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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 19, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 29
MARK MY WORDS: GLAAD gets an 'F' for Stonewall 50
Section One
ALL STORIES
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MARK MY WORDS: GLAAD gets an 'F' for Stonewall 50

by Mark Segal - Philadelphia Gay News

The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots have passed, and as an integral part of the anniversary and the 50 years leading up to it, I have an inside track and knowledge as to who the players are and how they did their jobs for our community. Two organizations failed our community this year. That failure leads to misinformation of our history, and professional organizations should preserve our history, not revise it.

The worst offender? GLAAD

The organization that is supposed to monitor and provide LGBTQ information to the media, the organization that claims to be a resource to TV networks, contributed a media guide to Stonewall 50. The history it provided of our community was misleading and left out important elements of the event as well as the resources to cover them, which left larger media on their own. Of the 50 or so people who are documented as participating in the Stonewall riots and the first Gay Pride, none, to my knowledge, were contacted by GLAAD for their knowledge of history or to be utilized as a resource or even as a fact checker.

Maybe it's ageism or GLAAD's need to use celebrities rather than the rank and file of our community, but those of us who were at Stonewall, created Gay Liberation Front from the ashes of Stonewall, created the first gay youth organization, created the first LGBT Community Center and the first Gay Pride March were all ignored by GLAAD. Those, like myself, who were young and among the first to end invisibility by the media are all still alive but ignored. The people that made it possible for GLAAD's existence were neglected - a lack of professionalism in their supposed area of expertise.

Mainstream media wanted to understand how coverage had changed in 50 years. From GLAAD, they received a false timeline and a lack of resources. Media sources actually did the homework and changed GLAAD's timeline, making a mockery of the LGBT organization's so-called 'guide.'

On page one of that guide is a picture and message from GLAAD's president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, that includes only two lines regarding the history of Stonewall and states, 'This guide is intended to help journalists cover Stonewall 50 with fairness, depth and accuracy.'

GLAAD's failure is obvious with the guide's inaccuracies, historic omissions and lack of resources. GLAAD gets an 'F.'

Next on the list is an organization I didn't expect: SAGE.

SAGE, which was created to work with LGBT seniors, held a number of events centered on Stonewall's 50th anniversary. One was planned by GLF, and SAGE gave the resources to make it a success, but SAGE's other events had a notable exception: basic research was not done. This resulted in embarrassment, as people who claimed they were at Stonewall were not, nor did they have even the slightest connection. Anyone who was old enough to have been alive during the riots, regardless of whether they actually participated, was served up on a panel. Now that's ageism. Historic details that were inaccurate were put on the record.

The best example: A woman who previously stated she was at Stonewall changed her statement while on a panel and said she was there the second night with Marsha P. Johnson. She said they were being chased and were trapped in a cul-de-sac while police attacked them, and she explained their dramatic escape. A great story, but the cul-de-sac she claimed was on Gay Street, and Gay Street is not a cul-de-sac, a detail that anyone who is familiar with the area knows. Marsha never mentioned that event any time in her life, and the story trivializes her. It also allows seniors they serve to be set up for ridicule.

To SAGE and GLAAD: Our community and pioneers deserve better.

Courtesy of Mark Segal and Philadelphia Gay News.

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