Something pretty big has to happen for me to break my cardinal rule of not blogging over the weekend, and indeed, it has.
GLAAD has broken its silence…sort of.
Late yesterday, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a statement regarding Paris Hilton’s obvious use of the n-word and the more important word, at least to them, the f-word.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today called on Paris Hilton to explain and apologize to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and African American communities for her use of anti-gay and racial slurs in a video that began circulating on the Web earlier this week.
The video, which appears to have been taken by an amateur videographer at a private party, shows Hilton referring to someone using the “F-word” and referring to herself and her sister, Nicky (who also calls a man the “F-word” in the video), by saying, “We’re like two [N-word]s.” In one stream of insults, Paris Hilton says,” [Expletive deleted] hoodlum, broke poor bitch from, like, Compton.”
The date of the video is unknown. “Access Hollywood” reports that it “appears to be several years old,” while ITV reports that the “video was filmed at a recent party.”
“When Paris Hilton utters these words into a camera, it creates a permanent record that — regardless of when it occurred and because it has been made public — she must bear responsibility for,” said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano. “These are not frivolous words, and to use them as if they are gives tacit sanction to the racism and homophobia they engender. Hilton has an obligation to go on the record, explain herself, and publicly apologize to the LGBT and African American communities and all those offended by these slurs.”
I was sitting at dinner and I received a text message from a friend alerting me to their response to which I was shocked and then angered about.
How can GLAAD find the wherewithal to respond to this and still say nothing about the white gay man who performs in blackface and mimics the worst stereotypes of Blacks?
I’ll tell you why, because they are only concerned with the negative portrayal of gays, not Blacks and since he is not making fun of gays, they don’t feel obligated to say anything.
Well, that’s bulls—-.
Me and GLAAD
I have never ever publicly talked about the reason why I abhor GLAAD so much but today seems as good a day as any to put it out there so that people can understand how this organization operates.
When I worked at GLAAD, I was naive. Many of my friends thought I was crazy and tried to convince not to take the job. Nevertheless, I was head strong and confident that I could make a change in their organization.
While I was there I met a lot of people, a lot of good people who moved on and that I am still friends with today that know exactly what I am about to speak of.
There is a white gay mafia, secret society, or whatever else you want to call it and when I worked at GLAAD there were people who were a part of it and people who thought they were a part of it.
Now keep in mind that I was hired to work at GLAAD as their “black representative.” I was the original People of Color Communities of African Descent Media Manager.
However, my thoughts on anything outside of Black media and Black gay issues were as irrelevant as my thoughts on those issues were. You following me?
For the most part, I sat in my cubicle in the back and minded my business, because at the end of the day I had the title but nothing else. When it came to People of Color (and I hate that term), it was all about their Spanish language efforts, hence the reason that they have Spanish language only categories in their GLAAD Media Awards ensuring that Latinos are fully represented.
I will never forget when I was first hired I went to lunch with the office at a little Italian place across the street from my office which was next door to one L.A. best African restaurants. An African friend of mine was passing by, saw me sitting with a group of white people, looked at me, and kept walking. I excused myself, got up, followed him into the restaurant, and said hello. He told me he wasn’t sure if it was ok to say hi to me. He was afraid because I was sitting with white people that I wouldn’t want to be acknowledged by him. That bothered me for a while because my people are my people, 24/7.
There are many things I could write about regarding my time at GLAAD and what people said and did that I felt was racially insensitive, but I won’t. Like I said, it’s the weekend and I am already breaking one of my staple rules by blogging in the first place.
I will tell you that the only time I was relevant was when GLAAD wanted to attack someone Black and me being naïve, sometimes I went along with it.
For example, the homophobia in reggae. I can’t tell you how many countless meetings and phone calls I had to endure about the homophobia in reggae and trying to explain to them what the issue was all about.
The management at the time was as racist as you can get.
And to be fair, many of those people are no longer with GLAAD, but to me much hasn’t changed.
Oh, did I mention that I was the only Black in the office when I worked there. I think that’s an important point to make as I launch into my next example.
I remember one day coming into the office and there being a bit of an excitement in the air. I didn’t know what it was all about and to this day, I still wish that I didn’t.
GLAAD’s top L.A. man, we’ll call him Number One, and to me the most racist white person I had ever met, was in a pickle.
