A Huge Loss for the LGBT Community
by: Robert Stinson
Michael Portantino, once publisher of the Gay and Lesbian Times, has unfortunately committed suicide. According to The San Diego County Medical Examinerâ€™s Office, Michael took his own life by jumping from the top of the Park Manor Suites Wednesday night. In an unfortunate turn of events, â€œThe San Diego Reader published an article titled â€œEx-Gay Community Publisher Portantino Takes Own Lifeâ€ where they proceeded to drag Michaelâ€™s name through the mud with reckless disregard for his family. Controversy or not, this is a terrible moment for members of the LGBT Community and we at NUG personally send our condolences to his family including his daughter and brother Senator Anthony Portantino of the 44th district.
Michael single handedly saved the publication from going under when he purchased it 1989. At that time San Diego was a lot more hostile to LGBT entrepreneurs who wanted to conduct business in the city. Through the years The Gay and Lesbian Times became the platform from which activists, politicians, nonprofit organizations and everyday people could voice their opinions in a non-judgmental environment.
The GLT was more than the sum of its parts, it became THE VOICE for the gay and lesbian community in San Diego where before there was only whispers. In 1993, the Times covered the memorial for Allen Schindler, a Navy sailor aboard the U.S.S. Belleau Wood who was allegedly beaten to death by two fellow crewmen because he was gay. They were there when a whole generation of gay men died of AIDS because our President (Ronald Reagan) refused to lift a finger to help these poor souls. The Times was also there when a 22 year old gay college student named Mathew Sheppard was brutally murdered and left for dead in Laramie, Wyoming.
Through the years the publication endorsed many politicians such as Christine Kehoe, Tony Atkins and Todd Gloria who subsequently went on to become community leaders.
Jeri Dilno, a former editor of the Gay and Lesbian Times said in a quote to The Union Tribune that â€œMr. Portantino believed in crusading journalism. He was sometimes controversial and not afraid to point fingers. He was very committed to the community and provided a lot of free ads to struggling organizations.â€
We received a quote from Big Mike, who is a well respected advocate and fundraiser for many gay charities around the city. â€œIt saddens my heart that anyone could come to the point to give up living, especially someone you know and care about in our own community. Hearing the news about Michael Portantino broke my heart and made me think about how valuable our lives are. How important it is to stand by those friends and individuals we say we care about by showing the support and love each and every one of use deserves. Over the past 20 years as I worked with Michael he successfully helped me with my charity work, he never ever denied the opportunity to lend a hand with my efforts in helping me promote the many charities I and our community were trying to help raise money for. He was always glad to be a part of our community. I for one, along with many who knew Michael, know what a major part he had in shaping our community when we were picking up his paper The GLT every week. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with his daughter, entire family and friends. I hope and pray we as a community can find forgiveness, love and compassion in our hearts as we say good-bye to a man I consider a friend. My heart is sad.â€
Michaelâ€™s passing reflects a much larger issue that is plaguing the gay community, suicide. We hope there comes a day when people recognize homosexuals as equals in society, till then take care and donâ€™t give up the fight!
Ending your life is not the answer. It is a short term solution that has lasting impact on your loved ones. Please seek help call:
The Trevor Lifeline: (866) 488-7386
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255