In February, GLAAD heard from local community members across the country about an hour-long, anti-gay infomercial called Speechless: Silencing the Christians that was created and financed by the anti-gay activist group American Family Association. The infomercial features interviews with anti-gay activists who make a series of predictable, fear-mongering claims about LGBT people and equality. The following comments are a reflection of the rhetoric used by anti-gay activists interviewed in the Speechless: Silencing the Christians infomercial:
“One day they’re reading about puppy dogs and then all of the sudden they’re confronted with two princes who fall in love and want to get married. I think that’s the real danger that we’re confronting is that our kids are guinea pigs, because we don’t know the long term impact of these kinds of lessons for little children." (Janice Crouse, Beverly LaHay Institute) “Men who are having sex with men - their health risks [...] are even higher than the average person because they are limited to practicing sodomy.” (John Diggs, STD/STI specialist) LGBT advocates in Michigan worked to mobilize community members to express their concerns to the station management at NBC’s WOOD-TV, where the infomercial was set to air. The station ultimately decided not to air the infomercial. However, the infomercial has resurfaced in recent weeks in five cities: Fresno, Calif.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Topeka, Kan.; and Charlotte, N.C. GLAAD has been working with local advocates and network affiliates around their decision to air the infomercial. GLAAD will be reaching out to local stations around the country with more information about the content of this infomercial as well as encouraging community members to express their concerns to the stations’ management. Media General, a Richmond-based national media conglomerate, took money to air Speechless: Silencing the Christians. The company stated that the infomercial didn’t meet the standard of being too “hateful and vitriolic” for them not to air it, though they understand why people who have “chosen the homosexual lifestyle” might be upset. Media General owns TV stations, newspapers and specialty presses across the country. The company received a reported $35,000 to air Speechless: Silencing the Christians in Tampa, FL (the 13th largest media market in the country). recently reported on a protest held on July 15 where close to 200 people lined up both sides of one of the busiest streets in Tampa Bay during rush hour. The LGBT community and straight allies carried red flags (a comment on a Media General executive who said the station viewed Speechless: Silencing the Christians and “it didn’t raise any red flags”).
Janice Crouse, Beverly LaHay Institute
Equality Florida You can join the efforts by taking the following action: Contact Media General Media General Media Contact Ray Kozakewicz (804) 649-6748 Media General's President is Marshall Morton: (804) 649-6000 main number If you find out the infomercial is airing in your area, contact GLAAD. We can provide resources and support to you as you engage in public education work around Speechless: Silencing the Christians. We can also help you to identify contacts at local stations as well as to build support for any statements or alerts that you issue by reposting to our blog. You can also contact the station and speak to a station manager or the appropriate decision maker. Express your concerns about the misleading and defamatory claims in the infomercial, and explain that you will be urging community members to call in with their concerns as well. GLAAD can provide support when you make this call.
Image from Equality Florida Blog