ALL ABOUT GLAAD?
Not to be confused with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.
GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) is a U.S. non-governmental media monitoring organization founded by LGBT people in the media. Before March 2013, the name had been an acronym for “Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,” but became the primary name due to its inclusiveness of bisexual and transgender issues.
Formed in New York City in 1985 to protest against what it saw as the New York Post‘s defamatory and sensationalized AIDS coverage, we put pressure on media organizations to end what it saw as homophobic reporting. Initial meetings were held in the homes of several New York City activists as well as after-hours at the New York State Council on the Arts. The founding group included film scholar Vito Russo; Gregory Kolovakos, then on the staff of the NYS Arts Council and who later became the first executive director; Darryl Yates Rist; Allen Barnett; and Jewelle Gomez, the organization’s first treasurer. Some members went on to become the early members of ACT UP.
In 1987, after a meeting with GLAAD, The New York Times changed its editorial policy to use the word gay instead of harsher terms referring to homosexuality. Advocating that the Associated Press and other television and print news sources follow. Influence soon spread to Los Angeles, where organizers began working with the entertainment industry to change the way LGBT people were portrayed on screen.
Entertainment Weekly has named GLAAD as one of Hollywood’s most powerful entities, and the Los Angeles Times described GLAAD as “possibly one of the most successful organizations lobbying the media for inclusion.”
Within the first five years of its founding in New York as the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Defamation League (soon after changed to “Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation” after legal pressure by the Anti-Defamation League), other chapters have been established in Los Angeles and other cities, with the LA chapter becoming particularly influential due to its proximity to the California entertainment industry. GLAAD/NY and GLAAD/LA would eventually vote to merge in 1994, with other city chapters joining soon afterward.