Eight months after it was postponed following the September 11 attacks, the Nightline series "A Matter of Choice? Gay Life in America" will air across five consecutive nights beginning Monday, May 20, and concluding with a 90-minute live town hall meeting in Roanoke, Va., on Friday, May 24. Nightline airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. Eastern time.
Reported and anchored by Ted Koppel, "A Matter of Choice?" reports on the gay experience in America, focusing first on residents in the nation's first gay and lesbian retirement community and then on the residents of Roanoke, Va., where the September 2000 hate-crime murder of Danny Overstreet and a weeklong series on gay life written up in the Roanoke Times resulted in intense scrutiny of the town's attitudes toward its gay and lesbian residents. These events also led to the formation of Roanoke7, a group that educates Virginia communities about the impact of intolerance and will be involved in the May 24 town hall meeting.
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation news media director Cathy Renna, who has viewed a critics' review copy of the first four nights of the Nightline broadcasts, observes that the series offers a look at gay and lesbian lives that most Americans have never seen before. "By seeking out the stories of lesbians and gay men--and gay seniors and youth in particular--outside major urban areas, Nightline's weeklong
series should resonate tremendously with a broad audience across the country," Renna said. "In a media landscape that tends to narrowly focus on the urban 20- or 30-something gay experience, 'A Matter of Choice?' offers fresh perspectives on some historically underrepresented segments of our community.
"We hope that people will walk away from this series asking not whether the origin of sexual orientation is 'a matter of choice,' but rather, 'Does it really matter?'" Renna added. "The real question is whether people should be treated equally and fairly. Nightline has built tremendous credibility with diverse audiences through its acclaimed ongoing 'America in Black and White' series. GLAAD hopes that Nightline will likewise continue to examine the gay and lesbian experience in America, focusing future attention on the ethnic, religious, family, and socioeconomic diversity of our community. There are so many more stories to be told, and with 'A Matter of Choice?' Nightline has demonstrated a promising commitment to telling our stories well."