GLAAD is pleased to announce that we will be partnering with Equality Utah and Utah Pride Center to host a panel discussion and screening of the upcoming NBC series The New Normal for Utah residents. The screening follows Salt Lake City’s NBC affiliate KSL-TV’s decision to not air the series. The New Normal follows a gay couple’s efforts to start a family with the help of a surrogate. You can watch the pilot now on NBC’s website.
This announcement follows a recent meeting arranged by Utah advocacy organizations Equality Utah and Utah Pride between local LGBT families and executives of KSL and Bonneville International, to acknowledge the presence and contributions of all families, including LGBT families, in Utah and across the country. In a joint statement with the advocacy organizations, KSL said the following:
“We appreciated the opportunity to meet today. It was helpful to talk together, to better understand issues, and to be able to discuss the reasons behind our decision to not air The New Normal. This was not a decision we made lightly and it was not made because of any single issue including gay characters or LGBT families. As a communications company we make decisions every day regarding our programming and we made a decision to not broadcast this program because we feel it had a number of issues including sexually explicit content, demeaning dialogue, and inciting stereotypes. We care about and value all members of our community, including LGBT people and their families, and are grateful when there can be the type of cordial and respectful dialogue we have had today.”
The station has not changed its position on airing the series. The full contents of the joint statement can be read here.
“From the outset, it appeared clear that the presence of gay characters factored into KSL's decision. With gay families having long been part of some of television’s most well-known and popular series, KSL’s decision is out of touch with a vast majority of television viewers, advertisers and critics,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Refusing to air this series about gay families sends the wrong message to LGBT families and young people in Utah.”
“KSL-TV’s initial communications about refusing to air The New Normal, incited this community and many across the country who feel KSL was censoring the show because of its gay content. The comments from KSL gave fodder to the popular perception that Utah is a regressive and intolerant place,” said Utah Pride Center’s Executive Director, Valerie Larabee. “LGBT individuals and families here in Utah, a state that places high value on healthy families, deserve recognition and respect for their presence and contributions here and beyond. Equally important is our desire to have young people to grow up knowing they can be proud of their parents and speak openly about them with other children and adults. After getting to know who we are, we believe Utahans will understand that we share the same values and that we are very much ‘normal.’”
"Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah work tirelessly to promote tolerance and grow acceptance of LGBT people and families in Utah," Graddick continued. "We are proud to be working with them to raise visibility of this screening and the LGBT families impacted by KSL's decision."
More than 15 years ago, Birmingham, Alabama ABC affiliate refused to air “The Puppy Episode” of Ellen in which the main character came out as gay. GLAAD partnered with Birmingham Pride Alabama (BPA) to bring the show to an audience of thousands of Ellen fans.
Yesterday, GLAAD released the sixth annual Network Responsibility Index which maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people on primetime broadcast and cable TV. This year GLAAD for the first time tracked two cable networks that skew towards a more conservative audience including TLC, which surprisingly included LGBT impressions in 20% of their original programming hours. Even on more conservative channels, LGBT storylines are very much a part of the television landscape.
Details about The New Normal screenings will be forthcoming. The event will also include a panel discussion between LGBT families and other community representatives.
Watch the first episode of The New Normal now on NBC’s website and share your thoughts below!