Where was the gay
mafia when I needed a hit?

Where was the gay
            mafia when I needed a hit?

Recently I
created a short-lived show for NBC called The Book of
Daniel.
It was a simple story about an Episcopalian
priest, Daniel Webster, and his journey from the man
he is towards becoming the man he wants to be—a
journey that we are all on. He was helped along this
journey by his faith, his family, and his internal
discussions with Jesus. His family happened to include
22-year-old Peter, a gay son, played brilliantly by
Christian Campbell (Trick, Reefer Madness). We
made little issue of this, as it has always been a personal
goal of mine to create a gay character who was not
defined by his sexual orientation but for whom it was
second nature. He had trouble coming out to his
grandfather—a bishop of the diocese—but other
than that, Peter lived openly with his family.

Shortly before
our premiere on January 6, 2006, The Book of Daniel
wound up at the center of a controversy. Advertisers had
already been skittish (as they had with Desperate
Housewives, Queer Eye, NYPD Blue
—any
show that pushes the envelope), and this controversy,
started by a very small group of bullies in Tupelo, Miss.,
pushed them further away. Every show lives or dies on
numbers, and ours dwindled due to lack of advertisers
and therefore lack of budget and support for
promotion. It’s just an unfortunate truth about
network television. Shows get less and less time to
find an audience.

But my beef is
not with NBC, nor with the advertisers, nor even with the
American Family Association. We all know what the AFA
is—a small group of loud-mouthed bullies who
traffic in hate and fear and have been using and
promoting homophobia to raise money for years. No, my issue
is with my own community: the LGBT community.

In the
AFA’s first very extensive e-mail attacking our show,
they named me, Jack Kenny, the show’s creator,
as a “practicing homosexual.” They
played on that fact and the fact that there was a gay
character in the show to say that I had no business
writing about Jesus or Christianity. I tried to turn
it into a joke (which is what it should have been) by
saying I was not a “practicing homosexual” but
had actually gotten quite good at it. But their
attacks continued. Where was my community when I was
being gay-bashed, quite openly in a very public forum? Where
were the protests? Where were the articles in the gay
press? Had the AFA written “practicing
Jew,” or “obvious Negro,” or
“active Muslim,” you can bet each of
those communities would have been in an uproar. But not us.
No, it’s still OK in the LGBT community to use
our sexual orientation against us. Because we still
hide. We let it be OK. And as long as we let it be OK,
the rest of the country will let it be OK. As long as we in
the LGBT community (or is it really just a fixed-up
neighborhood?) continue to ignore these kind of
assaults, we will never have a hope of overturning
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We will
never achieve equality in marriage rights or even
civil unions. We will never be fully accepted (to hell
with “tolerated,” I want equality) in this
country. If we don’t stand up for ourselves,
how can we ever expect straight people to do it?

It’s too
late for me or The Book of Daniel. This isn’t
about that. I’m asking you to pay attention.
Next time you hear someone being bashed, don’t
sit there and take it. Don’t let your
enemies—or for that matter, your friends, and
in some cases, families—turn you into a second-class
citizen. This is nothing new to you. You know it. In your
hearts and minds and souls, you know that this must be
done. Stand up. Be noticed. Fight back. When we all
stand up together, when we all treat ourselves as
equals, then and only then will we be treated as equals by
others.

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