|The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has issued its list of the worst anti-gay voices of last year. Featured offenders include a successful TV actor, a pro athlete, a trio of right-wing talking heads and a daily newspaper.
“Since our founding over 22 years ago, GLAAD has taken a stand against anti-gay defamation,” said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano. “As a media advocacy organization for the LGBT community, it is our responsibility to articulate the harm done when anti-gay sentiment is voiced through media platforms. By fighting defamation with educational resources and telling the stories of the community, GLAAD changes hearts and minds so that LGBT people can live in a more understanding, accepting and inclusive society.”
Anti-gay voices of 2007 (in chronological order)
Summary: During a backstage press conference at the 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 15, then “Grey’s Anatomy” star Isaiah Washington used an anti-gay slur when denying an allegation made earlier by T.R. Knight. Washington said on the air: “No, I did not call T.R. a faggot.” Rumors had begun in Oct. 2006 that Washington initially referred to Knight as a faggot during an on-set altercation with co-star Patrick Dempsey. Following the incident, Washington apologized and worked with GLAAD and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to produce a PSA conveying the power of demeaning, dehumanizing words.
Summary: GLAAD strongly condemned elements of an ad campaign launched by Snickers during the Feb. 4 Super Bowl. The televised ad showed two mechanics eating from opposite ends of a Snickers candy bar and, after their mouths touch, ripping out their chest hair in a desperate attempt to “do something manly.” The campaign included a website featuring alternate endings for the ad — among them, a version called “Wrench” where one man grabs a wrench and uses it to bash the other, who responds by slamming the hood of the car down on the first man’s head. Another video featured NFL athletes reacting with prejudice and disgust to depictions of two men kissing.
Summary: In the days following former NBA player John Amaechi coming out publicly as a gay man, former NBA all-star Tim Hardaway said on the Miami radio station Sports Talk 790 The Ticket, “You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.” Following his Feb. 14 comments, Hardaway went on to apologize and, on Sept. 26, he participated in a discussion at the YES Institute to talk about ways to keep transgender children safe.
Summary: On March 2, Ann Coulter used an anti-gay slur when commenting on presidential candidate, former Sen. John Edwards. Coulter said, “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I’m — so, kind of at an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards, so I think I’ll just conclude here and take your questions.”
Summary: On March 12, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, the senior ranking member of the U.S. Armed Forces, gave an interview to the Chicago Tribune in which he characterized gay and lesbian service members as “immoral,” reiterated his support for the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy based on that personal prejudice, and disparaged gay and lesbian relationships by equating them with adultery. In the days that followed, news media reported comprehensively on Pace’s anti-gay remarks and the outrage they sparked across the country. The glare of the media spotlight is credited with prompting Gen. Pace to subsequently claim that his disparaging comments were “personal,” though he did not apologize for them.
Bill O’Reilly needs to mind his ‘Ps’ and ‘Qs’ when it comes to queer America.
Summary: On the June 21 edition of Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News Crime Analyst Rod Wheeler detailed what he called a “national network” of so-called “lesbian gangs” that prey on young girls. Using exaggerated, sensational language, Wheeler claimed there are more than 150 such gangs in the Washington, D.C., area alone. On July 10, GLAAD Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson was invited on the program to challenge the factually incorrect story. O’Reilly admitted the report was exaggerated and promised, “[W]e’ll do better next time.”
Summary: On Oct. 4, Limbaugh used the vulgar slurs “add-a-dick-to-me” and “chop-a-dick-off-a-me” in discussing an article about the medical and psychological outcomes of sex-reassignment surgery, part of the transition process for some transgender people.
Summary: Twice in the month of Oct., News Corporation’s tabloid, New York Post, used dehumanizing insults directed at the LGBT community. On Oct. 5, Page Six editor Richard Johnson apologized in print after GLAAD condemned his previous day’s column for referring to transgender reality show star Miriam as a “she-male.” On Oct. 29, the Post published another Page Six item about the legal troubles facing billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. The item offensively referred to a transgender woman who is suing Epstein as a “he/she.”
Thinking about the challenges that might lie ahead, Giuliano said, “Though we made great strides in responding to the anti-gay defamation of 2007, we know there will be heightened challenges in 2008. Too often our lives are used as political fodder in election years and told with sensational distortion so as to distract from substantive issues of policy that affect every American.
“With the stakes higher than ever, GLAAD will be there to ensure that media are responsible for those persons and ideas to whom they give their public platform. Through collaboration with sister organizations, allies and responsible media, LGBT representation can be more fair, accurate and inclusive in 2008.”