On Monday morning, we heard concerns from community members about the anti-gay infomercial Speechless: Silencing the Christians, created and distributed by the anti-gay organization the American Family Association. When we found out the program was scheduled to air in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Columbus, Ohio, we reached out to partner organizations on the ground to find out more information and support local efforts.
After viewing the infomercial, the intent was clear - it was designed to perpetuate a climate of hostility toward our community and to create a culture where we are less safe, less secure, and where our families are put in harm's way.
Since Monday, we have been working with local community members in Grand Rapids, offering them assistance as they led efforts to mobilize community members to express their concerns to the station management at WOOD-TV (NBC), where it was set to air.
The organizing was led by Colette Beighley, who serves as assistant director of the LGBT resource center at Grand Valley State University and a GLAAD-trained spokesperson. Colette is also serving as the community's lead spokesperson on the issue, and she continues to work with GLAAD on media monitoring and interview prep this week.
Thanks to the efforts of community members on the ground, WOOD-TV first postponed the airing. The station then said it offered the American Family Association another timeslot. General Manager Diane Kniowski said: "We made a gesture of the 2-3 p.m. Saturday time period. It's been 24 hours and we had no response. Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else's fight. Ours was a fair offer and we are removing ourselves from this matter."
WSYX-TV (ABC) in Columbus, Ohio, has also decided to postpone airing the anti-gay informercial after hearing concerns from community members, and will issue a decision later after the general manager has had an opportunity to review. A new air date has not been set.
The anti-gay infomercial aired in Traverse City, Michigan (WPBN - NBC); Toledo, Ohio (WUPW - Fox); and Charlotte, North Carolina (WJZY - The CW) on Saturday, Feb. 7, with very little fanfare, and the information aired with no traction. Yesterday afternoon Equality Toledo issued an action alert urging community members to engage in dialogue with WUPW about their decision to air this anti-gay programming.