BY Advocate Contributors
January 13 2010 6:00 PM ET
In his commentary, “GLAAD Reconsidered,” Michaelangelo Signorile offers a mixture of criticism and claims about the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation that are not supported by the facts. And while criticism is certainly welcome, as it would be from all who we serve in our media advocacy work, the central thesis of Signorile’s piece is incorrect.
Signorile says that accepting money from networks and movie studios “enormously compromises” GLAAD. Let’s take a look at one of the companies that Signorile says supports our work, but that we allegedly ‘don’t criticize.’ In 2007, GLAAD provided feedback to Universal Studios about the film I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, some of which it took, some of which it didn’t. GLAAD’s view at the time was that a film with A-list stars and a summer release would reach an audience that many movies featuring LGBT content do not reach. Signorile disagreed and criticized us then and rehashes the same criticism here
that GLAAD was soft on Universal because they donate.
In fact, GLAAD hasn’t been soft on Universal. Last year we secured an opportunity to view an early cut of Universal’s film Brüno. We expressed serious concerns about some of the scenes. When those parts were not removed, GLAAD’s voice was front and center in the protest around the film, educating everyday moviegoers about the reality of the LGBT issues presented in the film. Some in the community agreed with GLAAD’s position around the movie, while others felt that GLAAD didn’t "get it," including one of our sponsors: NBC Universal. We, however, were more focused on the LGBT youths who were going to be called "Brüno" when they returned to school that fall. Or the voters who would be picturing Brüno in a hot tub with his adopted infant as they voted to take away our right to adopt.
Fox Broadcasting is another example. Fox Broadcasting is supportive of GLAAD’s work, and GLAAD did not hesitate to challenge Fox and the producers of So You Think You Can Dance when judge Nigel Lythgoe made deeply problematic remarks about a same-sex pair of ballroom dancers last year. And in the most recent season, when a same-sex couple competed on the show, the comments and criticism by the judges were respectful and inclusive. GLAAD has also challenged and continues to ask the community to raise their voices to producers of Fox’s The Cleveland Show.
Moreover, GLAAD has routinely criticized NBC and Fox for their lack of overall LGBT content in our annual and highly publicized Network Responsibility Index. NBC received a failing grade in 2009, and Fox failed in 2008.