Some blogs are born newsy, some achieve news, and others have news thrust upon them. For GayRVA.com, just a year and a half old, the story's a little bit of each.
Richmond native Kevin Clay launched the website as a blog in March 2009. His early outreach to organizations such as the Gay Community Center of Richmond and the Richmond Triangle Players, combined with old-fashioned hustle — a launch party just a few months after the blog started brought 300 guests to the New York Deli — seemed to pay off. It signaled the site's arrival to leading players, advertisers and community members seeking an outlet in a still-conservative town for news related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.
“To gain that amount of momentum that quickly has been very humbling,” says Clay, a Virginia Commonwealth University graduate.
Clay corrals a volunteer staff of contributors and photographers, coordinates multimedia, social media and advertising and is building a sales team with the hope that he can soon run the website full-time — his day job is administering a local department store.
Clay has worked with similar groups on a recent gay tourism initiative, Rainbow Over Richmond, and he seems to enjoy his role as a local political watchdog, gleefully posting video of Gov. Bob McDonnell's transgendered former brother-in-law speaking at a gay rights rally in April and reporting stories such as American Family Fitness' denial of a family membership to a lesbian couple with a child: “It's been our highest-viewed article on the website to date,” he says.
The site also was vocal during the debate on anti-discrimination policies at state colleges, spawned by an opinion by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. It also launched an Out.Spoken Richmonder of the Year award to mark its one-year anniversary.
“He's filled a giant sort of communication gap,” Philip Crosby, managing director of Richmond Triangle Players, says of Clay's rallying efforts. The site, Crosby says, has “given voice to a community in a way that I don't think we've been given a voice before.”