Is GLAAD’s evaluation of LGBT characters in movies accurate?

CLOUD ATLAS

‘Cloud Atlas,’ with out actor Ben Whishaw (right), was one of the most gay-positive films released last year — and one of two that starred Whishaw (‘Skyfall’ was the other)

GLAAD has always seemed, to me, a strange organization. On the plus side, they are a watchdog group that looks out for the interest of LGBT people, especially how they are portrayed in the media. They call out bullshit when they need to, and they give mainstream journalism a mirror to look at their own way of covering gay issues.

On the other hand, GLAAD has always been a little starstruck itself. It holds big awards ceremonies where it invites media elites and celebrities, even when such adulation doesn’t seem deserved. Back when Isaiah Washington made his first homophobic comment about T.R. Knight, GLAAD attacked him. It then got him to do a PSA on their behalf, and all was forgiven … until the next time he made a gay gaffe. Strange bedfellows, that business.

But I was surprised by the headline I woke up to this morning that GLAAD was giving a failing rating to Hollywood for only releasing 14 films with LGBT characters in them in 2012.

“How could this be?” I thought. “If that were the case, I’d dry up reviewing movies.  I see 14 gay-themed movies a month. What could they be talking about?”

Then I read deeper into the stories (you can see the entire report here). That 14 number reflects only the top 101 films released by six major Hollywood studios: Warners (Cloud Atlas, Rock of Ages), Paramount (Katy Perry: Part of Me, Fun Size, A Thousand Words), Columbia (Skyfall, 21 Jump Street, Think Like a Man, That’s My Boy), Universal (Pitch Perfect, Ted, American Reunion, The Five-Year Engagement), Disney (The Avengers) and Fox (none). And to me, both of those criteria — “major” (top-grossing) film from “major” (Big Six) studios provides a slanted view of the facts.

Maybe you didn’t see some films you remember seeing with positive gay characters — Perks of Being a Wallflower maybe, or ParaNorman? Cuz GLAAD didn’t count those, even though both turned in respectable grosses.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for coverage of Boy Scouts meeting in Grapevine

scouts

Supporters of lifting the ban on gay youth in the Boy Scouts will convene today for the first day of a three-day Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine.

At noon, Eagle Scout Dave McGrath and his son will arrive at the Great Wolf Lodge, 100 Great Wolf Drive, completing their 1,800 mile Bike for Equality campaign that began when they left Idaho Falls on May 3.

McGrath, Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls and Inclusive Scouting Network founder Mark Noel will address the audience.

Gay Scouts and leaders will then speak, including former Ohio den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, Greg Bourke, a gay dad removed from his position as Scoutmaster with his son’s troop, and Pascal Tessier, a gay Boy Scout who was told he would not be eligible to earn the Eagle award his older brother received.

Events for the summit will take place today at the Great Wolf Lodge in Fallen Timber A Meeting Room. They are expected to conclude around 2 p.m.

Across the street at the Gaylord Texan, where the roughly 1,400 members of the BSA’s National Council will vote on the resolution tomorrow, opponents of allowing gays Scouts will protest at Texas Values’ Save Our Scouts rally from noon to 4 p.m.

Dallas Voice will be in Grapevine to capture all the excitement and will be tweeting live from the press conferences and rally. Follow us on Twitter here.

Yesterday 20 members of Congress signed a letter supporting the resolution to welcome gay youth into the BSA. Among them was Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

“As part of its mission, the BSA seeks to instill traditionally American values of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of others in youth scouts in preparation for the responsibilities of citizenship,” the letter reads in part. “Today, BSA has a policy that excludes gay Scouts and Scout leaders from participating. This is counter to BSA’s mission to teach our youth to combat discrimination. We are pleased to learn that the National Council will soon take up a resolution at the May 22nd meeting to update its membership standards policy. We strongly urge the BSA to pass the proposed resolution to end discrimination against gay youth.”

Read the full letter here.

—  Anna Waugh

GLAAD announces nominees for 24th annual media awards

GLAAD announced the nominees for its 24th annual media awards. Presentation of awards takes place on March 16 in New York, April 20 in Los Angeles and May 11 in San Francisco.

Among this year’s nominees are Frank Ocean, Adam Lambert, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, ParaNorman, Cloud Atlas, Keep the Lights On, The New Normal, Smash, Modern Family, How to Survive a Plague and The Amazing Race.

In the category of Outstanding Film — Wide Release, the nominees are Cloud Atlas, ParaNorman, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Your Sister’s Sister.

