It’s no secret how I feel about the GLAAD. So to Patrik I say thank you and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
by Patrik-Ian Polk
Logo, home of my series NOAH’S ARC, is airing the 17th Annual GLAAD Media Awards this week. I have many opinions on the ridiculously wealthy organization GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation- but it boils down to the fact that they’re a shamelessly white organization who, to borrow from Kanye’s brilliantly simplistic critique of George W. Bush, "don’t care about black people." Add to that the fact that GLAAD has by its definition of its mission become a largely obsolete organization- in 2006 do we really need an org to recognize straight people’s gay-friendly achievements or issue bland press releases criticizing everytime some celebrity makes an offhanded homophobic comment?
One thing GLAAD has done rather well is give out annual awards for gay & lesbian representation in the media. For 17 years they have recognized shows like WILL AND GRACE, SIX FEET UNDER, and scores of other gay-themed programming, even before mainstream awards shows decided it was hip to do so. But they did not recognize NOAH’S ARC this year. Now, I was not sour because NOAH’S ARC was not recognized- that’s a subjective decision I put no stock in. I’m salty in general about GLAAD and their horrible record when it comes to people of color. They have a token position in their executive ranks, something like "People of Color Media Manager", but it is largely ceremonial and not terribly effective. I’m even more salty now because this year they chose not to recognize any shows from the three new gay networks (Logo, Here, Q). They did include the cast of NOAH in the awards ceremony, but I’m certain that was at the insistence of Logo (which is airing the show). And even then, the inclusion of the NOAH crew felt very much like a last-minute after-thought, right down to their seating at the back of the bus (their table was so far at the back of the auditorium, they could barely make out the presenters onstage).
A similar thing happened to me that cemented my distaste for this organization. GLAAD held a big party and press conference at this year’s Sundance Film festival in January to announce this year’s nominations. There was some controversy over the lack of nominations for the gay networks and as usual the lack of color. So months later, I received an email from GLAAD saying they had decided to give me an award- recognizing me for my work. The award has a name, one they’ve given for quite a few years to people like B.D. Wong and others (it’s named after some woman). Now, GLAAD has ceremonies in NY, LA and San Francisco over the course of 2 or 3 months. They informed me that my award was being presented in San Francisco at a time when I’d be knee deep in season 2 production duties in Vancouver Canada. So I responded telling them that I was unavailable at that time, and asking that they give me the award in Los Angeles at the April show- this made sense to me. My work is set in L.A. I live in L.A. And here’s the statement about the awards ceremonies from the GLAAD website:
"GLAAD is committed to keeping our award shows to a two-hour running time. Even with four award shows, (NY, LA, Miami, and SF), there is not enough time to present all of the awards to winners onstage. When deciding which awards to present onstage, we select categories which reflect the range of the GLAAD’s work with the media. The decision is also influenced by production considerations, as well as the accessibility of the winners to each city."
Accessibility of the winners to each city. Bullcrap. I was told that they could not present the award in Los Angeles and given some weak assurance that they hoped to recognize my work in the future. I can’t say I expected much from GLAAD in the first place, but I didn’t appreciate being included as an after-thought (especially in light of the whole not-recognizing-gay-networks shit). This award was not included in their initial nomination announcement in January at Sundance, so I’m pretty certain it was a last-minute scramble to save face and appear to actually give a rat’s ass about black gay folks. But it was too little too late. I was happy to walk away from the situation and told GLAAD so (I believe my exact words to them were "If you do plan on recognizing my work in the future, hopefully you will do so in a more timely fashion and not as an after-thought, as this clearly was."
I’m glad the NOAH crew did the awards show. I have no doubt that the inclusion was at the insistence of Logo (who is airing the ceremony), but it is good publicity for us nonetheless. And I won’t hold my breath that GLAAD will ever get its act together- they haven’t in 17 years. But I decided a long time ago not to waste time worrying about what ridiculous and ridiculously wealthy organizations like GLAAD do and don’t do. Instead, I channel my frustrations into my art. The desire to feel represented, the need to see myself onscreen, to tell our stories. That’s why I do what I do.
But I will say once more and hopefully for the last time- fuck GLAAD! Fuck GLAAD and the white horse they rode in on!