Editors' Note: Guest blogger Derek Hartley is a radio talk show host and writer living in New York. He is one half of the radio duo Derek and Romaine, airing weekdays nationwide on SIRIUS XM Radio's OutQ Channel. He also blogs semi-annually on his personal website. Photo credit: Brian Orter.
Romaine and I accepted a GLAAD Award on Saturday night but you would never know it from the media coverage of the event, especially the coverage from gay media. For years, we have all railed against GLAAD for tripping over themselves to lavish attention and praise on whatever straight celebrity was willing to show up at their event to get an award (Jennifer Aniston... a nice lady and all, but really?!) while ignoring worthy efforts done by LGBT people everywhere.
Since then, GLAAD has made huge strides in correcting this, while gay media has continued to lag behind in the coverage of gay people. Well, gay people who haven't been anointed by mainstream media. After six years of broadcast our show is good enough for TIME Magazine and The Washington Post to praise but I guess that doesn't reach the tipping point to make us worthy of even a short blurb in The Advocate.
The world may see the gay community as a trend setter but in gay media, it is all follow-the-leader. The gay people profiled and pushed in our own media get there because attention was paid to them first in "straight" media. Everyone politely forgets the real damage Clay Aiken did to the gay community for years before coming out on the cover of People Magazine in 2008, and as I predicted on my radio show last year, he was front and center at the GLAAD Awards just a few scant months later, with the gay press on the red carpet scrambling to get a sound byte.
Two years ago, the Claymates tried to get a personal friend of mine fired from his job, assaulting the head of his company with weeks of angry phone calls and emails for daring to tell the truth about Clay's unseemly internet advances. But Clay is famous! So let bygones be bygones.
Our award was a Special Recognition, one of only four given out on Saturday night (Suze Orman, Tyra Banks, Phil Donahue and us), for a radio special we did called "The Laramie Project Ten Years Later: The Lasting Legacy Of Matthew Shepard." Yes, I am certain a documentary about the most produced play in America's colleges and high schools does sound more dry than Tyra giving free sex reassignment surgery to Isis on her daytime talk show, but real people in this country face down the threat and danger of hate crimes every single day. And while the bodies stack up like cord wood from California to the Carolinas, gay media ignores what is happening until it is too late.
The passage of Prop 8 was a hate crime, don't kid yourself. And Keith Olbermann himself admitted that he should have done his Special Comment before the vote instead of after, which he acknowledged in front of the teary-eyed crowd at the Marriott Marquis as he accepted his GLAAD Award for his brave closing of the barn door after the horse was gone (wither Rachel Maddow).
The work to fight hate in this country continues every single day. Judy Shepard is still traveling around the world getting the word out. Our award was an opportunity for the gay community to highlight the real work being done out there to help prevent the next Lawrence King or Ryan Skipper. Maybe even promote the free download of the special now at SiriusOutQ.com where donations are being solicited for the Matthew Shepard Foundation so that they can continue to fund their good work even as the spotlight has faded. And in the week after George Weber was murdered right here in NYC, one of the websites we helped promote at launch, cut us from the piece written about the GLAAD Awards.
A teacher in Oklahoma was just fired for doing scenes from The Laramie Project at her school, but AfterElton.com didn't want to interview us on the red carpet. I guess we weren't as topical and timely as the genuinely lovely Phil Donahue whose show went off the air quietly 13 years ago. After waiting to be interviewed by the AfterElton.com reporter, we were told he was gone, having to leave early. Except that I saw him and his ugly purple vest upstairs in the media viewing area later during the show.
So even though we host a radio show available to 19 million subscribers across North America in numbers that swamp nearly all the rest of gay media, we'll spend another year in gay media purgatory not on the OUT 100 list and other cherry-picked personal vendettas in print form. Meanwhile not-out gay celebrities will walk the red carpet at GLAAD with immunity and present awards, getting free passes from gay media because they are really funny on that ABC show of theirs even if their personal life is just too personal to discuss.
Everyone wanted to Join The Impact after Prop 8 passed in California but why were some people so slow to act beforehand? Why did it take Brad Pitt putting his money where his mouth was before Ellen DeGeneres? I guess some people don't feel it is important to do anything until it is already too late. After all, crying over spilled milk is always better television than making sure the milk doesn't spill in the first place.
Last weekend, while sitting in the SIRIUS XM booth at Pride South Florida some gay walked by and tossed an unwanted folded-over flyer onto our table as he passed by. I took his thoughtlessly discarded trash and threw it right back at him, much to the horror of another gay man walking by who couldn't believe how rude I was.
As far as I am concerned, there are two kinds of gay people in this world: those who just accept the trash thrown at them and do nothing and those who take the trash and throw it right back. Well, I am the second kind of gay. Here is your trash back gay media.
Shove it up your ass.