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Up close and personal: A follow-up

June 24, 2008

Remember Thomas and Dennis, that adorable couple I wrote about earlier this month who agreed to host a fundamentalist Christian for a month as part of FX’s 30 Days? Well, the episode features some unfortunate (and inaccurate) statements about gay people (surprise surprise) and GLAAD is urging people to write in, as The Advocate reports:

The episode includes a defamatory statement by Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, who, according to GLAAD’s press release, is quoted as saying: “Homosexuality is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse, and those are all reasons for us to be concerned about placing children into that kind of setting.”

Now, for those of you keeping score at home, that’s B.S., and the dark side these kinds of people have a great tendency to use completely unscientific “studies” to back up their arguments. Those studies tend to make up facts and, when they even bother to mention them, have truly laughable methods.

No doubt somebody will jump out at me (or just yell at their monitor) to say, “Hey, gays do have more (societal or mental issue)s than straights!” And I say that while some problems may be slightly more easily found in the gay community, we have to deal with a lot of crap from everyone else. Wouldn’t you have more stress in your life if you had to look over your shoulder before you gave your loved one a hug? What if major organizations made a habit of discriminating against you, like the Minneapolis Archdiocese recently did when it forbade a church from giving a gay pride service, saying things like “‘church property is sanctified, and to celebrate GLBT…is contrary to the teachings of our church, plain and simple'”? And don’t you think attacking us less might make it easier for us to lead healthy lives? The answer, in case you’re wondering, is “yes it would,” and we can see that younger gays and lesbians, who have grown up in a much more tolerant world, are considerably healthier than the gays of old.

But back to the issue at hand:

After reviewing a screener supplied by FX Networks, GLAAD and the Family Equality Council, a national nonprofit working to ensure equality for LGBT families, contacted FX, requesting that the inaccurate claim be removed from the episode or that a credible social science expert be brought in to provide an on-air correction.

When I first saw this article’s headline, I thought GLAAD was probably being oversensitive and taking offense at some ridiculous thing the house guest said. But the fact that they show an “authority figure” (however obviously wrong he may actually be) does lend some weight to those views, if only in the minds of people who don’t do any research (or thinking) for themselves. And the real proof that GLAAD was right to say something is the network’s response:

FX Networks refused to remove the statement or address it during the course of the episode.

Ouch. While I freely admit that I haven’t seen the episode, this doesn’t sound good at all. What possible reason would they have for not splicing in a competing view from a real expert an expert who takes a different view? The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is because they don’t want to “offend” their viewers, which in this case seems to mean telling them the truth.

I’ll wait to condemn this episode until I see it (though it may be a while, since I don’t get FX). But from what’s been outlined above, it sounds like FX took a great opportunity to show a large group of people that hey, gay people are just like everybody else, and squandered it. I sincerely hope that the love in Thomas and Dennis’ family shines through the sludge with which this network has mixed it.

For those looking to take action, the Advocate‘s story has a list of people to write to at FX to voice your concerns.

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