I was waiting for evidence that the networks, particularly CBS with its blurring of Adam Lambert's on-screen kiss of his male bandmate during the post-Children's Hour performance on the American Music Awards.

Brian Patrick Thornton, who refers to his own on-screen man-on-man smooch on The Today Show didn't result in blurring or censoring on the West Coast — and that was in 1999. He calls BS on the lame statement put out by CBS. (Spangle Magazine):

[W]hat really chaps my gay ass is the even bigger double standard of CBS’s actions during Lambert’s later interview on The Early Show. When questioning him about the AMA appearance, producers blurred out his kiss — and moments later, showed an unaltered version of the Madonna-Britney Spears lezzie-lite kiss from the MTV Video Music Awards.

…In 1999, my then-boyfriend and I surprised the Today show (and lil’ Al Roker) with the first boy-on-boy network make-out (that was just as sloppy as Lambert’s). Three hours later, producers chose NOT to edit the moment out — or blur it — for West Coast viewers.

And CBS’s response? The network told the Los Angeles Times: “The Madonna image is very familiar and has appeared countless times, including many times on morning television. The Adam Lambert image is a subject of great current controversy, has not been nearly as widely disseminated and, for all we know, may still lead to legal consequences.”

Bull.

Shit.

And, as executives told a reporter, NOT ONE complaint was registered about the moment. And there were no “legal consequences.” Heck, we didn’t even sue when Will and Grace stole our story.

Thornton goes on to tie this ridiculous behavior of network executives — and makes the case that this is yet another example of political homophobia (or unwillingness to take political risks for LGBTs, even though we're a core constituency.

Remember, CBS cited “legal consequences” as a result of rebroadcasting the naughty bits, but wait — there's same-sex bussing going on in primetime programming right now and there aren't any lawsuits flying…Thornton cited, for instance, that man-on-man kissing in both Brothers & Sisters and Grey's Anatomy that didn't draw censor fire.  And I just saw a Law & Order rerun with protagonists (in this case women), going at it outside a hotel room. So what is going on?

Thornton says that some of this stems from our repeated losses at the ballot box, affirming to execs and pols that our rights, our issues are too politically costly to stick up for. After all, we are only a small percentage of the overall voter base, and we have yet to win over enough allies willing to step outside of their comfort zones to be open advocates. 

He also says that the Obama administration's lukewarm efforts (certainly nothing publicly fierce) to use the bully pulpit outside LGBT venues is not going unnoticed by pols and these retreating TV execs, worried about advertisers pulling out over potential fundie backlash.

But in the end, we're on our own and should not settle for scraps.

Our own media are so small and marginalized, they can’t stir the pot as well as, say, Fox News.

That’s why we get bones such as hate-crimes bills and Pride proclamations thrown at us. Why we need to wait for the “right moment” — whenever that is — for substantial work on queer rights. Why TV — at most — presents only desexualized gay-male characters, usually in comedic roles.

You can almost hear the meetings, whether among White House administrators or TV suits: “So, what’s the minimum we can give these queers just to get them to shut up?”

Precisely. That's what it does feel like sometimes. And there definitely is a trickle-down effect on this; people notice and react accordingly when political homophobia is in play. It's never the “right moment” in those scenarios.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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