Introduction into the series
Welcome to a series on Proudly dedicated to sharing the stories from a variety of influential LGBTQ+ content creators who come from all different backgrounds within the media. This series will enable us to showcase their achievements and experiences within the industry and give advice to inspire future content creators from the LGBTQ+ community.
Proudly wants to shine a light on the people who have made strides in a very competitive industry. Hopefully, this series is the start of something special for Proudly where we have been lucky enough to interview inspiring people such as Scott McGlynn, Sassify Zine, Dan Morrissey, Matt Horwood, Joe Wilmot, A Gay and A NonGay podcast hosts James Barr and Dan Hudson , Jon Holmes and Amazin LêThi who have shared their incredible stories with us already.
For today’s article we interviewed award-winning digital content producer, audience development lead, journalist and current Forbes Contributor and Head of Digital Production at Attitude Magazine Jamie Wareham. Wareham describes himself as “entrepreneurially minded and driven by stories”. He is the executive producer of the #QueerAF podcast, which is the British Podcast Awards recognised project .This podcast commissions, mentors and pays young LGBT+ students, graduates and reporters. Wareham also has a debut short film documentary called ‘Kris: The Power Of Support’ about a disabled gay man who found empowerment in his identity and started a disabled access fitness class. He regularly does public speaking about his experience in the industry as well as his personal life as a gay man, mental health and living with a hidden disability who presents as able-bodied.
Breaking into the industry – Where did it all begin?
Wareham studied music technology at college where he learnt that 80% of music purchases were made after listening to the radio. This is where his passion for media began. Then he learnt about the power of politics, voices and platforms from a college staff member whilst volunteering with the Student Union. He has always been inspired by the belief that people should be able to determine their own life from as much information as can be made available to them. Consequently, he realised the power of stories and journalism to change the world.
Breaking into the industry – Speaking up and speaking out
We always talk about the importance of representation, but sometimes we need to show it. And Wareham did just that. Unfortunately, homophobia isn’t going anywhere in the near future. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, ‘casual’ or outright, it’s still homophobia and it must stop. But we must speak up against it when we/others experience it to make it stop.
Wareham tells us a story about when he first stepped foot into the industry and heard ‘casual’, ‘jokey’ homophobia from someone who said the CEO’s pink tie was “too gay”. The CEO asked the rest of the room – full of straight people – if they thought his tie was gay and the majority said yes. When he asked Jamie, he said that an inanimate object can’t have a sexuality and the CEO said to the person who told the joke “well that settles that”. Wareham says that this gave him the confidence to continue to speak out about being LGBTQ+.
And that’s what we must continue to do – and not just with LGBTQ+ issues. We need to speak up when it is our turn and/or it is necessary to do so, and this will provide us with the courage to speak out to benefit others. For Jamie, this situation spurred him on. When an editor later told him to stop pitching ‘gay’ stories because they were too niche and wouldn’t make money, he created the #QueerAF podcast to prove him wrong. This podcast is now award-winning, has an international audience, has sold branded content and sponsorships, and is recognised across the UK and Europe as an outstanding mentoring scheme by getting people their first paid commissions. Wareham says that they continue sharing industry learnings between alumni and new producers because he wants LGBTQ+ creators to know their identity is valuable to media owners.
Finally, Wareham reminds us that we still have a lot of work to do, but the more LGBT creators there are, the more that can challenge homophobia, speak up and speak out.
Being a role model for the LGBTQ+ community
Wareham acknowledges that as a queer cis man who presents as able-bodied, he has a great deal of privilege:
“I’m really lucky to have grown up at a time where young, white, gay men had a lot of time and representation in the media”.– Jamie Wareham
But now, he says, the white gay guy’s story has been well told. So, instead, he tries to use his platform for those whose stories haven’t been told – he wants them to benefit like he did. He also says that telling others’ stories has made him see their power, which has helped him come to terms with and encouraged him to discuss his hidden disability .
Advice to aspiring LGBTQ+ journalists
Wareham emphasises the importance of marking your content to ensure it gets the visibility it deserves. To do so, he encourages learning SEO as well as web traffic, social media data analysis and some basic coding. He stresses how crucial it is to tailor your headline to display differently depending on the social media platform so that it suits the audience and they can respond appropriately. The headline is also vital because it must work in Google searches, news apps and getting it shared on social media in the first place. He further advises aspiring journalists to always look at the data from the previous day and use this to make constant changes to make it as visible as possible.
Wareham reminds us to speak to the intersectionalities we are being told to write about. Editors must pay journalists and storytellers that are the intersectionalities of the stories you want to tell. Pay black, POC and LGBTQ+ creators to tell their own stories. These stories are more valuable because they are authentic and deliver higher authority.
Often you’ll be asked to ask people without being able to pay them, but just make sure they’re aware of this and offer to support their work as much as you can through links, credits and exposure. In a very difficult time for the media industry, we must fight for freelancers, creators and professionals and ensuring we all get paid fairly for our work.
Overview – Get involved
As mentioned previously, Proudly.blog will be taking an insight into various LGBTQ+ creators to help inspire the young and upcoming journalists of today. If you have a story you would like to share or think you know someone who would like to share their story. Get in touch and get involved.
A huge thank you to Jamie Wareham for sharing his story and advice for others.
Jamie Wareham is Head of Digital Production of Attitude Magazine and executive producer of podcast #QueerAF.
Writing Contribution: Chloë Morgan
Chloë is a recent English graduate from Loughborough University who is currently seeking employment in the journalism industry as a content writer. She is extremely passionate about her voice in a positive way to help others. For work enquiries, contact Chloë by clicking the links below: