Tag Archives: GLAAD

Hero of the Week Award: March 8, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

8 Mar
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week the NCAA provided much-needed leadership in the treatment of LGBT people in college athletic programs. Recognizing the rapid change in LGBT acceptance in all aspects of college life, the NCAA sought to provide a single, comprehensive resource for campuses. The elegantly titled Champions of Respect: Inclusion of LGBTQ Student-Athletes and Staff in NCAA Programs is a welcome guide. It provides Best Practices, Policicies, and Legal Resources along with sample discussions, resources for allies, and more detailed recommendations for all aspects of the recruitment-to-graduation process.

The guide’s introduction sets the stage clearly:

Athletics departments have a responsibility to ensure that all student-athletes have an opportunity to participate in a safe, inclusive and respectful climate where they are valued for their contributions as team members and for their individual commitment and character, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Given the increasing focus on LGBT issues in professional and collegiate athletics, this single resource is very welcome indeed. Thank you, NCAA, for taking this important step. (The guide is available free of charge on the NCAA website.)

It’s been a good week for social justice, giving us two solid honorable mentions. The first goes to some performers who backed out of the 2013 National Scout Jamboree. Citing the Boy Scouts of America’s rabidly homophobic membership policy, pop-rockers Train derailed their participation on Monday. The very next day, singer Carly Rae Jepsen told the Scouts “Call me? No way.”

As an artist who believes in equality for all people, I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer.

Big thanks to GLAAD and Eagle Scout Derek Nance for bringing the Scouts’ practices to the attention of these performers.

Finally, some good news on a not-so-super situation at DC Comics. For a new digital-to-print series featuring Superman, the publisher contracted with crazed homophobe Orson Scott Card to write the first issue. Many comic shops have refused to order the issue and the push-back against DC has been strong, so far to no avail. Enter artist Chris Sprouse. Slated to pencil the Card story, Sprouse announced this week that he was not willing to be associated with the writer. The timing of his decision has forced DC to back-burner the story and rush out later issues to fill the gap. Hopefully Sprouse’s ethical stand will help the publisher to rethink their whole arrangement with Card.


Hero of the Week Award: September 21, the Toronto Blue Jays

21 Sep

Hero of the Week

Perhaps the homophobic tide is slowly turning in professional athletics. Just weeks after two NFL players made headlines with their outspoken support of marriage equality, a major league baseball team handled the homophobic actions of a player in a clear and decisive way.

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar is known for writing slogans in white paint on his eyeblack. According to teammates and news items, most of the writing is “inspirational or motivational.” Last Saturday, however, the writing was neither of these things. The eyeblack (which comes in adhesive strips making it easy to augment with words or images before applying) he wore on the field said “Tu eres maricon,” Spanish for “you are a faggot.”

The outcry was swift. Escobar held a press conference with a lame “everybody says it in the locker room” defense; he then moved on to a “it doesn’t really mean anything,” sounding like a high school kid caught slinging the word “gay” indiscriminately. He also played the “lots of my friends are gay” card although he could only name his decorator and hair stylist. fortunately, Blue Jays management didn’t buy his nonpology. After consulting with the Baseball Commissioner, they handed  Escobar a pretty stiff penalty.

The player was suspended for three games and his salary for those games (equalling an impressive $83,000 and change) will go to two charities. The bulk will go to the relatively new You Can Play project, whose mission is:

You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. […] You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.

What a perfect choice! The balance of the penalty will go to GLAAD, another fitting selection. Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos described the decision clearly.

Taking away from all of this, there is a problem not only in sports but a problem in society, and how do we move forward to help with that problem? If at the end of the day the Blue Jays become a vehicle and Yunel becomes a vehicle to improve things and make them better, as unfortunate as this is, hopefully some good will come from it.

The management team also acknowledged their responsibility, noting that eyeblack writing is so common that it is often overlooked. They hope that this action will make players think twice and are instructing coaches to pay closer attention in the future. Nicely done, Blue Jays, and thank you.

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 16, Vito Russo

16 Jun

Today we honor and celebrate a man whose life work forced everyone to take a hard look at media stereotyping of the LGBT community. Vito Russo was born in 1946 in New York. He had a passion for film and began hosting screenings of camp classics for the Gay Activist Alliance in 1972. As he watched the films, he noted the shallow and often demeaning stereotyping of gay and lesbian characters. Over time, he developed a series of lectures on the topic and began investigating broader media portrayals.

In 1981, Russo published the first book to look at the cinematic treatment of LGBT people and the lives of gay and lesbian actors, The Celluloid Closet. Building on that research, he wrote and produced a series for public television, Our Time, which was the first serious documentary about the gay community.

Russo’s growing concern about the portrayals of gay men, especially in light of the AIDS crisis, led him to create the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in 1985. This organization has become a powerful watchdog, encouraging positive and accurate media presentations and taking biased and demeaning work to task. GLAAD’s mission, which captures the spirit of Russo’s life, is to

amplify the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality.

