Bil Browning

COW: Becky Juro on GLAAD Prez's Resignation

Filed By Bil Browning | June 19, 2011 7:15 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: AT&T, FCC filings, GLAAD, Jarrett Barrios, T-Mobile

comment-of-week.jpgContributor Rebecca Juro commented on my post, "GLAAD Chief Resigns Over AT&T FCC Flap":

I don't know a lot about Barrios, but everything I did know seemed to indicate to me that he just wasn't the right guy to lead this org. He seemed far too much a part of the elite gay crowd and not nearly enough of a serious activist. Then again, I've felt for quite some time now that GLAAD should spend a lot less time throwing galas and mingling with stars and a lot more on the real down and dirty work of media advocacy. I hope they put a real hands-on grassroots activist in that position. GLAAD desperately needs to start getting its hands dirty and advocating more effectively for LGBT representation in the media, even when, and in fact especially when, it pisses off the big-money elites.

I disagree. While GLAAD had become solely known for their fundraisers and galas, I think that the group regained a sentence of purpose under Barrios' leadership and had started moving the ball forward. Change moves slow at a multi-million dollar not-for-profit though.

If you look at all of the instances of bad media reporting, transphobic sitcoms, and general anti-LGBT entertainment the group has deftly handled over the past bit, I think they've quickly grown and matured quite a bit. I'd like to see more of that - and while the staff that's there now implemented and actually worked to bring that change to the embattled org, Barrios set the agenda. I completely disagree with how he handled this AT&T/FCC situation, but that doesn't mean everything he touched went to hell.

There are a lot of good people at GLAAD doing thankless work and we need to recognize that. Most of them, I believe, would also love to see a leader willing to get their hands dirty too. They had one, but he failed in another area. It's sad, really.

So what do you think, gang? Did GLAAD up their game recently under Barrios' leadership or are they still the galas group? Do you think his resignation will help or hurt the organization?

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Bil, I don't think everything Barrios did was bad or wrong, but I also think he was far too much a part of elite gay circles and not enough of a real grassroots activist. I should also point out that my comment was directed specifically at Barrios, not necessarily at the org as a whole.

When GLAAD does put it's mind to it they can do truly great things and have quite an impact. Their part in calling out Greg Grunberg for his Twitter comments about Chaz Bono proved that quite well. My point was that they need to do more of that and focus less on the celebs and bright lights. To my way of thinking, real activism isn't about star-studded galas and handing out awards to our friends, it's about doing the hard and often unnoticed and unheralded work of changing hearts and minds.

All I can say Bil is that I see GLAAD guilty of Defaming Transsexuals that don't want to be either Transgender labeled or necessarily seen as being within the LGBT. For a long time now Transsexuals have been asking them to change some of the offensive content in the media guide and they have failed to even respond. I have a copy of an email that I sent to them that was nicely worded asking them to acknowledge in their media guide that not all Transsexuals are LGBT aligned or Transgender identified. I hope that at some point GLAAD is brought to court over this and given a much needed spanking and financial loss.

While I'm fully in favor of people having the right to self-identify however they wish, this is where I jump off the boat.

Take GLAAD to court? And exactly what would you charge them with? Not defining your gender as you personally see fit? Y'see, there's this thing we have in our country called the First Amendment that says that GLAAD can say whatever they want and define you however they wish in their own publication...and you can do exactly the same to them. No harm, no foul, legally at least.

If you don't like what GLAAD has to say about you and your self-definition, you have the right to call them out and challenge them on it publicly. You don't have the right to sue them. This is a topic that can and should be discussed and debated within the community, but let's keep it real, Lisa.

Lets keep it real Becky how does the gay community get to claim they represent every T person and slap an unwanted umbrella label on them when it can easily argued the greatest majority are heterosexual and the remaining balance are really discarded LGB? If they tried that with any other group but T people they would have been handed their lunch a long time ago. I see GLAAD as violating my civil rights and defaming me and I believe that sometime in the not so distant future you will see a class action lawsuit filed against them for it. Freedom of the press doesn't involve turning people into gay community members against their will or taking away their rights to political independence by painting them as Democrats.

I am sure you are correct when you say there are transsexuals who are not transgender or LGBT-identified (although I don't know any personally) -- but there are also gay men -- "MSM's" -- and lesbians and bi's who are not LGBT-identified. Some are completely closeted, some are not, but if an individual does not respond with some sort of community or political sense of identity, then that person becomes that much more difficult to "define" and perceive accurately and, thus, represent. If you want to be represented, you at least have to stand up and say, "Here I am."

People who are totally clandestine are un-represent-able.

AJ You are right that people who choose not to stand up are unrepresentable and that doesn't matter if they are LGB or a T. The point I'm making is just because they choose for whatever reasons not to be open that doesn't automatically give the LGBT the right to claim them or to falsely represent them in legislation they may or may not approve of. My main concern is T's because in that case I believe there really is a good case against LGBT abuse of a suspect class.

