LGBT columnist John Casey discusses career in first Pride Month event

John Casey speaks to students in the first event of CMU Pride Month on April 5 in Anspach 161.

John Casey, lead columnist for the Advocate, discussed current events, politics and gave advice on April 4 in Anspach 161 during Central Michigan University’s first event in celebration of Pride Month.

Joining the audience over WebEx, Casey discussed his work as the lead columnist for the Advocate, the world's leading source of LGBT news and politics according to its website.

Casey writes about current events surrounding the LGBT community including film, politics and athletics. He said many of his columns cover topics personal to him. 

"If you go back to 90% of my columns, I start out with a personal story that relates to the subject that I'm going to write about," Casey said. "I've written about my experience with suicide and my experience with being abused by a Catholic priest. I also wrote a column about my drinking problem."

Casey's work as a columnist has allowed him to meet and talk to many prominent people. He uses those conversations to form his opinion articles. Casey has written columns based on interviews with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Senator Tammy Baldwin and Dr. Rachel Levine.

“I think the most wonderful story I've written about coming out was with Martin Jenkins,” he said. “He's the first LGBT person on the California Supreme Court and he didn't come out until his 60s.”

Athletics was another topic Casey covered. He has written about the LGBT athletes, such as Carl Nassib and their experience. Casey said athletes set trends, so it is important to see LGBT people in sports.

"Some of the athletes that I talk to say when they come out, they are always surprised at how many other athletes have come to them and said 'I'm behind you' or 'I'm with you'," he said.

Casey shared advice he received when he was a budding journalist. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni told him millions of people are going to love his writing, but millions will also hate it. He said it was disheartening at first, but he now takes it as positive criticism.

“I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve been called a bitter old queen,” Casey said.

Casey gave advice to straight journalists and allies about covering the LGBT community. He said educating oneself on the LGBT community help improve stories.

“It's easy to write about celebrities, films or someone’s new book,'' Casey said. “It's much tougher to write about the people who are in need.”

Casey's discussion was the first of several events during Pride Month. The next event, "Pidgeon Pagonis: First Do No Harm: We Need to Talk About Intersex", will take place at 7 p.m. on April 5 in the Bovee University Center Auditorium.