Russo published an expanded edition of The Celluloid Closet in 1986 and participated in the AIDS documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt in 1989. He began teaching a course at UC Santa Cruz based on his book. Sadly, Russo died of AIDS-related complications in 1990. His book was adapted into a powerful documentary also calledThe Celluloid Closet in 1996. GLAAD created the Vito Russo Award as the centerpiece of their annual media awards; it is given to a celebrity whose efforts help advance LGBT equality.

Vito Russo was a pioneer whose tenactiy was matched by wit and charm. His efforts have helped improve the lives of all LGBT people by creating a more responsible media and encouraging accurate and positive images.

Hero of the Week Award: April 20, Josh Hutcherson

20 Apr

Hero of the Week

This week it is a real pleasure to honor a rising Hollywood star who has a great sense of activism and priorities. Josh Hutcherson, only 19, has been in films for half his life. He’s currently starring in the blockbuster book adaptation The Hunger Games. He also co-starred in the wonderful (but very dark) 2010 film The Kids Are Alright as one of two kids growing up with two lesbian parents. In a recent interview with E! Online, Hutcherson focuses on his work with the group Straight But Not Narrow.

Hutcherson is very focused on gay rights, in part because he lost two uncles to HIV while he was too young to really get to know them. He also credits his mother with helping establish his sense of activism and advocacy.

My mom has always been a big advocate, especially in the gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual community so for me it’s always been a part of my soul.

Even more impressive in one so young, Hutcherson is much prouder of his advocacy work than his celebrity status.

Acting is one thing, but actually trying to change the world and the way people think to make people’s lives better? That’s the stuff I’m most proud of.

This weekend he will become the youngest recipient of the GLAAD Vanguard Award, joining the likes of the great Elizabeth Taylor. I look forward to watching this young man continue to make his mark on the world.

Honorable mention this week goes to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. How shocking to see this group acting in a truly Christian way! In a strongly worded letter to Congress, the Bishops tear into the budget proposal put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, pointing out how it violates Catholic precepts by putting the poor, vulnerable, and needy at risk.

The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated. Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources.

Given recent political meddling by Bishops regarding women’s health and this week’s BWA runner-up, Bishop Daniel Jenky, comparing the President to Hitler, it is a pleasant surprise to see a strong, truly moral message from this group.

Hero of the Week Award: March 16, GLAAD

16 Mar

Hero of the Week

In a world where the so-called liberal media are desperate to demonstrate their editorial balance, homophobic monsters often serve as commentators on news programs. Even though opposing civil rights is bigotry, not balance, cowardly editorial policies often allow the likes of Matt Barber, Maggie Gallagher, and Tony Perkins to spew their hate as though it was a reasonable counterpoint. This week GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) launched a new project to help counter the use of representatives of designated hate groups as reasonable contributors to the national dialogue.

The Commentator Accountability Project provides profiles of over two dozen of the most nefarious and frequently heard anti-gay bigots. GLAADCAP does the research that effective reporting organizations ought to do for themselves, demonstrating the true nature of these people who are often careful to moderate their commentary on national news programs. GLAAD describes the Project in this way:

[It] is designed to shine a big, bright light on the extreme views of the vast majority of prominent anti-LGBT talkers. Bizarre allusions to Nazi Germany. Frequent accusations of satanic influence. Apocalyptic predictions for a world in which LGBT citizens are treated equally. Vile claims that the AIDS epidemic is God’s judgment. Dehumanizing comparisons of loving same-sex relationships to crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, or “jumping off a 10-story building.” The truth is, many newsrooms don’t actually know the extent of the animosity that these anti-LGBT activists hold towards the LGBT community. They’re often careful not to say these things in the mainstream media. But get them speaking to right-wing radio or writing statements to their supporters and you see them in a whole new way.

Thank you, GLAAD for providing this great tool for seeing the true words and feelings of the truly IMbalanced bigots in the anti-gay army.

Black History Month 2012: Quincy Jones

11 Feb

Today we honor and celebrate a man whose sixty years in music and the arts make him nearly unmatched in accomplishments and awards. Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr. was born in Chicago in 1933 and raised in Seattle. He received a scholarship to the school that eventually became the Berklee College of Music. He left before graduation to take advantage of the chance to be a trumpeter with Lionel Hampton’s band. While with Hampton, he displayed an uncanny knack for arrangement and quickly relocated to New York where he became an in-demand arranger for luminaries like Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. From 1956 to 1960 he alternated between touring as a trumpeter and arranger and time in New York. After being involved in a disastrous tour of North America and Europe, he decided that he needed to take further control of his own destiny.

We had the best jazz band in the planet, and yet we were literally starving. That’s when I discovered that there was music, and there was the music business. If I were to survive, I would have to learn the difference between the two.

He accepted a loan from Irving Green, head of Mercury Records and began working for the company, soon rising to Vice President, the first African-American to hold such a post at a label not owned by African-Americans. In 1964, Sidney Lumet invited him to score his film The Pawnbroker, and Jones became the first African-American to score a major film. He has since done over 30 scores, receiving a record seven Academy Award nominations. He also has a record 79 Grammy nominations with 27 wins including the Grammy Legend award.

