GLAAD Begins Monitoring Media Coverage of Gays and Lesbians Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, promotes accurate and fair media coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, and ensures that representations are not defamatory or biased. The organization has had a significant impact on how media report LGBT-related news and other stories and how the entertainment industry depicts LGBT persons on television and radio, and in film, music videos, computer games, online communities, and even comics.

Summary of Event

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, whose motto is “Fair, Accurate and Inclusive Representation,” was founded in late 1985 during a meeting in a New York City apartment. The founders, Vito Russo, Joan Nestle, Jewelle Gomez, and other activists organized to protest defamatory coverage of the HIV-AIDS pandemic in the New York Post. [kw]GLAAD Begins Monitoring Media Coverage of Gays and Lesbians (1985) [kw]Media Coverage of Gays and Lesbians, GLAAD Begins Monitoring (1985) [kw]Gays and Lesbians, GLAAD Begins Monitoring Media Coverage of (1985) [kw]Lesbians, GLAAD Begins Monitoring Media Coverage of Gays and (1985) GLAAD Media;monitoring of Entertainment industry, monitoring of [c]Organizations and institutions; [c]Publications; Russo, Vito Nestle, Joan Gomez, Jewelle

The grassroots organization grew into a national advocacy group but its focus moved from news to entertainment media. Joan Garry, who had worked in the entertainment industry, was GLAAD’s president from 1997 to 2005, and, as of 2006, the organization’s president is Neil G. Giuliano.

GLAAD has offices in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities, and it serves regional and local interests. In addition to being a media watchdog, GLAAD works to destigmatize same-gender sexuality, to temper heterosexism, and to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among the many programs offered by GLAAD is AM/FM Activism, launched in 2001, which provides an online kit for developing antidefamation campaigns in local communities. Because GLAAD cannot launch these campaigns in every local community, the kit provides local organizers with the tools and other resources to counter defamation, especially on local radio. A community network can be created with other activists in the area. This program was initiated after a successful alliance between GLAAD and local community activists in the campaign against Laura Schlessinger. Schlessinger, Laura The goal in this campaign had been to protest Schlessinger’s antigay rhetoric on her TV show, Dr. Laura. GLAAD provided resources, contacts, and tips. Major strategies included letter writing campaigns and mediation with local managers of TV stations. In March of 2001, the show was canceled.


GLAAD was founded during a time when lesbians and gays faced defamation and ridicule in the media. Newspapers printed heterosexist stories on its front pages, and the entertainment industry produced blatantly stereotypical images of lesbians and gays on television. Since the time of GLAAD’s inception in 1985, negative and imbalanced portrayals of LGBT communities have decreased and LGBT visibility has increased. Lesbian and gay stories and issues are now covered in national and local news publications, in film, on television, and in nearly every other type of media.

GLAAD staff and volunteers have not only led the way in changing how lesbians and gays are portrayed on the screen and in the news but also have been a major resource for entertainment and news media decision makers wishing to change their approach to covering LGBT persons. Entertainment Weekly named GLAAD one of “Hollywood’s 100 most powerful entities,” and the Los Angeles Times said that GLAAD is “possibly the most successful organization lobbying the media for inclusion.” In addition to its media advocacy, GLAAD holds an annual media awards event to recognize those who have played significant roles in advancing the image of LGBT people in the news media and in entertainment. GLAAD Media;monitoring of Entertainment industry, monitoring of

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple"> Bell, David, and Gil Valentine. Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexuality. New York: Routledge, 1995.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Cruickshank, Margaret. The Gay and Lesbian Liberation Movement. New York: Routledge, 1992.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. GLAAD Media Reference Guide. 7th ed. New York: Author, 2006.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple"> Gross, Larry. Up from Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Longmire, L., and L. Merrill. Under the Tongue: Gender, Power, and the Word. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Padilla, Y. C. Gay and Lesbian Rights Organizing: Community-Based Strategies. Binghamton, N.Y.: Haworth, 2004.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple"> Singer, D., and J. L. Singer. Handbook of Children and the Media. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 2001.

1930’s-1960’s: Hollywood Bans “Sexual Perversion” in Films

March 7, 1967: CBS Airs CBS Reports: The Homosexuals

October 31, 1969: TIME Magazine Issues “The Homosexual in America”

July 3, 1978: U.S. Supreme Court Distinguishes Between “Indecent” and “Obscene”

1979-1981: First Gay British Television Series Airs

June 5 and July 3, 1981: Reports of Rare Diseases Mark Beginning of AIDS Epidemic

1985: Lesbian Film Desert Hearts Is Released

July 25, 1985: Actor Hudson Announces He Has AIDS

1992-2002: Celebrity Lesbians Come Out

March 21, 2000: Hollywood Awards Transgender Portrayals in Film

September 7, 2001: First Gay and Lesbian Television Network Is Launched in Canada

March 5, 2006: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, and Transamerica Receive Oscars

Categories: History