It’s not niche. It’s news.

June 26, 2024

In 2003, my news director threatened to fire me.

His neck swelled with rage as he accused me of making our Houston morning newscast “too niche” by hosting a live Q&A with Mitchell Katine, the local attorney who helped win a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

“Too niche” was his southern code for “too gay” since that case was Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned laws outlawing gay sex.

I thought I would be fired again when Reuters published a photo of me with this caption:

~ Curtis Sparrer of Houston holds up his rainbow flag to have a picture taken with protestor Don Buzee of Baytown, Texas, on Houston’s City Hall Plaza during a celebration of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas, June 26, 2003. The court on Thursday struck down sodomy laws as an unconstitutional violation of privacy. ~

“You’re supposed to cover the news, not be the news,” my news director spat as he threw the photos at me. He then demanded I calendar times with him when I would be “moonlighting as a gay activist.”

Being a mature man in my twenties, I de-escalated the situation smoothly and professionally by grabbing a marker AND BLACKING OUT EVERY DAY OF THE CALENDAR.

“If not accepting being a second-class citizen makes me a so-called ‘gay activist,’ then my moonlighting will be a daily occurrence!”

It was not quite “give me liberty or give me death,” but it certainly didn’t leave much room for further professional development. I applied for jobs throughout the country with the conviction of a young person who had never needed to compromise.

Two San Francisco stations called me first.

“That’s not niche; that’s news,” concluded a news director who heard a less fiery version of those events. She offered me the producer job for her flagship newscast, the 9 PM news. 

However, my Houston news director insisted I stay, threatening to sue for breach of my contract. “You’ve threatened to fire me twice,” I pleaded. “I need to go.”

He insisted I misunderstood.

But I had an ace up my sleeve.    

“You should take it up with my attorney, Mitchell Katine.”

When the name didn’t register like one of those BIG DRAMATIC moments in Law & Order, I inhaled deeply and suggested he look at the broadcast that caused him to threaten me in the first place.  

As he realized who he might be dealing with, I left his office, saying, “San Francisco knows my news judgment isn’t niche. It’s news.”

Over 20 years later, I appreciate that I could have handled the situation with more grace. My Houston news director had a family, a mortgage and an understanding of the demographics of his very conservative audience. He rightly feared being drummed out of town by a young whippersnapper producer who was simply passing through.

But just because I’m empathetic to the other side doesn’t mean I believe LGBTQIA+ issues are too niche for media coverage. 

That’s why we spoke out about brands retreating from Pride, even though the reporter told us: “I can’t tell you how many brands and agencies have refused to speak to me on Pride due to ‘sensitivities,’ some backing out of making comments at the 11th hour.”  

We responded by pointing out that retreating made no sense since the most important brands of our day are being led by the gay titans of tech, such as Apple’s Tim Cook and OpenAI’s Sam Altman.  

That spirit is behind Bospar’s decision to be San Francisco Pride’s proud award-winning PR partner for three years in a row.

It’s why we fanboy over Kara Swisher and raise our hand to be recognized as an LGBTQIA+-owned business by the San Francisco Business Times.

It’s why we successfully pitched Pride in PR to PRWeek to recognize LGBTQIA+ people in communications and recommend people from inside Bospar and outside as well. 

Fundamentally, it’s why Bospar does more than just social media decorations and lip service for Pride.

Because it’s not niche.  

It’s news.

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Curtis Sparrer Principal Bospar PR Marketing

About the author

Curtis Sparrer is a principal of Bospar PR. He has represented brands like PayPal, Tetris and the alien hunters of the SETI Institute. He is a member of the Forbes Communications Council and has written for Adweek, Forbes, the Dallas Morning News, and PRWeek. He is an active member of the National Lesbian Gay Journalist Association. Business Insider has twice listed him as one of the Top Fifty in Tech PR.