By Advocate Contributors
Originally published on Advocate.com November 19 2010 4:00 AM ET
Originally called the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Defamation League, the organization is born when a group of gay writers protests the New York Post’s offensive AIDS coverage. After the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith threatens to sue over the name, the organization becomes the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
GLAAD convinces The New York Times to change its editorial policy and begin using the word gay in place of homosexual.
After using “fag” in a joke on The Tonight Show, Bob Hope meets with GLAAD and then creates—at his own expense—a national public service announcement condemning antigay violence.
The first GLAAD Media Awards—held in April in New York City—honor fair, accurate, and inclusive images of LGBT people on television, in film, and in the news. That same year GLAAD protests Andy Rooney’s insensitive remarks about AIDS on 60 Minutes; CBS suspends and reprimands Rooney, and he apologizes in The Advocate.
GLAAD protests outside theaters showing Basic Instinct, the latest in a long line of movies depicting bisexual killers. The group’s campaign against homophobic rap prompts Mercury Records to produce a pro-gay PSA.
GLAAD calls on ABC to broadcast an episode of Roseanne featuring a lesbian kiss. Homophobic lyrics for a planned stage production of Victor/Victoria are changed after GLAAD intervenes.
The six-month “Let Ellen Out” campaign ultimately results in the announcement that the lead character on Ellen (Ellen DeGeneres) will come out as a lesbian; she is the first gay lead television character. GLAAD sets up a satellite screening for 3,000 residents of Birmingham, Ala., when the local ABC affiliate refuses to air the coming-out episode. GLAAD also successfully counteracts a Southern Baptist boycott of the Walt Disney Co. for its fair treatment of gays and lesbians.
GLAAD helps manage the media coverage of the murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo.; arranges a vigil in Washington, D.C.; and pushes for passage of federal hate crimes legislation.
GLAAD meets with Paramount Television over antigay radio host Laura Schlessinger’s move to TV, but Paramount refuses to guarantee that Schlessinger will not defame gays and lesbians on the program. The antigay lyrics on Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP are a launching point for GLAAD’s national debate on hate.
GLAAD declares victory when, after a vigorous PR campaign, Schlessinger’s television show, Dr. Laura, is canceled. Soap Opera Digest notes that GLAAD had a part in the development of the character of Bianca, a teenage lesbian on All My Children.
After meeting with GLAAD, The New York Times begins publishing announcements of same-sex unions in its Weddings & Celebrations pages. GLAAD’s “Announcing Equality” campaign begins, and from 2002 to 2008 the number of newspapers printing same-sex announcements rises 584%.
When right-wing radio and TV host Michael Savage calls a gay man a “sodomite” who “should get AIDS and die,” GLAAD protests, and MSNBC cancels his television show.
When a Utah movie house cancels showings of gay drama Latter Days due to pressure by the Mormon Church, GLAAD’s press conference raises the film’s profile, and the film ultimately expands to 40 theaters, 36 more than originally planned.
GLAAD marshals its members to condemn the antigay comments by pundit Ann Coulter on MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews; the network’s Countdown With Keith Olbermann calls Coulter the Worst Person in the World.
After Grey’s Anatomy cast member Isaiah Washington apologizes for his repeated use of “faggot,” GLAAD partners with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network to produce a public service announcement starring Washington about the negative power of epithets. GLAAD brings media attention to the violently antigay lyrics of performers Buju Banton and Bounty Killer, and Clear Channel pulls its sponsorship of their performances at New York City’s Reggae Carifest.
GLAAD and Harris Interactive publish the groundbreaking Pulse of Equality study, which shows that Americans’ impressions of LGBT people are largely formed by what they see on TV and in the news.
GLAAD works with national media, including TruTV, to bring unprecedented attention to the brutal 2008 murder of transgender teen Angie Zapata in Greeley, Colo.
In response to the network’s “failing” grade from GLAAD, CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler vows to increase LGBT representation in programming, saying, “We know we will do better.” GLAAD works with TeenNick to develop the story line of Adam—TV’s first transgender teenager. On October 20, millions of people join GLAAD in Spirit Day by wearing purple to support LGBT teens, including the hosts of Today, The View, The Talk, CBS Evening News, World News With Diane Sawyer, E! News, and The Tonight Show.