writer of a dynamo. Which is why she is such a pleasure to read.

  • Jonas Grumby

    We’re here with ya!!

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  • mirth

    Thank you, 2karmanot. Yes, it is egregiously sexist and excessively demeaning to both men and women. And anyone looking to this woman for any info about females needs to find a new source.

  • UncleBucky

    But it’s the Palin text or the Cotton text or the Rubio text or the Cruz text rearing its head in the comments that is hard to deal with, also… ;o)

  • UncleBucky

    Where it comes to religionISTs of all stripes (Super-Catlick, Fundie, Neo-Confederate, Libertarian, Anarchist…) one cannot accept or reject them on the basis of one view out of many. The views of a Libertarian in favour of marijuana legalization, thumpers staying out of bedrooms, and removing religious tax examptions is nifty, but the rest of the views unsaid make it difficult for me to take Libertarians seriously, except in terms of the Koch’s money.

    Liberation Theology has to be teased away from the Standard Issue Dogma and the behaviour of much of the Catholic Church. Likewise, LGBTIQ-friendly groups within the LDS does not excuse other Mormon nonsense.

    Well, we might not included “conservatives” here, but we can “tolerate” them and their contributions, but be ready for some push-back.

  • UncleBucky

    All voices are welcome, I think. But those who are outliers (no pun) should expect to be commented on and argued with respectably at first, and if they don’t come down to Earth, decisively at the end.

    I tried to be conservative years ago, but then I got educated (seriously) and found the facts, which have a liberal bias, sorry. After a summer in Europe, being schooled, as it happens to be, I came back with a much better perspective. √

    Now, with that same perspective, I want to leave anymore.

  • UncleBucky

    Her text is easy to read, it’s direct and it’s beautiful. She’s GOOOOOD!

  • UncleBucky

    A very nice post! I identify with it a lot.

  • UncleBucky

    3.14159

    Or if you’re Biblically oriented, 3.0

    All Hail PIE Day. Yeah, I’m celeberating the dessert, not the number.

  • 2karmanot

    LOL Ain’t that the truth…..definitely a space where ‘asshole’ has to contain a few asterisks. :-)

  • 2karmanot

    Indeed! Worthy, worthy!

  • UncleBucky

    I join in the transition. While I am not a blogger, and have little desire to write longer articles or diaries (as on DailyKos), I like to read others’ contributions and chime in.

    Go Jon Green!

  • 2karmanot

    ” she concurred, and explained that, in her view, while men go online for
    sex and to fight (aka politics), women go online to find community” This kind of stereotypical thinking is exactly the problem.

  • 2karmanot

    Indeed!

  • 2karmanot

    Becca is a dynamo and always a pleasure to read.

  • 2karmanot

    I miss the old Santa Fe days, when it was a two lane highway and those adobe long houses were rent affordable.

  • 2karmanot

    A moving and embracing comment. Well done!

  • 2karmanot

    YES!!!

  • HeartlandLiberal

    Glad to see this. I wondered if the blog would continue. I will keep reading as long as it continues in the same spirit with the same reality and fact based approach to the issues. Good luck and best wishes for the success of this site. As for the finish line? I don’t know. I am originally from Alabama, and I would suggest that the news out of that state suggests we still have a ways to go to get some people out of the 19th century into the 21st. Or maybe out of the Middle Ages. Not sure just which sometimes. Someone put the state of Alabama up for sale on Ebay yesterday. The auction is down now, but you can see screen shots in a story at al.com: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/03/the_state_of_alabama_was_brief.html#incart_river

  • FLL

    I agree about online voting. Online voting seems like it will always be too full of security holes to ever be a real option. Hackers (whether domestic or foreign) will always try to be one step ahead of the Board of Elections. It just strikes me as a bad idea.

  • emjayay

    ” immediate presumption of guilt we so enjoy inflicting on others in the online world :)”

    I have no idea what you are talking about. I have enjoyed the unique combination of national politics and gay issues here for years. I have tried to make substantive comments from time to time, although I was rather stunned a while back when I was called an Obamabot by one or two commenters a while back.

