They Can Do That on TV?!

For many years a show aired twice a day, in the afternoon then again in the early evening and nationwide, in cities with large Latino populations. It was, for a quick comparison, like Jerry Springer only worse, if you can imagine.

Guests came on to battle it out with each other over, mostly, love or property. And, shockingly, audience members were encouraged to chant “maricón” “puto” “puñal” and other words synonymous with the word "faggot." Sometimes audience members would want to beat up the person they thought was gay. Women were regularly called “putas,” female guests urged to pull up their tops and show off their breasts and female guests would get into knock out drag out fights featuring graphic nudity at the women's expense.

It was degradation writ TV screen sized and beamed out to millions of homes. And it wasn’t right. It sent a terrible message to anyone watching of the incredibly diminished value of LGBT people, of women, of Latinos ourselves.

Fortunately, this show's egregious use of slurs and violence didn't go unnoticed. Thousands of people joined GLAAD and the National Hispanic Media Coalition's campaign to stop the show from allowing this.

GLAAD had a great partner in NHMC and together we engaged so many people in the campaign, including many advertisers who did not realize the type of content they were helping to support. We also worked with the Women's Media Center and had great support from community organizations like Bienestar.

The show went off the air in 2012 and on November 14, 2013 the FCC announced a decision to enter into a consent decree with the show’s producers and to fine them $110,000.

Bad programming can exist--but so too can great programming that entertains or informs while including people of all orientations and gender identities. In an era of excellent shows on CNN en Español, on Telemundo and Univision, Mundo Fox and Azteca América, and in a world where Fusion, the new English language channel exists, it’s clear that Latinos want quality programming.

Latinos have LGBT people in their families and circles of friends, and we don’t want to hear them called "puñal" on TV or on the streets. When we make people seem of lesser value because of their skin color or their gender or their orientation, we put those people in danger, because the message to society is ‘these people don’t matter.’ Oftentimes the last word someone hears before they are attacked or even killed is “faggot.”

At GLAAD we don’t want to see violence treated like an entertaining spectacle. We also don’t want to see LGBT characters be the joke of the skit or the stereotyped character on a novela. LGBT people are in every part of life, from construction workers to waitresses to doctors and boxers, singers, actresses and nurses. We are not stereotypes and we certainly won’t allow ourselves to be called “maricón” “joto” or any other derogatory term.

I look forward to a world of more inclusive shows—in Spanish and in English—where no one is diminished because of their skin color, the country they came from, their gender or their gender identity or orientation.