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LGBT Research Nets Award for Fla. Prof.

by Gideon Grudo
Tuesday Sep 10, 2013

Looks like Florida Atlantic University is finally having a good day.

Fred Fejes, a professor in the Department of Communication at FAU and an LGBT historian and published author, got the Roy F. Aarons Award "for his contributions to education and research on issues affecting the [LGBT] communities."

He couldn't go to Washington, D.C. on Aug. 10, and so had a friend accept the award for him from the GLBT Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

"Fred Fejes is immensely deserving of this important award," said Rhonda Gibson, head of the interest group and associate professor in the School of Journalism and

Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in a statement. "His landmark essay 'Invisibility, homophobia and heterosexism: Lesbians, Gays and the Media,' which was published 20 years ago in Critical Studies in Mass Communication, helped connect the fields of sexuality studies and communication and launch a much needed area of research. In both his research and teaching, Dr. Fejes has made major contributions to the GLBT and academic communities."

Fejes told SFGN he was notified by email.

"I wasn't expecting it," Fejes said. "There was very much a feeling of accomplishment there." To celebrate, Fejes went out to dinner with friends and reminisced over the years of research that he did then, and that he still does now. "When I first started doing this in the nineties, very few people were doing this kind of research. In a sense, I was a pioneer to this research."

Currently, Fejes teaches "Sexuality and the Media," "Studies in Gender and Sexuality and the Media," and "AIDS, Media and Society." He published "Gay Rights and Moral Panic: The Origins of America's Debate on Homosexuality" in 2008.

Fejes said that in the undergraduate classes he teaches about the LGBT community, many of the students are straight, but taking the classes to learn about their friends and family, resulting in them knowing more about the LGBT community than the LGBT community. He thinks this is a fascinating change from what used to be the case in the nineties.

Fejes' award is named after Roy Aarons (whom Fejes knew personally), a journalist himself. Belonging to the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), the group asked him to conduct a survey of gay journalists in 1989. When Aarons told the ASNE during its 1990 national convention that of the 250 journalists he surveyed, almost half were closeted, he chose to end his presentation by outing himself. Four months later he would found the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (which has a South Florida chapter).

Fejes is currently researching the research of cyber culture and the LGBT community. He looks at LGBT research - anything to do with the community and its interaction with the Internet - and tries to add to that field of research.

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