Outstanding comedy series recognizes five shows from network TV — The New Normal (NBC), Glee (Fox), Go On (ABC) Modern Family (NBC) and Happy Endings (ABC).

Outstanding TV movie or mini-series is all cable — American Horror Story: Asylum (FX), Hit and Miss (DirecTV) and Political Animals (USA).

—  David Taffet

Dallas’ gay J.C. Penney dads offer company congrats on GLAAD award


Plano-based J.C. Penney received GLAAD’s Mainstream Market Award for advertising this week for the company’s Father’s day ad featuring local gay dads Cooper and Todd Koch.

The award was part of GLAAD’s Amplifier Awards that recognizes exceptional advertising and media representations of the LGBT community.

Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch were featured in the June ad, which sparked anti-gay hate group One Million Moms group to boycott the retail chain again.

Smith and Koch recorded a video with their kids Clarie and Mason congratulating the company on the award and thanking J.C. Penney for their inclusion of the LGBT community in their advertising.

To view a complete of nominees, go here.

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Gay Dallas activist Will Kolb on getting his free speech violated by Fox Radio

Dallas activist Will Kolb

By now you may have heard about the Fox Radio affiliate in Reno, Nev., that canceled a public affairs program because the host had the gall to do an interview with a gay-rights activist who happens to be from Dallas. LGBTQ Nation broke the story Thursday, reporting that the owner of KKFT-FM (99.1) in Reno canceled the “House of Savoy” program hosted by Sean Savoy after Savoy did an interview Aug. 12 with Big D’s Will Kolb. We caught up Friday afternoon with Kolb — a one-time director of development for the Turtle Creek Chorale, DIFFA Style Council member and board member for Resource Center Dallas’ Toast to Life —  who told us it all started with a Facebook post he made at the height of the Chick-fil-A controversy.

“I said something to the effect of, ‘If you’re being called a bigot as a Christian, it’s not because you’re a bigot, it’s because of how you interpret Christianity,’” says Kolb, who considers himself a devout Methodist.

Kolb’s post was shared by hundreds of people all over the world before being removed by Facebook in response to a complaint, Kolb says, but not before it caught the attention of Savoy, an ordained minister who’d been hosting his Sunday night radio show produced by Nevada Matters Media Inc. for about a year.

“I thought it was fairly mundane,” Kolb said of his Aug. 12 appearance on Savoy’s show. “There was nothing really scandalous said. We talked about LGBT politics, marriage equality, the Chick-fil-A issue. I did a show with Richard Curtin [on Rational Radio in Dallas] that I thought was a lot more controversial than Sean Savoy.”

But that was Rational Radio in Dallas, and this is Fox Radio in Reno. Kolb says he was disappointed but not terribly surprised to learn of the decision by KKFT-FM owner Jerry Evans.

“I wasn’t that surprised because it was a Fox network, but at the same time [Savoy has] had discussions about African-Americans, women, so to me this was just blatant, ‘I hate gay people,’” Kolb says. “Even though it’s Fox, it’s still a free speech issue. They basically really wanted to silence my opinion. They want to silence all gay-rights opinions. It’s a shame for the gay community that we can’t even discuss this kind of stuff on certain networks.”

On the bright side, LGBTQ Nation reports that the whole controversy has prompted Savoy himself to come out as gay. Wow! Also, GLAAD has gotten involved, and is encouraging people to contact KKFT at 775-884-8000 or jerry@991fmtalk.com and ask why “House of Savoy” was pulled from the station. Or send a message via Twitter: @991FMTALKNEVADA.

Read Kolb’s Facebook post that led to his appearance on Savoy’s show — and listen to the appearance itself — after the jump.

—  John Wright

Ousted lesbian den leader delivers petitions to Boy Scouts headquarters

Ousted lesbian den leader Jennifer Tyrrell delivers petitions calling for an end to the Boy Scouts’ gay ban at the group’s headquarters in Irving on Wednesday morning. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Standing in front of the National Boy Scout Museum on Wednesday morning, ousted Cub Scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell said the Boy Scouts’ policy of exclusion is “hurting children and hurting families.”

Tyrrell was in Irving to deliver a Change.org petition with 300,000 signatures to the Boy Scouts of America.

After she received the phone call removing her from her position with the Scouts, “she sat around and cried for a few days,” according to Tyrrell’s partner Alicia Burns, who was also on hand Wednesday morning at BSA headquarters.

Anti-gay pastor Joey Faust demonstrated with two followers shouting about fornication while Tyrrell spoke to the media along with Mark Anthony Dingbaum of Change.org and Allison Palmer, vice president of campaigns and programs for GLAAD.

