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Where was the gay
mafia when I needed a hit?

Where was the gay
mafia when I needed a hit?


The creator of NBC's short-lived The Book of Daniel wonders why his fellow gays and lesbians didn't fight back when the American Family Association attacked him

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.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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