    I mentioned Becca because she has written so many great comments combining insights with, like you, personal stuff that make her a real personal online presence. I thought she was in some way a part of the team and I believe you wrote something to that effect at some point. Then I believe she posted a comment indicating the change was news to her, and I thought she would have known it was coming.

    And why the quotes on “it”? Was there something offensive about that word use?
    Kind of like that Obamabot accusation after I guess some comment expressing less than universal opposition to everything Obama, I am baffled by this apparent defensiveness over I don’t know what.

    Oh well, a new chapter is opening here at one of my top favorite blogs.

  • Quilla

    Oh, please. Conservatives clog the universe. Don’t let them stop here.

  • Indigo

    It certainly looks like a smooth transition. My thought would be that there is no finish line, LBGT issues will remain controversial for many years but the focal point is settled, we’re a legitimate part of humanity with human rights equal to everybody else’s. In itself, that’s a major accomplishment, especially in the face of the rabid fury of those who feel threatened by their overheated imaginations.

    Meanwhile, today is Pi Day! 3.1415 ~ 3/14/15
    Let all geeks rejoice!

  • Hue-Man

    I used to read Andrew Sullivan (except religious bumpf) and David Frum (except Israel) to gain an understanding of where the “sane” conservative thinking was headed. I didn’t always agree with their positions but understood their backgrounds well enough to appreciate their perspectives. I haven’t found anyone to replace either of them.

    I don’t know that a conservative voice would fit in at Americablog nor would a conservative rush at the opportunity! I would rather read stuff that you’re passionate about than the horse-race nonsense that seems to fill DailyKos. There are so many more important issues “on the Left” that deserve blogger and reader attention.

    I’ll extend the female voice comments above to include people of different races and cultures. I don’t want to sound like a Stephen Colbert character but I don’t have a “woman” switch or a “Japanese” voiceover when I read a web posting – each blogger has a different human experience to relate.

  • Hue-Man

    On the “Au Revoir” post, I expressed my disagreement about the LGBT race being over and won. My pessimism is based on how far the U.S. has to go to achieve the same equality rights that we have in the Socialist North – employment, housing, retail services. But even beyond that there are important issues that still haven’t been dealt with.

    1. This week, Alberta passed a law allowing GSAs to be set up in all schools where they are requested. The Catholic schools – 100% taxpayer funded – have threatened to OUT any student who joins a GSA. http://globalnews.ca/news/1876577/historic-alberta-gsa-bill-will-save-lives/

    2. “A proposed Ontario private member’s bill would prohibit any therapies aimed at changing the sexual orientation or gender identity of youth under the age of 18 and delist the therapies from coverage under provincial healthcare.”

    “If it does pass, Ontario would be the only Canadian province to ban conversion and reparative therapy.” http://dailyxtra.com/toronto/news/ontario-ndp-mpp-moves-ban-conversion-therapy-100384

    3. Federal human rights law does not apply to transgender people. The legislation, C-279, is held-up in the Senate by Conservatives who have “bathroom” worries. It’s likely to die before the federal election scheduled for later this year. Politicians have avoided the entire transgender issue, leaving it to cities and local school boards to work out accommodation problems.

    4. LGBT youth homelessness is a problem on the same scale as the U.S. With high levels of immigration, lesbian and gay youth are frequently in conflict with their parents’ culture. HuffPo headline today: “‘This Is Worse Than Death’: B.C. Dad Reacts To His Son Coming Out” http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/03/13/vancouver-teen-comes-out-dad-response_n_6859974.html

    These are difficult issues that will be opposed by the religious right. They’re not simple to explain like marriage equality and are unlikely to attract the likes of Boies and Olson. Worse, they have to be fought on state and local territory without a national impetus. Finally, when marriage equality is achieved, will the activists polish their medals and retire to their barcaloungers?!

  • Hue-Man

    I’m starting to believe that COMPULSORY voting using mail-in ballots is the way to stop the voter-suppression tactics. Permanent voting lists updated with federal, state, city tax returns and driver’s license renewals.

    I don’t believe that any online voting system can meet both objectives – tamper-free tabulation AND ballot secrecy.

