Friday, March 23, 2007

LGBT Media Watchdog Organization Excludes LGBT Media from Annual Awards Ceremony

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has come under fire in recent days for its decision to exclude LGBT media from its annual Media Awards. This policy has been in place for some time but it has come to light after the gay and lesbian television network here! severed ties with the media watchdog organization earlier this week. The Los Angeles Daily News published a story on March 21 that detailed the decision [] while Huffington Post contributor Gabriel Rotello [] and others have weighed in on the controversy.

GLAAD President Neil Giuliano told here! in an undated correspondence the organization's Board of Directors determined the focus of the Media Awards should remain on mainstream media after Logo, another cable network geared towards the LGBT community, raised the same concern last year. Giuliano further said he thinks "we should work to create a way to recognize LGBT-focused media, and am hopeful someday we will do."

Here! Senior Vice President of Corporate and Marketing Communications Stephen Macias rejected this explanation in a letter to Giuliano and GLAAD's Board dated March 20. Macias
cites GLAAD's own mission statement [] and adds the Media Awards criteria are "completely at odds" with it. He also urges GLAAD to either change its mission statement or discontinue the "exclusion of gay media from submitting work for a GLAAD Media Award."

This controversy is not about whether here! is a viable medium or whether GLAAD is a viable organization but rather, it is about a long-standing policy that raises some very troubling questions. GLAAD's work remains vitally important and those within the organization continue to work tirelessly to promote fair, accurate and inclusive coverage of LGBT people in the media. GLAAD's policy to exclude LGBT media outlets from the Media Awards, however, sends a strong message of exclusion to the community of which it own mission statement claims to work on behalf. The LGBT community has gained significant visibility over the last decade and has, in many ways, found an outlet within so-called mainstream media on marriage equality, adoption and a host of other important social, political and economic issues. GLAAD can certainly take some credit for this reality. But to exclude its own community members from its own awards ceremony threatens to undermine much of that goodwill. This policy from an organization that is so concerned about it's own image is very troubling indeed.

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