GLAAD Statement on “Lesbian Gangs!!!”

Jim Burroway

July 24th, 2007

This morning, I spoke with Cerissa Cafasso, Associate Director of Public Relations and Communications at GLAAD about the “Lesbian Gangs!!!” meme that anti-gay activists have been pursuing lately. GLAAD has released the following statement to Box Turtle Bulletin, which they subsequently posted on their web site as well. Of particular interest is the assertion that recent reports claiming that GLAAD threatened to sue a Memphis television station for running a “Lesbian Gangs!!!” report are false.

GLAAD Challenges Irresponsible Reporting of “Lesbian Gangs”

This year, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has been busy challenging sensationalistic and unsubstantiated reports of so-called “lesbian gangs.”

On June 21, Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor featured a segment titled “Lesbian Gang Epidemic,” in which Fox News Crime Analyst Rod Wheeler made the factually inaccurate claims that a “national network” of “lesbian gangs” preys on young girls and that 150 such gangs exist in the Washington, D.C. area. Both the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the Southern Poverty Law Center found Wheeler’s assertions and statistics to be deeply flawed and misleading. In response, GLAAD issued a Call to Action, urging constituents to demand The O’Reilly Factor to provide background information and evidence that supported Wheeler’s statements. Following GLAAD’s efforts, Wheeler posted a retraction of the story on his website.

As a result of the overwhelming feedback from GLAAD and its constituents, The O’Reilly Factor invited GLAAD’s Senior Director of Media Programs, Rashad Robinson, to appear on its July 9th show. On the program, Robinson brought to light the sensational and inaccurate assertions in Wheeler’s report. Bill O’Reilly agreed that the report was exaggerated and promised, “We’ll do better next time.”

This was not the first time GLAAD took the media to task for irresponsibly and sensationally reporting on “lesbian gangs.” In February, GLAAD called on local ABC24 and CW30 affiliates in Memphis, TN not to air a shockingly defamatory and inaccurate report dramatizing “Gays Taking Over,” with actors portraying a group of African American women preying on other women. In the report, which GLAAD screened before its airdate, the principal interview subject, a so-called “gang expert,” stated without evidence that people victimized by “lesbian gangs” would be turned gay.

Although GLAAD’s urging prompted the station to modify its report and to disclose that it was unable to document its claims or provide evidence to back them, the segment that aired retained its sensationalistic and homophobic tone. And, unlike Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, ABC24 general manager Jack Peck refused to acknowledge the report’s irresponsible exaggerations. And recently, he even began falsely claiming that GLAAD had threatened to sue the station.

Whenever media outlets seek to boost ratings by airing sensationalized and unsubstantiated stories such as these, GLAAD will continue to demand that journalists back up their reporting with facts and statistics and that their representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community are fair, accurate and inclusive.

Emily K

July 24th, 2007

I have mixed feelings about GLAAD after they forced movie critic Gene Shallot to apologize for his review of the movie “Brokeback Mountain,” which i thought was completely appropriate and acceptable. The fact that Gene’s interpretation of the relationship presented in the movie dissented with what seemed to be the majority of movie critics sent GLAAD into a frenzy. They stepped over the line, going from defenders to offenders, and that concerns me as a queer woman. I know they are a good organization and are extremely helpful to our community, but I don’t like when things get out of hand like that.


July 25th, 2007

Gene Shalit’s review was completely out of line. The only way to see the character of Jack as a “predator” is through homophobic eyes. GLAAD was absolutely right to call him on it.

a. mcewen

July 25th, 2007

In THIS case that we are talking about, GLAAD was on the ball and went above and beyond the call of duty in catching the lies about “lesbian gangs” before they were allowed to spread unchallenged.

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