It is becoming very clear who is pulling the political strings in Hollywood these days.
Progressive activists have been on a warpath since the state of Florida passed the Parental Rights in Education bill banning the teaching of sexuality and transgenderism to children between kindergarten through third grade. As a result, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has been very vocal in the last few weeks about what it wants out of Hollywood; representation and control.
The woman who has been leading the charge behind the scenes is GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. Last Saturday night at the 2022 GLAAD Media Awards, an award show dedicated to praising LGBTQ representation within Hollywood, Ellis spoke at the ceremony and sent out a warning shot to the entire entertainment industry, the time for sitting on the fence is over.
According to Variety, the woman in charge of the biggest LGBT Hollywood watchdog group told a room full of her peers at the event, “Don’t wait until you’re in the hot seat,” when it comes to fighting for LGBT rights.
“There’s no more time to sit on the sidelines. We need Hollywood on the front lines, fighting for our rights and telling our stories,” Ellis said.
She would then take her statement a step forward by calling on the industry to take more action, which includes activism against state backed legislation as well as turning up LGBTQ content in children’s programming.
“Hollywood must take meaningful action and will soon convene the biggest brands, agencies, studios, and streamers together with two goals: one, to commit to improving the quantity, quality, and diversity of LGBTQ images, especially in kids and family programming. And, two, to speak out against anti-LGBTQ legislation in favor of rights like the Equality Act,” she stated.
Ellis would also state, “In just one day, on March 8, the Florida Senate passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which was signed into law this past week. The South Dakota Senate passed a bill that bans discussion of ‘divisive concepts’ like race and sex in college courses.”
“The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill that would send librarians to jail if they let minors check out books that include LGBTQ topics. And the New Jersey Supreme Court denied an appeal that would bar a religious organization from offering so-called ‘conversion therapy,” she continued.
“This all happened not in one month, not in one week, but all in one day,” said Ellis.
She closed out her speech stating, “I expect every industry executive in this room to join us. GLAAD will give you the playbook. But we wont give you a pass.
For many in the LGBTQ lobby, the battle over the Parental Rights in Education bill in Florida that saw Disney completely change its original position to eventually fully oppose the bill was a jumping off point for more demand of LGBTQ+ content and lobbying in Hollywood.
In a major revelation last week, Disney executive producer Latoya Raveneau and President of Disney General Entertainment Content Karey Burke were among the many who admitted to having a not-so-secret agenda to push gay and queer content in programs targeted to children.
Ravenau stated at a Disney employee meeting, “In my little pocket of Proud Family Disney TVA, the showrunners were super welcoming . Meredith Roberts and our leadership over there has been so welcoming to my not-at-all-secret gay agenda.”
She added, “Maybe it was that way in the past, but I guess something must have happened in the last– they are turning it around, they’re going hard, and then like all that momentum that I felt, that sense of ‘I don’t have to be afraid to have these two characters kiss in the background.’ I was just, wherever I could, just basically adding queerness. If you see anything queer in the show — no one would stop me, and no one was trying to stop me.”
SCOOP: I’ve obtained video from inside Disney’s all-hands meeting about the Florida parental rights bill, in which executive producer Latoya Raveneau says her team has implemented a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” and is regularly “adding queerness” to children’s programming. pic.twitter.com/eJnZMpKIXT
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 29, 2022
Disney is one of the many major studios that Ellis has lobbied to directly boost LGBTQ voices in their programming. But for Ellis, her crusade goes much further than that.
Ellis, who is a lesbian herself, was named President and CEO of GLAAD back in 2014, since then she has been the organization’s driving force in lobbying television and film studios to increase the number of LGBTQ characters on screen in all forms of media.
In 2018, Ellis called on studios to include LGBTQ characters in 20 percent of their releases by 2021 and 50 percent of their films by 2024.
As a result of this, television shows, movies, comics, and more have seen a massive increase of nearly 5% of LGBT characters in the last three years. Last year in GLAAD’s yearly “Where We Are on TV” report, the organization praised a record 12% of all TV characters on broadcast television, cable, and streaming being members of the LGBTQ community.
In fact, due to this lobbying effort Disney vows on their Reimagine Tomorrow website “by 2022, 50% of regular and recurring characters across Disney General Entertainment scripted content will come from underrepresented groups.”
While LGBT characters in media are on the rise, Hollywood watchdogs like GLAAD are nowhere near satisfied with their efforts.
Last month, GLAAD announced in a press release that they will be unveiling a new rating system that will grade major studios on their LGBT advocacy based on political donations to left-wing candidates and censorship of LGBT scenes in international markets.
The updated rating system will grade based on the following:
- Donations to anti-LGBTQ elected officials, candidates for office, and anti-LGBTQ Political Action Committees from a film studio and parent company.
- Public advocacy efforts from a film studio or parent company around pro-LGBTQ or anti-LGBTQ legislation.
- LGBTQ-inclusive ads or other public communications, especially outside of Pride month.
- Actions taken to support a studio’s LGBTQ-inclusive titles internationally. Recent examples include: in 2021, Marvel’s film ‘Eternals’ was pulled from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait after Disney reportedly refused to cut a same-sex kiss and in 2019, Paramount spoke out against censorship of LGBTQ content in ‘Rocketman’ in Russia.
Ellis supported the new measure stating, “Corporations need to be held accountable for their silence on anti-LGBTQ bills in states where they do business. That’s why we’re updating our Studio Responsibility Index to hold Hollywood accountable.”
The GLAAD organization has become a very powerful lobby for LGBTQ activists in the world of media. As the progressive industry continues to work with organizations like GLAAD to satisfy their needs, you can expect their power to continue to grow over the years.
What are you thoughts on the Ellis’s comments about Hollywood fighting the war for the LGBT?