September 3, 2011; Source: LGBTQ Nation | Queer folk are ubiquitous in popular media. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) women and men jockey to be the next Oprah, appear regularly in primetime television shows, give style advice in magazines and blogs, and dance with the “stars.”
The portrayal of LGBT individuals and families, while on its way to mirroring reality, still has a way to go. Stereotypes and caricatures are prevalent and enduring.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) recognizes and honors “fair and accurate representations” of the LGBT community through its annual Amplifier Awards which single out television, print, outdoor, and social media advertising campaigns that promote positive images of LGBT people and issues.
This year’s award recipients were named on September 2 and featured mainstream advertising such as Google Chrome’s television campaign “The Web is What You Make of It: It Gets Better Project” which encourages LGBT youth not to give up; Kaiser Permanente’s print campaign “Stick Around. Things Get Interesting” which pictures an extended family that embraces a gay couple and their baby; and American Airlines’ outdoor campaign “Beach Towel” which depicts vacationing gay and straight couples.
GLAAD Acting President Mike Thompson told LGBTQ Nationthat “the advertising industry is still behind news and entertainment media in terms of including images that reflect the diversity of LGBT people. By highlighting the great work of all of our award recipients with an Amplifier Award, we hope their corporate peers will begin including our community in ads which accurately reflect the fabric of American culture today.”
Thanking individuals, organizations, and others for promoting the interests of a minority group is not new. For example, the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, honors those who have furthered the rights of Latinos during its annual conference. And local groups like Ten Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA-NY) hold their own awards ceremonies to recognize individuals who have positively raised the profile of their communities.
By contrast, a key attribute of the GLAAD awards is that they recognize forms of popular culture that mainly originate outsidethe community that promotes the welfare of LGBT Americans. LGBT advocacy groups understand the important role of allies in calling attention to the community’s struggle for equal rights, and they raise up these supporters as models for observers who might otherwise not be as aware of or predisposed toward the interests and concerns of LGBT individuals and families.
Minority advocacy organizations tend to recognize examples of achievement within their own communities, as well they should. The GLAAD awards show that they also stand to gain by recognizing and encouraging support from outside the community.—Erwin de Leon