  • i’ve been negligently absent for many, many a moon (okay, years) from here, this is not necessarily relevant to JA’s leaving (only just learned of it now) but this is from me 9 years ago today

    i pray my wants to lemmy
    for he knows from where i bitch
    i work to meet my needs of life
    but he taught me to eat the rich

    http://www.portune.com/blogs/thehueandcry/2006/03/survival-of-richest.html#c114227068845416170

    john, where ever do you go, what ever do you do, keep up the good fight, comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable in whatever you do

  • Hey I’ll still be on Facebook, though it may be the somewhat tamer velvet dogs playing poker version of me ;-)

  • What a beautiful comment. And I’d probably say that I am genuine but I’ve also learned to play the system, depending on the system. It doesn’t mean I’m beholden to it, or that I’d compromise on important principles, but I’ve always believed that part of being successful in politics is PR, or knowing how too play people, the media, congress and more. That doesn’t mean you need to lie to so it, which is one of my critiques of those who think that all PR is fluff or lies, or that all lobbying is bad for that matter.

    Anyway that was just a tangent. That really was a lovely comment. You write well. You should write for americablog. :-)

  • mirth

    Me too, a hiker. The Philmont Scout Ranch is near Taos, right? Yes, it’s beautiful there.

  • dave3137

    My only time in NM was a Scout trip to Philmont. But I loved hiking in those hills.

  • mirth

    I did read the whole thing and very much enjoyed it.

    Winter is relatively short and usually mild here in NM, thankfully, but that doesn’t lessen the joy of Spring. After this winter, I glad you have yours.

  • dave3137

    Thanks, Mirth. Obviously you read the whole post! And it was a good day. Spring has sprung, and I feel energized after a pretty harsh winter.

  • mirth

    Happy B’day, Dave.

  • dave3137

    John, I want to thank you for your years of “paying attention” and thinking about what you observed and commenting. In the few instances where I had a comment about what you’d written, you responded personally and we discussed any differences of opinion or misunderstandings we might have had. Once I discovered AmericaBlog, I’ve been a regular reader. So I want to thank you again for being such a “real” guy. As a former teacher, I want to say something that I know might be misunderstood. There were the kids who “played the system” and then there were the kids who didn’t. Mostly the ones who didn’t were younger and/or “special needs.” I came to love the ones who didn’t play the game. I’m NOT COMPARING you to a special need kid except in the sense that as far as I’ve been aware of you, you haven’t lost the “genuineness” that I so appreciate among those kids — and among so few adults.

    Jon, a hearty welcome. I’m glad you’re up to the challenge. I’m a gay guy (age 68 as of today) who’s gone through a few things that might be considered traumatic (getting thrown out of the Navy, for example, or getting fired from a teaching job because “the boys like you too much.” But mostly, I consider myself among the most fortunate people on earth. I must have been a pretty decent guy in a previous life…. How many small town kids get full rides to Brown? How many people find themselves alone in the Sistine Chapel for 30 minutes? How many gay teachers get compared by former (all straight) students to the Robin Williams character in Dead Poets Society?

    There are SO MANY people out there, many of whom we’d be surprised about, who care far more about who we are than who we have sex with. This is NOT to downplay the homophobia. It’s real, and it’s sometimes dangerous. But my intent is to up-play (is there such a word?) the support we have.

    The more of us who have come out, the more the stereotypes have fallen. Just like during WWII, many white men and women who never had dealt with people of other races found that their assumptions were just plain wrong.

    It’s not a done deal by any means, but I’d like to leave you with a quick anecdote. As I was being thrown out of the Navy, a former officer of mine testified. He was given the opportunity to recant his excellent performance evaluations of me. He stiffened in the witness box; his hands turned white from gripping the arms of the chair. And finally he said, “Of COURSE I meant them. I SIGNED them, didn’t I?” Dead silence for a few moments, until the presiding officer told the questioning attorney to move on. This was 1968, and a Naval officer didn’t give a shit that I was gay. He cared about his honor, and the fact that he found my performance superior.

    So Jon, we have more and more of those allies, sometimes just quiet ones, sometimes more active ones, but they are there. They were there in 1968, when I least expected them, and then were there when I retired and kids told me I was their version of Robin Williams.

