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GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios talks to Greg In Hollywood about Kish and his organization’s work

GLAAD’s President Jarrett Barrios and I had a chat at the recent media awards in Los Angeles. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation works to empower people to share their stories, tries to hold the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helps grassroots organizations communicate effectively.
Recently, GLAAD issued a Call to Action against CNN for featuring discredited “ex-gay” Richard Cohen on a segment regarding California’s “gay cure” bill as well as ABC daytime’s decision to pull the plug on the One Life to Live gay storyline that featured the gay characters of Oliver Fish (Scott Evans) and Kyle Lewis (Brett Claywell).
Here is our conversation:

Q. Let me ask you about what happened on One Life to Live and the Fish and Kyle storyline being written out. It was like a dagger in our hearts.

A. When you think about the demographic of the folks that we need to persuade to support gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender equality, it’s a lot of those women – and men – who stay at home during the daytime and watch daytime television. Having an openly gay character in a relationship, having an openly gay depiction of affection and love, it’s so important. When we talk about gay marriage, it’s not about special rights, it’s about people who love each other. If you can’t understand that love because you’ve never seen it, you’re not as likely to support our equality. That’s why that storyline has been so important. It’s really unfortunate that things didn’t continue.

President of  GLAAD Jarrett Barrios attends the 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The  New York Marriott Marquis on March 13, 2010 in New York City.

Q. GLAAD and some of the other LGBT organizations come under a lot more fire from bloggers and others these days who feel you aren’t being very effective or maybe reacting quickly enough to situations.

A. We’re not a blog. If you’re running a blog you can immediately go in and go after like CNN. But before we go after CNN, we have to do our homework. We have to investigate and confirm … We are viewed as a reliable resource for a lot of members of the press so we need to make sure. A lot of times it takes 48-72 hours before we can respond. So sometimes you’ll hear, ‘Where’s GLAAD?’ Well GLAAD is getting its ducks in a row so that when we do take action, we’ve made sure that we’ve checked out facts, we’ve dotted out i’s and crossed out t’s and our advocacy can be that much more effective.”

Q. Media has grown and changed so much because of the Internet and cable, there’s so much more to kep track of. How has that changed how GLAAD does its job?

A. Media has grown in some areas but it’s shrunk in other areas. There are fewer newspapers than there were five years ago. Where it’s grown is in social media: Facebook and Twitter presence. The advocacy we do reaching people through social media has grown immensely. And our advocacy impact has grown too because it’s so much easier now to reach people. Put it on Facebook, put it on Twitter, and people take action immediately. It’s very important that GLAAD take full advantage of that.



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