“Why can’t you tolerate the Boy Scouts decision?” Faust shouted. “The gays brought us AIDS …”

Palmer said GLAAD’s job is to tell stories about real people and that Tyrrell’s story resonates.

“Something comes across so clearly about her wanting to be a great parent,” Palmer said.

She called Tyrrell’s case an example of the consequences of policies like this hurting children.

Dingbaum said Change.org hosts 15,000 new petitions a month.

“Our job is to empower the petition starters,” he said.

And some of those petitions take off like this one and receive local as well as celebrity and other national support. Of the many new petitions started each month, only a few receive the national coverage that this one did.

After speaking to media, Tyrrell, Dingbaum and Burns carried boxes containing the signatures into the museum building.

Tyrrell, Burns and their two youngest children met with Boy Scouts representative Deron Smith for about 10 minutes. Tyrell wore her Scouting uniform with the right sleeve signed by George Takei. She and Takei rode in the New York Pride parade together.

When she emerged later, Tyrrell called the meeting cordial. She said she’d asked for proof of a meeting that Boy Scouts officials claim occurred after two years of study about the gay ban. The Boy Scouts announced the study this week, just two weeks after telling Dallas Voice that the policy wasn’t under review. The announcement coincided with their decision to meet with Tyrrell.

“I expect the Boy Scouts to stand behind their arcane policy until it changes, and we’ll be here until it changes,” Tyrrell said.

She said the petition remains open. In the past 24 hours, 2,000 signatures have been added. And she said she’d be back at Boy Scout headquarters to deliver more signatures as the petition grows.

More photos and video below.

—  David Taffet

Ousted Boy Scout mom Jennifer Tyrrell to deliver petition to Irving headquarters Wednesday

Jennifer Tyrrell and her son Cruz

Following our cover story last Friday about the Boy Scouts, ousted Cub Scout den leader Jennifer Tyrrell, GLAAD and Change.org have decided it’s time to deliver a petition with 300,000 signatures to Boy Scouts headquarters in Irving.

Tyrrell will be in Irving on Wednesday to deliver the petition asking for her reinstatement. She is expected to be at Boy Scout headquarters at 10 a.m., according to a press release from Change.org.

Tyrrell said that she was encouraged by other parents to become troop leader with “tolerance, acceptance and support.” Only after she became treasurer of the pack and found accounting inconsistencies was she removed because of her sexual orientation. GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro said Tyrrell’s story has caught the media’s attention and he called her “America’s favorite mom.”

After the jump, watch video of Tyrrell speaking at the GLAAD Media Awards and read the full text of the Change.org petition containing Tyrrell’s story. Sign the petition by going here.

—  David Taffet

Flawed study from UT researcher attempts to prove children of heterosexual parents fare better

Mark Regnerus

LGBT advocates are denouncing a study from a University of Texas researcher that claims children with gay or lesbian parents don’t fare as well as children of heterosexuals. (Media Matters picked the study apart and found at least five ways the study is flawed.)

“Flawed methodology and misleading conclusions all driven by a right-wing ideology,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, in a statement. “That alone should raise doubts about the credibility of this author’s work. But on top of that, his paper doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuring.”

The study was done by Mark Regnerus of the department of sociology and the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

For his heterosexual control group, Regnerus used children living in stable, two-parent homes. For his group of children of gays and lesbians, he used what was described as a hodgepodge of families that included any child whose parents had ever had a same-sex relationship, even if the child did not live with that parent.

“Because of the serious flaws, this so-called study doesn’t match 30 years of scientific research that shows overwhelmingly that children raised by parents who are LGBT do equally as well as their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.

In the study Regnerus showed that some disadvantages children of gays and lesbians face are a result of the discrimination against the LGBT community. That includes the added expenses and other hurdles gay and lesbians encounter because of the lack of relationship recognition. While not its intention, the study actually makes a good case for marriage equality.

Other studies show that children of gays and lesbians fare equally as well or better than the children of heterosexuals.

The Family Equality Council, HRC, Freedom to Marry and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation issued a joint statement slamming Regnerus and attacking the study’s funding.

Funding came from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, both known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

—  David Taffet

Take a lesson from CNN’s Roland Martin and watch what you tweet

Webb-DavidIt’s about time for the highfliers of the world to start giving things a little more thought before they open their mouths and let everyone know about the ugliness festering in their minds — it could jeopardize their livelihood. The latest big voice to stick his tongue in the fire is CNN contributor Roland Martin, a one-time Dallasite who unfortunately tweeted what was on his mind while watching soccer star David Beckham’s Super Bowl underwear commercial. Martin tweeted that if a “dude” at a Super Bowl party gets “hyped” about the underwear ad someone should “smack the ish out of him.”

