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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Where Are the Friendly Voices?


Ross Murray, Director of Religion, Faith, and Values at GLAAD, writes in Huffpo:
As someone who identifies as gay and Christian, I see parts of myself reflected in the world around me. When I turn on the television, I get caught up in the drama of gay and lesbian students on Glee. I can laugh with a gay couple raising a child and trying to relate to the rest of their relatives on Modern Family. I can cheer on a Chaz Bono, the first transgender man to "dance with the stars."

When I sat in Easter worship this last Sunday, I was surrounded by many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as well as supportive and affirming straight people. I heard an Easter sermon that acknowledged my existence and affirmed my faith in the Easter message.

However, I still long for the day that those two realities, my representation in the media and the affirmation from my faith, would become one reality. My desire to hear an affirming message of faith being broadcast over television or printed in a newspaper grows stronger as I see both increasing representation in the media and growing affirmation in religious communities. And I am not alone. Thousands of us want to see the LGBT-affirming voices of faith lifted up in the mainstream media. But so far, the media has done little to reflect the new religious reality in America. . . .

According to a recent survey by the Knight Program in Media and Religion at USC and the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, journalists, producers and bookers are far from experts when it comes to religion, which makes them return to the same voices that they have used for so long. They tune to "Christian" television to find what the "Christian" viewpoint is on LGBT people. Anti-LGBT groups use their PR operations and sell spokespeople as representative of the religious voice - when in reality they speak for a very narrow viewpoint that is becoming progressively narrower within religious circles. Add in the fact that the media suffers from a conflict addiction and tends to put stories about gay and transgender people in terms of controversy, and we have a recipe for only extreme religious voices being given platforms in the media to reach millions of Americans. . . .

The media needs to stop promoting the false notion that being religious is synonymous with being anti-LGBT. By contrasting anti-LGBT religious voices against pro-LGBT voices with no identified religion, the media has reinforced a misleading and dangerous 'religion versus gay' frame. This frame is misleading because it gives media consumers the false impression that to be religious, particularly Christian, is to be inherently anti-LGBT. Experiences like the one I had in Easter worship are not reflected in the media. The frame ignores religious people who increasingly support equality and discounts the thousands upon thousands of LGBT people like me whose faith plays a central role in our lives.

5 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

What can I say? I understand why LGTB folks avoid churches.

The media want to publish what sells. Stories about churches that are accepting of gay Christians do not earn money for the media. That's the way it is, and I don't have any ideas about how to change this situation.

Russ Manley said...

You hit the nail on the head, I think, and I don't know how to change it either, except to be a small voice crying in the wilderness.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Yes, me too. A small voice in the wilderness.

Davis said...

Keep speaking out Mimi and you too Head Trucker - all of us have an obligation to do so.

Grandmère Mimi said...

As long as I can, I will, Davis.

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