    “We” tend to emphasize those who act against our best interests. And that’s a good thing, really. We need to know. But “we” can’t forget that the vast majority of people who know we’re gay treat us like everyone else. And isn’t that the point?

    All the best to you in this new and challenging endeavor.

    Dave

  • Agreed. It’s one thing to have an independent viewpoint that doesn’t fit into the standards right/left false binary, but if we wanted to hear from the right there are plenty of blogs for that crap.

  • Baal

    Ha ha. Actually I am not that fictional character. I am Ba’al. The Canaanite fertility deity and hence a different fictional character. i would use the apostrophe here to make that clear, but it freaks out internet message boards.

    Damn, though, this is going to be very strange without you.

  • Baal

    Fuck that. It’s not like were aren’t inundated with that crap already. I come here for a haven.

  • mirth

    I’d be fearful of a proselytizing US-style swarm, but a religious perspective as you describe that champions justice, including a woman’s right of self-determination as well as equal rights for all citizens, which I know from personal experience does exist, is intriguing and would definitely be a refreshing departure from our usual and decidedly harmful fundy-isms.

  • FLL

    :)

  • FLL

    I am the very last person who would claim to be religionist, but there are those (in South America and Central America, for example) who describe their philosophy as “liberationist theology,” claiming that spiritual revelation leads people to fight against unjust political and social structures. And then there are Libertarians, who are generally acknowledged to be a type of conservatives. I am a member of neither group, but, as you say, their occasional input could increase comment numbers and create lively conversations. Agreed.

  • mirth

    “…but that’s Jon and Anthony’s call now.”

    Awww shoot, tissue please.

  • mirth

    I certainly know how diligently you have tried to bring on female writers, and, for that matter, how you have included female perspectives (or maybe “sensitivities” is a better word) to your own writing and to much appreciation of all of your readers.

    Maybe among Jon’s acquaintances he can find candidates with newer voices, perhaps those who haven’t blogged before and would welcome the opportunity with such a wide audience. I imagine most here would welcome that.

  • AlexanderHamiltonsGhost

    Might I add that beyond his LGBT activism, John was always a leading progressive fighter.

  • AlexanderHamiltonsGhost

    Why on god’s earth would you want an opposition viewpoint here? They can be honest all they want, but almost everything they stand for and hope to achieve (and certainly the politicians they support) stand in direct opposition to what we and this blog are trying to do. Find me one – one! – honest, compassionate conservative with a history of fighting for a just cause who also hasn’t backed some seriously retrograde, conservative causes. Seriously, just one. You won’t, because none exist.

  • mirth

    Well, FLL, we two have found something we mostly agree on. I’m glad it’s happened. It’s a Good Thing!

    I’m not so crazy about including those who come from a strictly religious standpoint or drawing a bunch of religionists from the web to the threads, and certainly not restricted to only one religion, but if their scope was wide enough and thoughtful enough to include socio-political subjects like, say, the merits, or not, of removing religious tax exemptions, that could be interesting and perhaps create lively discussions.

  • Well, AMERICAblog wasn’t earning enough money to even pay my mortgage, so incentives were limited to adulation :)

  • I would mind a reasonable conservative viewpoint, but that’s Jon and Anthony’s call now.

  • I agree. Perhaps more folks need to let her know just how good she really is ;-)

  • FLL

    What I respect most of all is honesty. An occasional conservative viewpoint (honestly stated)—whether Libertarian, free-market or Christian—would be a boon to this blog, not a detriment. It would, as you say, increase the comment numbers. I think it would also increase Americablog’s exposure on the Internet. Good suggestion, mirth.

  • FLL

    Americablog should offer Becca an incentive of some kind. ;)

  • FLL

    I’ve always believed that good writing is a combination of good writing style and critical thinking. I enjoy reading Becca’s writing because there are so many who have good writing style but so few—like Becca—who also add the crucial element of critical thinking.

  • Thanks :) And I’m sure you’re pretty decent too, in spite of everything you did to SG1.

