Earlier this week, GLAAD released a statement about the publication of "Straight Jacket," a controversial Newsweek article by Ramin Setoodeh which cast doubt on the believability of openly gay actors in straight roles. Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award-winning
screenwriter of Milk, joined GLAAD’s President Jarrett Barrios to articulate the LGBT community's concerns with the article.
The Hollywood Reporter ran an online exclusive commentary by Barrios and Black in which they said: "[GLAAD] has been advocating this equal treatment since our inception. Moreover, as we've have been watching Hollywood and Broadway in recent years, we have been encouraged by the progress that openly gay and lesbian actors have made -- progress that everyone but Setoodeh seems to appreciate...with the stakes so high for gay Americans at this moment, it is no excuse for his editors inflicting such hurtful—and baseless -- musings on the readers of Newsweek. We'd all have been better off leaving Setoodeh's tortured thoughts on his therapist's couch and leaving baseless stories like this one on the editor's desk."
As the May 10th issue of Newsweek first hit the stands, followed by Kristen Chenoweth’s highly publicized takedown of the writer’s analysis and GLAAD’s subsequent conversation with Ryan Murphy, GLAAD issued a statement that supported the idea that LGBT actors can play a wide variety of roles. The statement sparked media coverage including the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, USA Today and CNN.com. GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios also appeared on CNN to address the biased nature of the piece and wrote a guest blog on AOL Popeater that spoke to LGBT youth and let them know that they are equal with their straight counterparts, regardless of what profession they choose. GLAAD contacted Newsweek and asked that they apologize for the harmful assertions in the article and provide equal space for views counter to those Setoodeh expressed.
Although Newsweek has yet to apologize, Mark Peyser, the magazine's Culture Editor, in response to the media attention, did conduct a Q&A with Barrios and Black so they could elaborate on the issues many in the community had with Setoodeh's piece and to discuss the larger implications of the piece. In the Q&A, Barrios says, “From the perspective of GLAAD, we want to see a world where there's full equality for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. And to think that a child might conclude that they can't be out? When all around them there are gay people coming out and being successful? It's not tenable. It's not believable, what the author is saying. And it's also harmful. Because if they were to believe it, it could really affect the expectations of children and all of us who want to live in a world where we're fully equal.”
Ryan Murphy, the openly gay creator of Glee who earlier this week sent a scathing letter posted on EW.com calling out the writer’s internalized homophobia and asking GLAAD to join him in calling out Newsweek, yesterday released another statement thanking Barrios and Black for joining him in taking action against the Newsweek article. He also said that he has spoken with Setoodeh and the writer has accepted his invitation to visit the Glee set to witness firsthand the creative process of a program that hires actors based solely on talent.
The community’s response to this piece has been overwhelming. Each of these voices - Murphy, Black and Chenoweth, entertainment reporters and the LGBT bloggers and journalists who have written about this story - represent the communities and allies that GLAAD is committed to serving.
GLAAD’s National News Team is requesting a follow-up meeting with Newsweek editorial staff to discuss their overall LGBT coverage and address Setoodeh’s problematic reporting.