A Lesson from Two TV Shows

Two TV shows aired this week that painted an important lesson on
how best our community should focus our fight for equal rights. The
first dealt with same-sex parenting and aired on the FX network’s
show “30 Days.” The second, “The GLAAD Media Awards” was a
2-hour wards show on BRAVO.

30 Days” features a person or group submersing themselves in a
living arrangement that is unfamiliar to them such as spending time
in prison or working for minimum wage, living with a family with a
different religious preference. The series created and hosted by
Morgan Spurlock (who wrote, directed, produced and starred in the
2004 movie “Super Size Me).

This week’s episode, which aired on Tuesday night, was called
“Same-Sex Parenting.” It featured a devout Mormon mom from
California named Keli who went to live for thirty days in Michigan
with a gay male couple and their four adopted sons. Keli held
strong religious beliefs against homosexuality and was definitely
against gays being able to raise children. The entire show was
fraught with tension as Keli saw two loving dads do an excellent
job of parenting their sons, was given a tour of where children who
were unable to be placed in foster homes or adopted were forced to
live in Detroit.

Keli met with a group of gay parents and even attended a gay
friendly church service. As the show progressed you could tell that
she grew to like and respect the two gay dads and couldn’t help
that their four sons were being well raised in a loving home.
However, she never could overcome her strong religious beliefs and
at the end of the 30 days she returned to California still
believing that gays and lesbians should not raise children. In
fact, GLAAD has a “Call to Action” on their website condemning
FX’s refusal to correct a defamatory misrepresentation made by a
spokesperson for the Family Research Council during the

Any gay person watching could not help but feel depressed at the
end of the episode that Keli was unable to overcome her deeply
rooted religious beliefs. Anybody who shared her beliefs would have
been relieved that Keli was not perverted by the devil and didn’t
give in to the sin of homosexuality.

An earlier episode of “30 Days” that aired during the series
first season in 2005 called “Straight Man in a Gay World” has a
much happier ending. It featured Ryan, a God fearing 24-year old
conservative homophobic man from a red state, who went to live with
Ed, a 38-year old gay man in the Castro in San Francisco who was a
marketing consultant. In that episode Ryan’s views changed
dramatically during his month of emersion into the LGBT

Last night’s broadcast of the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards
from Los Angeles and New York. The two-hour awards show featured
television and film clips that showed just how far we have come in
the portrayal of LGBT people, families and issues. As I watched
clips from movies, TV comedies, dramas, documentaries and news
programs I was astounded at how far we have come in just the past

One couldn’t help but feel pride and hope as the New York
portion of the awards featured Barbara Walters, Randy Jackson,
Kevin Bacon, Graham Norton, Kate Clinton, Kyra Sedgewick and Alan
Cumming being amongst the celebrities in New York. Judy Sheppard
was presented the Excellence in Media Award. I even spied a glimpse
of Cathy Renna in the audience.

The Los Angeles awards were every bit as uplifting as Sally
Field, T. R. Knight, Gary Marshall, Jimmy Kimmell, Zoe Saldana,
Ellen DeGeneres, Kathy Griffin, Matthew Rhys, Sarah Silverman and
Rachel Griffiths were amongst the dozens of celebrities in
attendance. Ellen DeGeneres gave Janet Jackson GLAAD’s Vanguard

The lesson that I took away from noticing the vast contrast
between Tuesday night’s “30 Days” and last nights “19th
Annual GLAAD Media Awards” was striking. Concentrating our
efforts on reforming our adversaries is futile. Playing to the
open-minded moveable middle is where we will empower change. Our
opponents are as fervent in their beliefs as we are in ours. Just
as Barack Obama is unlikely to convince many die-hard conservative
Republicans to vote for him in November, the LGBT community is
unlikely to win the hearts of bible thumping religious
fundamentalists. The moveable middle is where our battle for equal
rights will be won.