    (That’s a joke: http://stargate.wikia.com/wiki/Ba'al )

  • Yep, I was thinking the same thing. Having said that, you’d be surprised how difficult it is to get women to blog for us — and not just for us. A well known conservative blogger told me they have the same problem on the right. And I was on a talk show once on Sirius, and an editor from AfterEllen (a lesbian site) was there, and she concurred, and explained that, in her view, while men go online for sex and to fight (aka politics), women go online to find community. And they’re less likely, in her view, to want to stake a name out for themselves, and even moreso, put themselves out there polemically and politically.

    It’s been an ongoing problem for 11 years. I had asked so many women to write for us, and they never keep with it like the guys have. At this point, I’m open to suggestions. But it’s an issue that perhaps people focused on women’s issues need to ponder some more.

  • Oh my, I see my leaving hasn’t quelled any of the immediate presumption of guilt we so enjoy inflicting on others in the online world :)

    Yes, some of those writers are gay. And Jon hopes to get even more of the LGBT persuasion.

    And yes, Becca is and always has been a part of “it,” now and moving forward. So is anyone else who can write well, think well, and is interested in blogging her (I’ve made the public offer before). She’s just been busy with work, so hasn’t been able to write. As she can confirm, I regularly beg her to write more if she has the time :)

  • emjayay

    But are any of these writers gay? Is BeccaM a part of it (apparently not), or just another possible commenter?

  • mirth

    From the reader’s perspective the transition has been sad but smooth, which, considering Americablog is John Aravosis, is a feat and it appears that the majority of us think John has chosen well. Your stellar writing, Jon, is largely responsible for that and I look forward to more of it.

    A request: As you continue to gather post contributors, I hope emphasis will be placed on a female voice as well as one of a strong Left stance. Personally, I’m down with an intelligent (occasional) conservative viewpoint, which would likely give a sharp rise in comment numbers and generate lively conversations. It’s all a balancing act, but each would be welcomed, I’m pretty sure.

    Above all, I think we are all happy that Ab continues and eager to see what’s ahead.

  • 2karmanot

    Congratulations Jon. We look forward to your articles. And, John, Thank you for all these incredible past years of exceptional effort in bringing us the truth behind the news. Good luck on your new endeavor. Thank you for a life devoted to human rights and justice for our LGBT communities. AmericaBlog has been a must read in this household for so many years and we feel confident you have passed the torch to the best.

  • Baal

    Keep it going.

    Heartfelt best wishes to John, a genuinely decent human being who I only know through his posts here.

  • FLL

    Whenever I vote, I always see plenty of third-party and independent candidates on the ballot. Doesn’t everyone else? The real problem always seems to be huge lines (especially in African-American precincts) and people giving up in frustration and leaving without voting. The limitation on early voting days and times is becoming more and more blatant. It’s all an insult to the memory of the Voting Rights Act. A universal-vote-by-mail option (as in Colorado) or a national voting holiday could be possible fixes.

    You’ve noted some of the most pressing problems facing us, such as climate change and the criminal justice system, but may I suggest that if we don’t somehow make voting completely accessible, we won’t even get the opportunity to address the other problems.

  • goulo

    Good luck to you. I’ve been reading this blog for years and look forward to it continuing!

  • The_Fixer

    Best of luck, John and Jon. I will still visit this site daily (more than once, on most days) and look forward to what you’ll be bringing us.

    Thanks, Jon, for stepping up and keeping Americablog on the web. There are few places on the web that feature intelligent activism and great discussion, and this is one of the best.

  • B00Z

    John, thanks for the years of enlightenment. I don’t always agree with your insight but I always appreciate it. Your devotion to gay affairs has been without parallel in the community. Good luck moving forward!

    And Jon, welcome aboard. I look forward to the upcoming changes and wish you many years of success!

  • Me likey :-)

  • 2patricius2

    Congratulations, Jon. Sounds like some good things coming down the pike. And you are right there are big problems to be dealt with. One thing I realized in listening to the coverage of the Selma events on C-SPAN, along with the president’s address, is that things were much worse at the time of the original Selma march. But the Voting Rights Act was passed despite much greater opposition than now. People pressed on despite the opposition and positive change happened. So there is good reason to hope as we press on today.

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