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News - February 1996

GLAAD condemns censorship of "Friends" episode

NEW YORK -- January 18, 1996 -- Two television stations (KJAC in Port Arthur, Texas and WLIO in Lima, Ohio) have refused to air an episode of "Friends" in its regular timeslot due to the content of a lesbian wedding scene and are supporting censorship standards rather than community standards, according to William Waybourn, managing director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

"The content of this episode of 'Friends' has been widely discussed for weeks and celebrates the commitment ceremony of two characters who happen to be both women. For these stations to pull the plug at the last minute is censorship, pure and simple. By not airing the program in its timeslot, they are sending a chilling message to America that there's something wrong with lesbian and gay couples publicly stating their commitments to one another," Waybourn said.

Ron Kelly, station manager of the NBC affiliate in Port Arthur, Texas, KJAC, said, "We do not believe the episode of 'Friends' meets the prevailing standards of good taste in our community." Kelly said his station objected to the way the content was handled.

Despite a last minute plea from GLAAD not to give in to conservative groups who are attempting to keep the show from airing, Kelly refused. Waybourn said Kelly had no idea how many lesbian and gay youth would be adversely affected by the action. "I can't help him with the ratings, but I do know the facts: lesbian and gay youth are three times more at risk for suicide attempts because of stupid tricks like this," Waybourn said.

Waybourn said GLAAD is asking its members to contact the stations and express their displeasure over the censoring of the episode. GLAAD also commends NBC and 'Friends' for their courage to display a realistic portrayal of American culture that conservative groups would like to hide.

GLAAD is a national organization that promotes fair, accurate and inclusive representation of individuals and events in all media as a means of combating homophobia and all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.


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