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20 Years of GLAAD: GLAAD Milestones

Jan 30, 2006  •  Post A Comment

By Lee Alan Hill



Highlights of GLAAD’s 20-year history of activism against lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender defamation.



1985: GLAAD is founded in New York in protest of what founders see as sensational and defamatory AIDS coverage.

1987: After a GLAAD campaign, The New York Times agrees to change its editorial stylebook to use the word “gay” instead of “homosexual.” Since that time, GLAAD’s Announcing Equality project has helped convince more than 140 newspapers across the country-The New York Times among them-to include same-sex union announcements alongside traditional wedding listings.

1988: Bob Hope uses the word “fag” during an appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show.” After protests from GLAAD, he finances and produces PSAs condemning anti-gay violence and becomes a sponsor of GLAAD’s Media Awards.

1990: After GLAAD protests, CBS suspends and reprimands “60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney for making a statement considered homophobic.

1992: Entertainment Weekly names GLAAD one of the Most Powerful Entities in Hollywood.

1994: When it appears ABC may buckle to pressure and pull an episode of “Roseanne” in which the title character kisses a woman, GLAAD organizes a successful campaign to ensure the episode will air.

1997: After a six-month “Let Ellen Out” campaign by GLAAD, ABC announces that on April 30 the character portrayed by Ellen DeGeneres on her sitcom “Ellen” will disclose she is a lesbian and thereby becomes the first lead LGBT character on a TV series.

1998: The WB agrees to re-edit an episode of “The Wayans Bros.” after the originally aired episode sparks protests from GLAAD that the content is defamatory.

  • GLAAD praises the premiere of NBC’s “Will & Grace,” the first TV series in which, from the outset, gays and gay sexuality are intrinsic to the plot of the series.

  • GLAAD teams with Showtime to organize special screenings of the miniseries “Tales of the City,” in which gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters are central to the plot.

  • The season after the lead character in “Ellen” came out as a lesbian, GLAAD organizes a “Save Ellen” campaign to keep the sitcom on the air. It fails and the series is canceled.

    1999: After the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s monthly newsletter includes a critique of the children’s show “Teletubbies” that claims the character Tinky Winky is gay, GLAAD Executive Director Joan Garry appears on national television news shows criticizing the Rev. Falwell’s remarks as homophobic.

  • GLAAD honors MTV for its “active, front-line positions in the battle for fair and accurate representation of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people.”

  • Car manufacturer Kia runs a nationwide ad featuring a transgender person labeled as a “freak of nature.” After discussions with GLAAD, Kia drops the commercial.

    2000: GLAAD meets with Paramount TV executives to express concerns that an upcoming TV series hosted by Laura Schlessinger will be another forum for the radio talk show host to defame gays and lesbians. Within a year, Ms. Schlessinger’s TV show is canceled and GLAAD receives the Nonprofit PR Team of the Year Award from PRWeek.

    2004: GLAAD publicly challenges a report on ABC’s newsmagazine “20/20” that claims hate crime victim Matthew Shepard’s murder was actually a drug-induced robbery gone bad.

    2005: GLAAD protests anti-gay violence being shown as entertainment on Spanish-language TV shows “Jose Luis Sin Censura” and “El Show de Maria Laria,” produced for Liberman Broadcasting Corp. Liberman continues to run the shows, but Nissan, Chevrolet and KFC pull their sponsorships.

  • GLAAD springs into action after it receives a pre-air screener of the pilot episode of Fox’s “The War at Home” and discovers that a character thought to be gay is referred to as a “fag.” Before the episode airs, the epithet is excised.

  • Logo, a new Viacom cable TV network programmed for the LGBT audience, runs GLAAD’s Media Awards as a 90-minute special, the first time the awards are televised other than in short snippets and sound bites on TV news broadcasts.

    2006: Miami is added to the list of cities hosting GLAAD’s Media Awards, joining Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

  • GLAAD and ABC join forces to produce a PSA to run with the daytime soap “General Hospital” in conjunction with a story line involving hate crime and gay teens.