Friday, December 14, 2012

Time for GLAAD to Update its Standards

With the imminent Supreme Court decisions on marriage, there's a revival of discussions of marriage equality in the press. In headline after headline, I keep seeing "gay marriage."

FFS! My marriage is not a gay marriage. It is just a marriage.

The articles don't always stick to the term "gay marriage," so why is it in the headlines? Why is it permissible at all for the press to use that term? Why does the press often refer only to "gay and lesbian couples," etc., which erases marriages like mine?

It's because of GLAAD's Media and Style Guide. GLAAD told them it was okay to use that language.

GLAAD is the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. They are the standard the press looks to when dealing with "gay and lesbian" issues. GLAAD also purports to represent people besides gay and lesbians, but they have been doing a terrible job of it for years.

Here is why:

In GLAAD's Media Style Guide, GLAAD tells the press it is okay to say "gay marriage" for purposes of length. GLAAD also refers to families like mine as "gay and lesbian" even though we are definitely not.

I got a civil union in VT in 2006. The person I married is transgender and IDs as male, and I am on the trans* spectrum. Neither of us IDs as gay. He is queer and I am bisexual/queer. We are no longer together and until very recently we could not divorce because Ohio is a constitutionally bigoted state. If we'd gotten married after he changed his legal marker from F to M, we wouldn't have had to go to Vermont to get a union. We could have married in Ohio. And our marriage never would have been called "gay" at any point.

The thing about this shitty media guide is that bi and trans and queer and other people have been complaining about it to GLAAD for years and GLAAD just doesn't seem to give a fuck. So I'm not holding back with the cuss words, because erasure is erasure whether it's a gay person erasing people like me or a straight person erasing people like me. Get your fucking shit together. This is not the "gay and lesbian and everyone else" club. Queers like me have a right not to be defamed or erased too. The disparities between gay and lesbian people and everyone else in QUILTBAG continue to exist in part because gay advocacy groups like GLAAD are propping up systemic discrimination.

This blog post discussing this same exact issue is from 2008. I know the people at GLAAD saw the criticism because more than one person told me they e-mailed those image macros to GLAAD. When GLAAD updated their media style guide in 2010, they saw fit to ignore this and other feedback they've received from bisexual, transgender, and queer advocates about what is wrong with what they are doing.

So fix that shit already, GLAAD!