News - April 1996

GLAAD applauds ABC soap for tackling important gay issues

LOS ANGELES, CA -- The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) praises the producers of All My Children for their fair and accurate representation of a gay teacher and for addressing important social issues, such as discrimination and anti-gay violence.

In November, Michael Delaney (Chris Bruno) came out to his friends, and in December, to his students while teaching about World War II and the Holocaust. In discussing various groups that were targeted for persecution by the Nazis, he included homosexuals. To bolster the strength of his message, he identified himself as gay.

The storyline mirrors real life coming out stories of teachers across the country who face the adversity of a homophobic society. Last year, Rodney Wilson from Missouri came out to his history class while teaching about the Holocaust. More recently, Clayton Vetter of Utah also came out amidst a controversy surrounding the school board's decision to ban all school clubs to prevent gay clubs from forming. Says Vetter, "I teach. That is what I do. I try to instill in my students the belief that one person can make a difference, that to have integrity, you must stand up for what you believe in, and that above all, you must believe in yourself and be true to yourself."

Like Wilson and Vetter, the fictional Delaney's coming out drew various responses from the people of Pine Valley, the town around which All My Children is centered. Homophobic parents and school board members eventually applied enough pressure to get him fired. Delaney is involved in a lawsuit against the school board for wrongful discrimination, and finds himself on a talk show to tell his story. When Kevin Sheffield (Ben Jorgensen), one of Delaney's students, comes out to Jason, his homophobic brother, anti-gay violence erupts.

"The old adage that art imitates life is true. It is great to see a very popular and accessible show like All My Children tackle such important social issues of discrimination and anti-gay violence," says Tamra King, GLAAD's Entertainment Media Director, "Hatred and bigotry are very much a reality to our community. All My Children has presented them fairly and accurately," she says.

"Violence against lesbians and gay men is at epidemic proportion in the United States. The Department of Justice cites gay men and lesbians as the most frequent victims of bias motivated violence. This storyline will show the tragedies of anti-gay violence and lessen fear and misunderstanding of our community," King continues.

All My Children received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Daytime Television this year. GLAAD is a national organization that promotes fair, accurate and inclusive representation of individuals and events as a means of challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.

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