Homosexual Reporters Call For More Same-Sex Affection on TV

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

Atlanta (CNSNews.com) - A panel of homosexual journalists and media officials said Saturday that now is the time for increased portrayals of same-sex physical affection on television shows.

The panel discussion entitled "Beyond Ellen," a reference to the now-cancelled television program about a lesbian comic, discussed the impact of same-sex kissing scenes on prime time television and the future of televised portrayals of homosexual affection.

The panel discussion on portrayals of homosexuals in entertainment television was part of a four-day National Lesbian-Gay Journalists Association convention in Atlanta. An estimated 600 reporters and other media officials attended the convention, at which major television and print news organizations recruited journalists and other staff.

News organizations with booths at the convention included NBC News, USA Today, CNN, Knight-Ridder, the New York Times, the Washington Post and taxpayer-subsidized National Public Radio, among others.

The consensus of the panel discussion on more depictions of homosexual affection on TV was illustrated by USA Today television critic Robert Bianco, who said sexual traditionalists and people of faith who oppose homosexuality for religious reasons were "upset because they realize the war is already won," regarding homosexual characters on television. "There are still battles to be fought and it's not over, but we have won."

Others cited the ratings of the NBC television program "Will and Grace" as further evidence that homosexuality is gaining broader acceptance among Americans.

Back-to-back reruns of the program received 6.3 and 7.0 ratings during the week of September 6-12, according to data published in the September 20 issue of Broadcasting and Cable magazine. A ratings point is equal to slightly less than one million American homes.

"Ratings equal power," said Scott Seomin of the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

But many advocates at the homosexual journalists conference also pointed to what they called the need for more portrayals of homosexual couples in general news stories and TV news reporting, drawing qualified support from CNN President Richard Kaplan.

"It's a wonderful point, you're right," said Kaplan. "We'll look to make a change to that." Kaplan also warned against having homosexual news reporters covering homosexual issues.

"When you start to... have your gay reporter cover your gay story or whatever, I think that's a big mistake," said Kaplan, adding that doing so might "play into Jerry Falwell's hands."

Falwell is a Virginia-based evangelist who opposes homosexuality. He came under fire in some quarters for remarks earlier this year drawing a comparison between homosexuality and one of the characters on the PBS children's program "Teletubbies," a comparison that had already been drawn in a number of homosexual media outlets.

Jim Hanes is administrative director of Americans for Truth.