In the wake of a defamatory segment ("Is TV Too Gay?") aired by KRIV-26, the FOX affiliate in Houston, Texas, following the April 26 anti-bullying episode of Glee, GLAAD issued a Call to Action on May 3 after conversations with KRIV management did not yield a public apology. It's now been more than two weeks. While we are still hopeful for an apology, our Call to Action is already a success in that it reveals public opinion to be overwhelmingly in our favor.
In large numbers, there is consensus that KRIV was irresponsible for even posing the question and all the more so for providing a platform for anti-gay extremist Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association (AFA), to espouse nothing but his own personal bigotry toward LGBT people. (Note: the AFA is recognized as an official hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.) In the segment, Fischer wrongly stated that being gay "is conduct that bears enormous psychological and physical risk to those that engage in it” and that “homosexual behavior is just as risky and just as dangerous as injection drug use." And we certainly can't forget Damali Keith, the anchor who hosted the segment and compared the gay characters on Glee to "product placement" by soda companies in movies, where "everyone in the theater is thirsty for that particular brand."
Since our Call to Action went live on May 3, more than 5,400 (and counting) e-mails have been sent to KRIV management. These e-mails echo the concerns above and ask the station to issue an apology for the words of their host and their guest. Many others have called the station. If you are among the thousands of people who've taken the time to stand with GLAAD in favor of diversity and inclusiveness, and against bullying and harmful anti-gay rhetoric, we thank you. In conversations with KRIV management prior to our Call to Action, we were advised that the station would be moving forward with "greater editorial sensitivity." Though no one from the station has yet to state that publicly, we are encouraged to think that, after hearing from thousands of you, the station is only further committed to reporting more responsibly in the future. If you've not yet joined our Call to Action, please take a moment to do so by clicking here.
The media also played a big part in making this a powerful Call to Action. Coverage of our action appeared in more than a dozen local/national media outlets, including: TIME magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, New York Magazine, Houston Chronicle (Texas' highest-circulation newspaper), Miami Herald and Salt Lake Tribune. Check out the headlines below, and click on the images to read each article in its entirety.
The widespread media attention sent an important message about why Fischer's anti-gay rhetoric has no place on our airwaves. Other broadcasters will no doubt think twice before providing a platform for such an anti-gay voice. Through the media attention, GLAAD was also able to reach some of the viewers of KRIV and debunk Fischer's harmful rhetoric.
Additionally, GLAAD has reached out to many of KRIV's advertisers to make them aware of the defamatory segment that aired on April 26. Along with GLAAD, these advertisers will also be keeping a close eye on the content that KRIV produces.
Though KRIV has yet to publicly take responsibility for the mistakes they made on April 26, GLAAD remains optimistic that, going forward, the station will report in a manner that is fair, accurate and inclusive, and certainly never in such a way that could potentially cause harm to someone. As we've noted time and again, young people are especially vulnerable to the images they see in the media; and given that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth report experiencing harassment in school, GLAAD applauds television shows, like Glee, that discourage bullying and encourage self-acceptance. For two years in a row, GLAAD has been proud to recognize Glee with the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.