The Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute (CMI) is out with a new report blasting the recent report by GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, on LGBT media representation. GLAAD reviewed television programming hours to measure “on-screen inclusion of LGBT representations.” Irate, the CMI contends that LGBT characters are actually over-represented in television programming, calling it a “distortion of reality.”
This won’t be the first time the MRC and its CMI affiliate attacked positive representations of the LGBT community in the media. MRC head Brent Bozell went on a tirade against the shows Glee and Degrassi for employing “gay propaganda,” and the CMI repeatedly targeted J.Crew for having a gay model and for promoting a nail polish line made by the designer whose young son wears nail polish on his toes.
Note to TV networks: Don’t even think about downsizing the disproportionate airtime you give gay characters and issues. The bean-counters at GLAAD are watching.
But the near-ubiquity of homosexual characters on television flies in the face of demographic reality. Current studies indicate that the homosexual population in the United States is around 2 to 4 percent. The Williams Institute’s (which the Huffington Post called the “Brookings Institution” of the gay rights movement) demographer-in-residence Gary Gates estimated that about 4 percent of the US population is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (he estimates that 1.7 percent of the U.S. population is gay or lesbian, 1.8 percent are bisexual, and .3 percent are transgender).
But GLAAD has good reason to reward TV’s distortion of reality. GLAAD’s own report states that “Of the 19% who reported that their feelings toward gay and lesbian people have become more favorable over the past 5 years, 34% cited ‘seeing gay or lesbian characters on television’ as a contributing factor.” GLAAD’s acting president, Mike Thompson, crowed that, “As television audiences get to know our community and the common ground that we all share on the screen and in their own lives, acceptance is growing.”
And also, the mistaken notion that homosexuality is widespread in America is growing. An April Gallup poll revealed that more than half of Americans believed that the homosexual population in America is over 20 percent. The poll cited entertainment as a possible factor, declaring that “This [poll] suggests Americans have had even more exposure to gays and lesbians, be it in their personal lives or through entertainment or other means.”
So if it seems that you can’t flip through the channels today without running across gay characters or story lines, you’re right. You can’t. And GLAAD’s there to make sure of it.