The inference in that statement is pretty clear. If a guy reveals he likes guys by showing appreciation for the nearly naked, muscular Beckham featured in the ad, then someone should punish him — with violence.

It’s unclear why Martin’s mind would react in such a fashion to the commercial, but it should come as no surprise to the commentator or any other high-profile person that perceived anti-gay remarks will result in an immediate, unpleasant reaction from GLAAD. And that’s exactly what has happened in the case of Martin, whom the media monitoring organization has accused of habitual verbal gay-bashing.

Earlier the same day, Martin, a Houston native who has worked at radio stations and newspapers in North Texas, reportedly posted on his Facebook page that someone featured at the game in a “head-to-toe pink suit” needed a “visit from teamwhipdatass.”  Everything considered, it clearly was not one of Martin’s better days image-wise.

For his part, Martin immediately began trying to explain away his statements as harmless and not at all what the people from GLAAD perceived it to be upon hearing they wanted CNN to fire him. He claimed it was intended as a “crack” against soccer fans and not intended to be homophobic at all.

After that failed to convince anyone that he didn’t really say what everyone knows full well he did say, Martin decided the following day to apologize, saying he could “certainly understand how someone could come to a different conclusion than the one” he meant.

And that apparently turned out to be the case with CNN, which announced Martin’s suspension on Wednesday, Feb. 8 saying “Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive” and, “Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”

In his defense, although it failed to spare him, Martin noted that he had spoken out on national television in the past against bullying by urging parents and schools to take an “active role in ending this epidemic that afflicts kids nationwide, gay or not.” GLAAD accepted Martin’s apology as a “start,” but it suggested that the commentator should take the extra step of meeting with the organization’s leaders and using his big voice in the future to speak out against homophobic violence as reparation for his offensive and potentially harmful remarks.

That wasn’t a bad idea at all because violence can be incited in impressionable people — especially the young — who view powerful people’s hateful words as justification for violence. Hate crime researchers have long warned that politicians, clergy people and celebrities carry a great responsibility in terms of how their rhetoric might influence others.

In Martin’s case it seems odd that someone who is an African-American TV news personality and familiar with the issues of discrimination and bias-related violence would wind up being chided for perceived anti-gay rhetoric, but that is reflective of the insidiousness of bias. Nasty thoughts sometimes lurk in nice people’s minds, surfacing only during extraordinary moments.

Often, the expression of those thoughts probably is as big of a surprise to the deliverer as it is to the audience, and the result can be harrowing. That in itself is a good reason for everyone to realize that bias against law-abiding groups is harmful to society, no matter whether it is race, religion, sex, age or whatever, and a constant vigilance to fight against it in one’s own head should be undertaken if it resides there.

That’s likely a bigger problem for people who harbor anti-gay bias because of the LGBT community’s relative youth in terms of a legitimate society of people. Anti-gay bias was considered not only acceptable, but preferable for too long for some people to change their thoughts on the subject swiftly.

In regard to gay rights, some people changed their minds long before the laws changed, but for other people the process has been delayed long after the repeal of the sodomy law and the passage of other affirmative measures. Those people continue to struggle to balance their thoughts with their speech. Usually, people accustomed to speaking in public can keep their inappropriate thoughts in check when they are talking or writing, but social media forums such as Twitter and Facebook are presenting new hazards in communication. The immediacy of the communication and its worldwide reach can create big headaches for people, as Martin has learned.

Every purposeless, derogatory statement issued about another person or group has the potential of reaching and offending someone.

Because of that, it might be a good idea for everyone to take a lesson from Martin’s disastrous faux pas and watch carefully what they post on social media. Once it is out there, it’s spreading furiously and it’s not so easy to explain away.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@hotmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

J.C. Penney tells One Million Moms to suck it

Ellen DeGeneres

Earlier this week One Million Moms, an affiliate of anti-gay hate group the American Family Association, sent out an email calling on Plano-baed J.C. Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres — who’d just been named a company spokesperson — because she’s “an open homosexual.”

“Degeneres is not a true representation of the type of families that shop at their store,” One Million Moms wrote. “The majority of JC Penney shoppers will be offended and choose to no longer shop there.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which responded with a “Stand Up for Ellen” petition that has generated more than 24,000 signatures, reports today that J.C. Penney has rejected One Million Moms’ demands and “stands behind its partnership with Ellen DeGeneres.” GLAAD’s full press release is below.

—  John Wright