This year, gay television and internet personality, B. Scott, was hired by BET to host the pre-show for their annual award ceremony which aired last Sunday. Scott's attires often do not conform to expected gender norms. BET's decision to hire B. Scott was a great step forward but unfortunately B. Scott was reportedly asked to make changes to his ensemble.
B. Scott previously worked with GLAAD's Young Adult program, inspiring many young adults who attended the event and heard him speak. Today he spoke with GLAAD and also released an open letter to BET on his website. In it, he writes "It’s not just about the fact that BET forced me to pull my hair back, asked me to take off my makeup, made me changed my clothes and prevented me from wearing a heel. It’s more so that from the mentality and environment created by BET made me feel less than and that something was wrong with who I am as a person." He continues, "I initially didn’t want to talk about this situation because I was truly embarrassed. But, I feel that it’s important to know that no matter how you choose to express yourself, it is okay to be who you are."
Unfortunately many people around the country face discrimination, and even violence, based on how they express themselves. All too often, they are expelled from school, fired from their job, or unable to find a job simply because they do not present themselves in the manner in which their gender is expected to dress.
BET has embraced diversity in some of its other programming, including featuring Miss Lawrence on Rip the Runway. Following conversations with GLAAD today, BET released the following statement and apology:
"BET Networks embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds. The incident with B. Scott was a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties. We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions."
GLAAD looks forward to working with BET to raise awareness about gender identity and expression, and ensure that everyone can express their authentic selves without fear of discrimination or reprisal.