I think GLAAD needs to recognize transsexuals as different and separate from transgender and give clear definitions for both that are generally accepted by not only WAPATH but also by the Transsexual community at large. pre posed definitions should be posted and a comment time allowed just as the latest pre posed language for the DMSV was done. IF ANYONE ever hopes to end this war between ts and tg releasing ts women from that damn stupid umbrella is a good place top start and giving them back they're Identities would go a long way GLAAD can help this process along. It would be to the benefit of everyone including the Transgender community if any of us ever hopes to move forward politically or socially.

It may be galling for activists working at the coalface and witnessing the misery which attitudes reflected in the media can cause to LGBT people but I'm surprised it isn't obvious that often by far the most effective way to change those attitudes is to find and create ways to 'hobnob' with the people who work in the media. This is especially true of the 'T' because 95plus% of the time the single most pernicious aspect is that there is zero awareness of what a trans life might mean ... ZERO. Blinded by recycled stereotypes which have little bearing on reality, broadcasters and journalists are simply unaware there might be an issue ... and if you write to them about it or shout at them about it, their lack of awareness is so complete that you're dismissed as 'crazy'. Arrange to meet with them, talk to them, socialise with them ... yes, even at 'glitzy' events ... and just that fact of having met a trans person can change those attitudes over night.

Justus Eisfeld Justus Eisfeld | June 20, 2011 6:10 AM

Given the high levels if alcohol abuse that affect our various communities I would like to see GLAAD not appearing on Vodka posters along the New York City Gay Pride Parade route. That is not helping the community - it is hurting us when organizations with respect in large parts of the community lend their seal of approval to sell items that have such a huge and negative impact on our community. I don't care how well that Vodka brand caters to us, or how inclusive they target all parts of our communities or how well-written their anti-discrimination policies are.

This is an excellent point. It's like gay pride is being sponsored by alcohol companies. We have such horrifically high rates of addiction in our community. Taking our money from these companies does nothing to change that.

Many critics of Pride have been talking about this for years. As long as 10 years ago, there was a movement at SF Pride to turn with your back to a float every time on of the dozens of booze promoting floats would go by. Yet there are many apologists in the LGBTQ community who will take their dollars no matter how filthy the money is. GLAAD has been one of the worst with this, but not the only one.


While I think all of us can agree that GLAAD has had some excellent moments in the time of Barrios' tenure, there is no denying that he's been out for his own agenda since the moment he took over that organization. As a Bostonian, I've known Jarrett peripherally since his work as a State Legislator here. While he did some outstanding work securing marriage equality etc., I've never found him to be a particularly compelling public speaker. In fact, at moments I've found him down right painful to listen to. You can understand my surprise when he was named head of what is arguably our movement's largest communications group (particularly knowing some of the other candidates who were being considered and far more qualified). This falls in line with what others have articulated about him being part of an elite club with the right connections, rather than most qualified for the job.

The positive moments of grassroots activism and prompt public response to media issues this year has no doubt been in large part due to the hard work of the GLAAD staff, rather than solid leadership from Barrios. I suspect there are a number of good, hard working staff at GLAAD who have not gotten their due for some time now.

Furthermore, it is notable to me that we were promised a full statement on Barrios' resignation within the evening. 24 or so hours later, it has yet to appear. There is speculation among reputable bloggers (Pam Spaulding and the like) that Barrios is attempting to wrangle the board in his favor. Is this the kind of forward thinking leadership GLAAD and are community need? I don't think so. This is nothing more than an embattled leader pushing his own agenda, as per usual at GLAAD.

Becky for the 'win'... Bil for the apologist.

Personally, I wish that GLAAD would become a grass-roots organization, not only operatively but also structurally.

One reason why I object to sending in my annual dues is that I know that, unless something really big happens, GLAAD doesn't realize that Indiana is even on the map. It takes Tony Dungy telling all the LGBT fans of the Indianapolis Colts to go jump into Lake Michigan before people in fly-over country get GLAAD's attention. And I know that none of those fancy award shows will ever take place within driving distance of where I live -- if we could even get one in Chicago, that would be an improvement, but the party life in Chi-town isn't as good as in NYC, Hollywood, or Miami.

Although they do have regional offices (that they pay beaucoup rent on), I think it would be a better direction for GLAAD to go if they sought to form local chapters -- even one grass-roots chapter in every state would be a big improvement. And the notion that, say, the Indiana people put on an awards dinner in Indiana, makes more sense than expecting me to buy a plane ticket to NYC or LA.

Also, as the word gets out that being LGBT is not such a big deal, an org like GLAAD needs to move their target efforts to smaller cities and towns and even rural areas -- how do rural LGBT people show they exist without completely pissing off the communities around them? (Some people you are bound to piss off, because some people think we don't have a right to exist -- but you want to have a media presence so that like-souls can find you, and so that people can't claim, "Well, there aren't any queers here in Podunk County.")

Once there were a reasonable number of local groups established, then the HQ could function as the "consulting group" for the local folks.

But as GLAAD now stands, not only do they not encourage local groups, they even prohibit them, because GLAAD has a "brand name" to protect! Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

As I've said before, the org I envision GLAAD could be is so different, it might be easier to start a new org from scratch.