He has gone on to an amazing career (including producing Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the biggest-selling album of all time). His list of awards and accolades is so substantial that it merits its own Wikipedia page. This includes the coveted Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, indicative of his dedication to giving back to the world. While he is well known as the conductor and producer of the We Are the World sessions, he has made many regular contributions to other causes. Jones holds the title of the ONLY music composer of a Steven Spielberg movie, The Color Purple.  All other Spielberg movies used John Williams to compose the music score.  Not a big surprise to the TSM audience, but not only did I love the movie The Color Purple, but I bought the soundtrack immediately after seeing the movie.

Beginning with his work with Dr. King in the early 60s, he has launched many initiatives. Jones is co-founder of the Institute for Black American Music and the Black Arts Festival in Chicago. In 2004, he helped launch the We Are the Future (WAF) project, which gives children in poor and conflict-ridden areas a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. He regularly contributes time, energy, and money to other organizations, including the NAACP, AmFar, and GLAAD. Not content just to be a celebrity and businessman, Quincy Jones is a model of civil rights and social justice.

Sofia Vergara and Social Justice

16 Sep

Civil Rights Champion

Sofia Vergara is more than just another pretty face. The star of ABC’s smash sitcom, Modern Family, is also an outspoken champion of social justice and gay rights. Recently, Vergara released a public service announcement for GLAAD  as part of their Be an Ally and a Friend campaign. She has a long-standing relationship with GLAAd, having presented at their 2010 awards ceremony and participated in a number of their outreach activities.

Understanding the dual pressures of being LGBT and hispanic, she recorded the PSA in Spanish. When asked about that decision, she responded:

imagine how hard it is for Latin guys and Latin kids to be gay. Most of us are raised very Catholic, and the macho figure is very strong in our culture, so it’s still more taboo and a million times more dramatic to come out. Many gay friends have told me how hard it was for them to be open in the Latin community. Nothing’s going to change from one day to the other, so it’s a matter of doing things little by little.

She also sat down for an interview with the LGBTQ news magazine The Advocate recently to discuss the PSA and her support for the gay community. The whole interview is delightful, showing Vergara’s elegance, wit, and charm. One quote nails the issue of LGBT equality and civil rights:

We have to appreciate each other’s differences and accept people who have the courage to accept themselves. That’s beautiful.

So are you, Sofia, inside and out. Thank you for your wonderful work on the screen and in the lives of the LGBTQ community. Okay, so maybe I would cross the road for both Sofia Vergara and Helen Mirren.

Bigot of the Week Award: September 2, The Huffington Post

2 Sep

Bigot of the Week

This is a rather sad story, for I used to have some respect for The Huffington Post, but it would seem it has now gone the way of The National Enquirer and can only hope to aspire to the tainted standard of yellow journalism. On August 30, 2011, The Huffington Post ran a story by Amanda Fairbanks titled Sex For Tuition: Gay Students Using ‘Sugar Daddies’ To Pay Off Loan Debt.

As noted by GLAAD, the story is riddled with dangerous stereotypes and shallow assumptions, providing no substantiation for its sweeping generalities. A prime example is this quote from the story:

Unlike in the straight world, many say they find working as an escort on the gay scene to be an accepted, even applauded practice.

provided with no supporting material. GLAAD is asking people to take action:

This level of carelessness is surprising, given the Huffington Post’s track record of commendable coverage of LGBT issues. It feeds into very outdated stereotypes, ignores the broad range of people from our community with many healthy and loving families and uses a few individuals to make sweeping and degrading generalizations about the gay community.   It’s shoddy journalism.

Aside from the dangerous backlash this will have on the LGBT community, Fairbanks seems to be the whore here and will publish a story regardless of facts or of how her need to be published will harm gay men. Obviously, this week’s BWA goes to Huffington Post. Thus far, HuffPo has offered only a weak defense of the story, still providing no journalistic evidence to support the wild and damaging claims. Badly done, Huffington Post. Make this right and publish a retraction now!

Everybody Hates Chris: Chris Rock Bigot at Large

11 Jun

Waiting for Rock to join them.

Right now there is a good reason for everyone to hate Chris Rock.  He has just publicly come out in support of the talentless and bigoted Tracy Morgan. Rock defended the homophobic and misogynistic comments of Morgan, saying:

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in world where Tracy Morgan can’t say foul inappropriate shit.

Really?  So advocating violence against the LGBT community is acceptable?  What kind of sociopathy is our culture celebrating here?  Thank goodness The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) quickly released the following statement:

Language about stabbing kids for being gay isn’t ‘foul.’ It’s dangerous.

It seems to me that GLAAD is stating the obvious here, but apparently this is not obvious to homophobic bigots like Rock and Morgan.  Perhaps Rock, Morgan, and Mel Gibson can work on a project together where they can spew hate at all the Jews and gays.  What a Ménage à Trois that would be.  Click here to see the full article.

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