Valentine's Day Media Resource Kit | January 2009
Valentine's Day receives a great deal of media attention. Print and electronic press outlets nationwide share stories of couples proclaiming their love and commitment for one another. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples are often excluded from Valentine's Day media coverage—and LGBT couples of color receive even less attention in both mainstream and people of color media. GLAAD hopes that the following resources will help you produce Valentine's Day stories that reflect the true diversity of our society by including LGBT couples in the coverage of this romantic holiday.
LGBT people and relationships are often excluded by the kinds of language media professionals choose to use. Consider the language used to describe couples in general: Does it assume that all couples are heterosexual? Does it allow for non-traditional families? Does it subtly endorse opposite-sex relationships while marginalizing same-sex commitments? GLAAD encourages media to use words and descriptions that can be universally applied to all couples – gay and straight – and that respect the significance of their commitments.
LGBT people use a variety of terms to describe their relationships and significant others, including: partner, spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, lover, husband/wife, companion, same gender loving couples (for couples from communities of African descent), marriage, partnership and family, among others. We encourage you to ask people which term they would like you to use. Also, please do not put quotation marks around the description, as this implies the described relationship is somehow illegitimate.
GLAAD'S Media Reference Guide contains a comprehensive glossary of LGBT-related terminology.
NEWSPAPERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY RECOGNIZE SAME-SEX UNIONS
A growing number of newspapers are committed to reporting on weddings, civil unions and commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. In 2008, six years after persuading The New York Times to open its Weddings/Celebrations pages to same-sex couples and launching its Announcing Equality campaign, GLAAD now reports that 1,049 newspapers – nearly 72 percent of all daily newspapers in the United States – now accept wedding and/or commitment ceremony announcements for gay and lesbian couples. In late 2002, only 70 newspapers said they would print such announcements.
For additional information, visit our Announcing Equality resource.
In reporting on LGBT couples, please also remember that they are as diverse as the rest of society, crossing lines of gender, race, age, income, class, family structure, religion, geography and political affiliation. We encourage you to reflect this diversity in your coverage.
Below, you will find statistics and demographic information on couples in communities of color.
The 2010 U.S. Census describes couples by the race or ethnicity of the "householder" on the Census form. The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, a UCLA-based think tank, has conducted extensive research on the U.S. Census and what it reveals about LGBT couples of color. According to the 2012 Williams Institute study, "Same-sex couples in Census 2010: Race and Ethnicity," research found that:
- The 2010 Census showed that, in general, the racial/ethnic distribution of same-sex couples by householder was similar to that of different-sex couple householders.
- The number of same-sex couple households in the United States grew by more than 80 percent from 2000 to 2010, from 358,390 households in 2000 to 646,464 in 2010.
- The rate of increase in same-sex couple households was much higher than that in all households, and in different-sex couple households.
- The states with the largest percentage of interracial or interethnic same-sex couple households include: Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska, and Hawaii, and the District of Columbia.
BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER PEOPLE IN RELATIONSHIPS
As stories of same-sex couples in the mainstream media are growing in number, they often do not include the experiences of bisexual and transgender people in relationships. Bisexual and transgender people who are part of a couple may be in same-sex or different-sex relationships. It is important that these members of the larger LGBT community see their relationships reflected in coverage of Valentine's Day, and that audiences see that their families are valued parts of our communities.
Below are some important things to keep in mind when reporting on bisexual and transgender people in relationships.
- Rather than relying on stereotypes about bisexual or transgender people in relationships, allow couples to tell their story.
- In stories involving a bisexual member of a couple, avoid making inaccurate links between bisexuality and in infidelity, promiscuity, or indecisiveness.
- In stories involving a transgender member of a couple, be sure to refer to the transgender person with the correct name and pronouns.
- Couples that have bisexual or transgender members should not be referred to as a "gay couple" even if they are of the same gender.
- When reporting on the relationship of a transgender person that lasted through their transition, avoid unecessary and exploitative statements such as, "Once a husband, now a wife..."
Please consider integrating LGBT couples into your Valentine's Day feature story. You might cover topics such as:
- Couples looking back at how they met
- Valentine's Day weddings and anniversaries
- Dating trends (meeting online, dating services, blind dates, etc.)
- Anniversaries of marriage equality legislation: Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (2009), Vermont (2009), Washington, D.C. (2009), New Hampshire (2009), New York (2011), Maine (2012), Maryland (2012) and Washington state (2012).
- Valentine's Day events for singles
- Long-distance relationships
- Surprise marriage proposals on Valentine's Day
- Retired couples re-igniting romance
- Planning a Valentine's Day getaway
- Couples' favorite poems, songs, vacation spots, etc.
- Choosing the perfect Valentine's Day gift
- High school sweethearts
- Celebrity couples and break-ups
- Wedding-day successes and disasters
- Balancing romance and family obligations
- Workplace romances
- Bi-national couples’ stories
- Making Valentine’s Day dinner reservations – especially at the last minute
-Finding a babysitter on Valentine’s Day
- Include romantic lesbian/gay-owned restaurants in your area in your list of Valentines Day dating recommendations.
- Include lesbian/gay-themed comedies or dramas in your list of all-time most romantic movies.
- List relationship development books for same-sex couples in features about keeping romance alive.
- Talk to local jewelry stores, wedding planners, bakeries, florists and other companies that offer services and products for same-sex couples' commitment ceremonies.
- Talk to pastors who conduct same-sex ceremonies at inclusive churches, particularly in communities of color.
RESOURCES & INFORMATION FOR INCLUSIVE COVERAGE BY TOPIC:
LOCATING LGBT COUPLES FOR INTERVIEWS
For help in finding LGBT organizations or couples in your local media markets, please contact a member of GLAAD’s Media Field Strategy Team.
You may also want to contact the organizations listed in the MARRIAGE and CIVIL UNIONS sections below.
[NOTE: Marriage Equality also has chapters in California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington. Visit their Web site’s “chapters” link for more information.]
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE MEDIA IMAGES
COMMITMENT CEREMONY/MARRIAGE RESOURCES
International Commitment Ceremonies Registry