Nancy Alvarez: Please Stop Sharing Your Inaccurate Theories in Media, You are Hurting People

Nancy Alvarez seems like a nice enough lady, she calls herself an ally to the LGBT community. But she continues to express completely inaccurate opinions about gay people that are truly damaging.

Alvarez, a self-described sexologist who uses the term “Dr.” and is the former host of Quién Tiene la Razon (on Univision and Telefutura), was interviewed for AOL Latino and expressed, among other things, the idea that people are made gay by “mistakes made by their parents.”

GLAAD responded with a column today on AOLLatino.com

Alvarez’s comments were in response to a tweet Ricky Martin made asserting that people are born gay and not made gay and added ““are heterosexuals born or made straight?”. Ricky tweeted after the question was posed on an unfortunately biased segment about so-called conversion therapies that promise to change a person’s orientation on Univision nighttime newsmagazine program “Aquí y Ahora,” a show that usually produces fair, accurate and inclusive coverage of LGBT people.

In the AOL Latino interview, Alvarez told Ricky, a gay man, that he was wrong, that people are not born gay but made gay by their parents. As proof she cited a study sent to her by a viewer. The leading credible medical and scientific organizations, not to mention millions of gay men and lesbians around the world, will tell you that orientation is not determined by the parenting style of your parents.

Last year, GLAAD called on Univision to reprimand Alvarez and apologize for comments she made about gay parents. Alvarez said then (and again recently) she was “not sure” about gay parents and the effect they may have on their kids.  In fact, actual researchers and scientists are sure. Numerous studies show that having two moms or two dads does not have a negative influence on kids.

Our message to Nancy: if you want to share your personal and outdated theories, absolutely go for it—with your friends and family, in private. Not in the media.

Unfortunately, Nancy Alvarez’s comments are only a symptom of a larger problem. Though true that in recent years, we’ve seen a growing number of positive representations of LGBT people and issues in Spanish-language media, (meaning that millions of Latinos are getting to know LGBT people as their neighbors, friends, co-workers and family members), as with English-language media, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

One persistent challenge in Spanish-language media is the continued discussion and problematic framing of “se nace o se hace” (in English, “nature vs. nurture.”). This discussion and framing are problematic for a few reasons:

  1. Whenever a discussion about this topic takes place, it presumes that no gay, lesbian and bisexual people are in the room, when there in fact are, and plenty can tell you that they were born with their orientation.
  2. The way in which the question is posed and is discussed implicitly expresses the idea that as soon as the question is answered, then gay, lesbian and bisexual people can be accepted, supported and respected.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with Spanish-language media professionals to help them do a better job covering LGBT issues and people. And we thank GLAAD’s many members, Facebook friends and Twitter followers for alerting GLAAD when you see both good and problematic coverage in both English and Spanish-language media.

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