LGBT History Month 2016:  Charles Blow, Journalist and Commentator

October 4: Charles Blow, Journalist and Commentator Photo © CHARLES BLOW

“One thing the gay rights movement taught the world is the importance of being visible.”

Charles Blow is an American journalist and a columnist for The New York Times. As the only African-American columnist on the paper’s opinion pages, Blow focuses twice weekly on issues of social justice, race relations and the pitfalls of politics.

Before becoming a commentator, Blow was the youngest head of the graphics design department at The Times, a position he held for nine years. During his tenure, he helped the newspaper win several prestigious awards, including a Best of Show from the Society for News Design for coverage of the September 11 attacks. It was the first time the award had ever been given to a newspaper for outstanding graphic design.

Blow has also worked at National Geographic and The Detroit News. He regularly appears on the BBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and HBO to discuss timely topics related to his column and his own life. He came out publicly as a bisexual in 2014 in his memoir, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.” The coming-of-age account has been named a New York Times Notable Book, a Lambda Literary Award Winner and a Open Book Award nominee. In it he writes candidly about his sexuality: “In addition to being attracted to women, I could also be attracted to men. There it was, all of it. That possibility of male attraction was such a simple little harmless idea, the fight against which I had allowed to consume and almost ruin my life. The attraction and my futile attempts to ‘fix it’ had cost me my dreams.”

The book not only chronicles Blow’s struggle with identity, but also provides insights into the sexual abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of an older male cousin. The author admits that he spent years trying to unravel the relationship between the abuse and his own sexuality. He has spoken candidly on the subject on several television shows, including “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Piers Morgan Tonight” and “Anderson Cooper 360.”

Blow is a single father of three. A native of Louisiana, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.

LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Icons. Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources.

In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.