HRC Blog

Reflections on Pam’s House Blend from 2007

pam's house blendYesterday, blogger Pam Spaulding announced that she would be closing her site, Pam's House Blend, after nine years. We wish her all the best in future endeavors.

In 2007, Pam sat down with HRC for a profile on her and Pam's House Blend in our Equality Magazine. Check out the interview below.

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Pam Spaulding’s blog is one you want to definitely keep an eye on – if you don’t already. Spaulding, 44, is the whirling force behind Pam’s House Blend, one of the most admired and beloved blogs coming out of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. As an out lesbian living in the South, a woman of color, and a shrewd political commentator, she offers a singular voice that cuts through the congested blogosphere. Every week, more 40,000 visitors – gay and anti-gay alike – stop in.

Spaulding’s blog has become a high-profile counterpoint to right-wing, anti-gay propaganda. It’s also a national outlet for discussing election issues, the Iraq War and anything else on which she has an opinion. Spaulding, of course, will be the first tell you how mind-blowing it is to know how much of a voice she has – considering she’s just “someone typing away opinions as a hobby in their jammies in the dead of night in Durham, N.C.”

Recently, Spaulding took time from her busy work-by-day (she’s an IT manager at Duke University), blog-by-night schedule to talk to HRC’s Chris Johnson about “third rail” topics, married life and, especially, the Larry Craigs of the world.

Why did you start blogging? How did you come up with the name, Pam’s House Blend?

I was completely frustrated by the political climate when the launched the Blend in July 2004. The religious right and the Republican Party were working mightily to re-elect Bush and other social conservatives by continually flogging LGBT citizens…I had to find an outlet to put my thoughts down.

The name of the blog was originally a play on words about coffee – ironically, I don’t drink it myself – reflecting my own blend of opinions and oddball takes on life and political matters. Once the Blend became more popular, and the commenters found their way there and shared their opinions, it became the idea of the blog being branded as a welcoming “coffeehouse” where civil conversations and debates could take place. It just sort of fell into place.

Why do you think your blog is so popular?

There aren’t too many black Southern lesbians blogging about politics. I’m a mixed bag of perspectives in other ways as well. I lived for many years in New York City – Hollis, Queens and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in the ‘70s and ‘80s – as well as it Durham, N.C., where I grew up and reside now, so I’m well aware of the regional cultural divides. I’ve also been poor (nearly homeless in fact), but I have also lived a middle-class existence as well. All of these circumstances inform my work….And perhaps because… I’m really just an average person – I’m not a lobbyist, a political consultant or a professional activist – living my life out and proud in a Red-turning-Purple state….

Blogs are so personality-driven. What part of your personality really comes out when you write?

I think it depends on the blog post in question. My blunt, snarky, sarcastic side comes out at times, usually when dealing with issues such as the classic Republican sexual hypocrites, you know, the ones who engage in the most outlandish sexual behavior while attempting to pry into your bedroom with legislation or endless bible-thumping.

When I write more long-form posts, such as one I wrote about my religious beliefs, I am usually just … opening myself up in a way that encourages readers to share their views in the comments. I’m not afraid of being vulnerable out there.

You’ve done substantial reporting on issues surrounding the ultra right and its efforts to exploit homophobia. What has surprised you the most in your research into that?

I think the more I learn about the right wing, the more I’m convinced that they all need a good therapist. The level of dysfunction, intellectual inconsistency, hypocrisy and even worse, the craven amount of fund raising by fearmongering is outlandish.

One of my most interesting interviews was with former staff attorney for the American Family Association, Joe Murray, a conservative who has since “come out” as an ally for LGBT rights….

For whatever reason, Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth Against Homosexuality seems to like to spar with me…. Part of his efforts related to “exposing” the agenda is to attend events like Chicago’s International Mr. Leather (on multiple occasions) undercover is leather gear to take pictures – to inform his readership, or course. Now how can I not write about that?

A busy blog and a day job … How do you do it? Lots of coffee?

No coffee, but quite a bit of English breakfast tea, and a few Chessman cookies! The grind of writing 5-7 articles a day is taxing.

Do you think the majority of mainstream journalists now understand the power of the blog? They’re your most avid readers, right?

Journalists are reading the blogs, but don’t quite understand them very well yet. It’s still somewhat of a wild west out here in blogtopia.

There are no deadlines – we’re out here 24/7, analyzing and comparing stories, digging up facts and inconsistencies, that makes it difficult to compete. On the other hand, most bloggers are quite dependent on the mainstream media to do the original reporting – we do analysis and follow-up. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

The bottom line is that many talented bloggers don’t have the ad revenue, infrastructure or corporate expense account to travel and do original reporting that the mainstream press has.

Are you optimistic that more lesbians will launch blogs? Any advice to those who do?

I hope there are more out there ready to take the plunge! More voices and perspectives are welcome. One piece of advice – don’t be afraid to promote your work by commenting and leaving links to your work (known as ‘blogwhoring’) at sites you visit that have a similar feel. E-mail links to your favorite bloggers – nice ones will provide link love (link back to your blog). That’s how I gained readership – and it’s the right thing to do.

Regional and state blogging, when it comes to LGBT issues, are fertile ground to break into. Some of my popular entries are about first hand accounts (sometimes with photos or video) passed on from other bloggers about news events in their area that don’t hit the major media – fundamentalist protests of local pro-LGBT legislation, gains made that can inform people in other small towns or cities about how to effect change at the local level. All of this is powerful activism – sharing information.

And finally – find a writing style that is comfortable to you. Many blogs are personality driven, I find those interesting.

What has been the most surprising impact of your blog that you can point to?

That what I write seems to resonate with so many people all over the country – and around the world. It’s pretty clear that there are many ways we can learn from one another as we work toward the common goal of equality. Our differences sometimes result in our talking past one another and not keeping our eyes on the prize of civil rights for all.

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