He had a couple of hours to decide whether he and his partner were going to adopt a pair of Black baby boys that were available. I almost had a heart attack because this is the same man who would later become the reason that I left GLAAD but that I already knew had no respect for Black people. He adopting a Black baby to me amounted to another Black child growing up confused and self-hating.
But what can one do or say. While there were many people edging him on, saying go for it, I couldn’t help but cry a little inside.
So, back to my duties as GLAAD’s official Black person on duty.
Now everyone who knows me, knows that I am an integral part of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival. Besides overseeing their public relations, I curate the LGBT films shown in the festival every year and host a panel discussion on the images of Black gay in television and film.
Enter a naïve Jasmyne who is under the impression that this would be a perfect opportunity for GLAAD to get involved on the larger Black community by becoming a sponsor of the film festival and the LGBT programming. I mean after all, it was at the Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival that I first came in contact with GLAAD, so it was not unheard of for them.
I had the film festival’s Director of Development come down to GLAAD to meet with my boss, who quite frankly has been and will always be concerned with all things Latinos only. What did it amount to, nothing. GLAAD didn’t have any money to sponsor the film festival. Mind you, their operating budget at the time was $5.8 million.
There were many of those instances where I tried to get to sponsor a Black pride or a Black same-gender loving event and they weren’t having any parts of it.
Then there was the issue of their Media Awards and me being asked to compile a list of Black nominees, a list might I add that was never used because they didn’t care.
My involvement with the larger Black community was too much for GLAAD to handle, I wasn’t gay enough.
Flash forward and I decided to create an e-newsletter to Black gays about news and things that were going on the community. Of course, GLAAD didn’t have any contacts so I used my own. Little did I know, that was exactly what they wanted from me, my contact list.
One day while I was out, Number One decides for some reason to go through all of my emails and have them printed out. I remember walking to the printer that afternoon and seeing them and thinking to myself, I didn’t print that email. Later that afternoon, I am called into Number One’s office. He sits behind his desk and says to me, how did my interview with Phill Wilson of the Black AIDS Institute go? I said, without missing a beat, I haven’t had it yet, but thanks for asking.
So you’re wondering, where did that come from?
Well, when GLAAD went through my emails, they found an email from Phill to me asking me if I was interested in working the Institute and that he would be willing to meet with me to discuss it.
The conversation with Number One ended in you have a choice to quite and take two weeks severance pay or be fired and get nothing.
Yep, it ended just like that.
So when I write about my constant disappointment with GLAAD I write from a position of internal knowledge.
Shortly after I left GLAAD I did go and work for Phill as his Communication’s Director and it was the best thing that I could have ever done. Phill told me that if I could work for him for year that I would be prepared to work anywhere and he was right. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it and I learned a lot and was able to work for and with my people.
While at the Institute, Phill and I penned an op-ed entitled GLAAD Media Awards: Fair Accurate and Inclusive? The article was about how GLAAD annually overlooks the advancements made in the Black media on covering gay issues.
I will never forget getting an email from a GLAAD employee who told me and Phill that the mafia was at work making sure that it didn’t get printed in the Advocate and other gay publications and that we were right on the money.
2007 and GLAAD
So here we are today and from the outside looking in, not much has changed to me. Sure, they finally filled my old position and have given a Black a management position in their organization. But to me, it’s all about appearances because during the whole Isaiah Washington fiasco, it wasn’t GLAAD’s Blacks that were on the prime time news, if you know what I mean. However, one of them was allowed to talk to BlackAmericaWeb.com. This left me pondering, why they could talk to the Black media and not CNN.
The new President of GLAAD and I were scheduled to have a meeting early December and because we made the date so many months ahead of time, it fell off my calendar when it was confirmed that week. I am still open to meeting with him because he needs to know that this isn’t working.
I have received countless emails in the past week complaining GLAAD and the hypocrisy.
If GLAAD ever expects to repair its relationship with Black gays they are going to have to do more than hire a few Blacks. With an operating budget over $8 million, there’s no excuse.
They can start by acknowledging their past mistakes and by making it clear that they do not support acts like Shirley Q. Liquor. And only after that’s done can we talk about a future relationship of us working together.
How to Reach GLAAD:
Senior Director of Communications