Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Disney company is relatively gay-friendly. They have to be, considering they're in the entertainment field. If Disney only hired straight people, their parade floats would be made of stucco and astroturf. Fantasia would look like an animated Riverdance.

When they bought ABC, though, Disney ran into a problem. They now owned Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a show that sends folks on vacation and builds them mansions while they're gone. Every week the show gives away half a million dollars in cash and prizes to select families.

That just happen to be heterosexual.

I watched the show off and on for a couple years, patiently waiting for a male or female couple to appear. Finally I wrote in and asked where all the gay families were. A spokesperson at ABC replied with a ridiculous email claiming they'd be happy to have a gay family on the program: they just hadn't found a good one yet. They said if I knew a deserving one I should encourage them to apply.

I immediately recognized this as bullshit. The program was startlingly efficient at finding needles in the Pitiful Haystack. They found a biker preacher with a disabled grandson, a single mother/Christian minister whose house burned down, an African-American ballet dancer with multiple sclerosis. They found Benjamin Burns, whose bone disease affects one out of every 10,000 people. They found Will Johnson, whose spinal muscular atrophy affects one out of every 20,000 people. They found Jhryve Sears, whose Krabbe disease afflicts one out of every 100,000.

They found a pair of home-schooling horse whisperers and a one-armed lobster fisherman. They found ten-year-old Kayla Woodhouse, one of the twenty-five people in the WORLD who suffer from Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy.

But they couldn't find a deserving gay family.

A few months later, the other shoe dropped. The Smoking Gun obtained an e.mail message sent by EM:HE "family casting director" Charisse Simonian that details her unspoken requirements. In fact, Charisse had a wish list that made it crystal clear exactly who she was looking for:

-- Extraordinary Mom / Dad Recently diagnosed with ALS --
-- Family who has child w/ PROGERIA (aka "little man disease")
-- Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis," referred to as CIPA by the few people who know about it. (There are 17 known cases in the US -- let me know if one is in your town!) This is where kids cannot feel any physical pain.
-- Muscular Dystrophy Child -- Amazing kid who is changing people's views about MD

Clearly Charisse wasn't just sitting around waiting for pitiful people to write in. No, she was actively searching for them. She was canvassing neighborhoods, contacting churches and Chambers of Commerce for them. In her list, though, the word "gay" doesn't appear.

And after seven years and 118 episodes, there still hasn't been a gay family on the show.

I emailed ABC again a couple months ago. Now all they'll say is they get too much email to respond to everyone. As of two weeks ago, Disney/ABC is airing another "family" program. Opportunity Knocks awards families a quarter of a million bucks if they correctly answer trivia questions about each other.

In the first episode, a heterosexual family played. In the second episode, a heterosexual family played.

It doesn't take Einstein to see the pattern here.

The time has come for Disney to step up to the plate and give a gay family a shot. A gay couple should have a chance for their spectacular new house to be foreclosed. A gay mom should get to win a McMansion and then throw all her kids out. A gay dad should get to allegedly strip his fabulous new house bare and sell everything to buy drugs.

Until ABC and Disney decide we get equal rights, we are tuning out.

Click here to ask ABC and Disney when we'll see a gay family on either of these shows.

1 comment:

Yet Another Steve said...

I just got back from two weeks in the 'netless wilderness, and of course dived immediately into catching up on your blog. Dude, you are COOKIN' of late! Well, you probably heard my mad applause and yelps of glee from there, but, well, wow.

Various stern I-view-with-alarms have already been sent. More to come. The barstids.