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ABC Explores Homophobia in a Sports Bar in What Would You Do?


NOTE: This is an updated version of yesterday's post, with the full segment, AFTER THE JUMP...

Last night, ABC 20/20's occasional news special What Would You Do?, which places actors in real-life situations in a kind of 'Candid Camera' scenario to gauge how people will react, tackled homophobia at a sports bar. The show hired an actor to play a homophobic patron, and hired a real-life couple, Dusty St. Amand and Dominic Benevento, to play his target. The bar is in Linden, New Jersey.

The show has covered gay subject matter before. You may remember the episode in which a woman in Alabama called 911 after seeing two men kissing on a bench in a public park.

Btw, shame on John Quinones for using the term "gay lifestyle" — ABC News should know better.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. I didn't get annoyed until the end when that bitch made it known that she was disgusted. Who cares?

    Posted by: Sam | Mar 24, 2009 7:31:59 PM

  2. If you watch the last few seconds closely, it looks like she's "disgusted" at the bigot, not the gays. She clearly caught looking at the bigot for a second of the clip.

    Posted by: brian | Mar 24, 2009 7:39:04 PM

  3. Why did they need to hire an actor to play a bigot? Were all the real ones at a meeting or something?

    Posted by: crispy | Mar 24, 2009 8:01:19 PM

  4. Would be interesting to see the whole thing, though I'm sure very uncomfortable at times.

    Got to love the guys who stood up for them in the lunchtime setting. Especially the one who said 'I think you're beautiful'. That was nice :)

    Posted by: Gregus | Mar 24, 2009 8:12:29 PM

  5. Yeah, the woman at the end is addressing the actor playing the bigot. The gay couple is on the other side of the bar. (Look at the wide shot right before she leaves.)

    Posted by: Aman Chaudhary | Mar 24, 2009 8:19:50 PM

  6. Kids on here aren't very observant. She's disgusted at the bigot, clearly. She chose her words, "Nobody else in here is making me uncomfortable besides you" very carefully. Now, if I end up being wrong, I'll bite my tongue.

    I'll be intrigued to see this segment. I truly do believe the tides are beginning to shift with regard to how the public treats us--based specifically on the small towns and cities I'm from and have spent time in during the past four years in the midwest.

    Sportbars are my favorite venue--I go with my gay friends all the time. We don't change our behavior much, granted I haven't been there for an anniversary or been wasted and all over a boyfriend at one--but I've found the crowds to be, for the most part, fairly apathetic and if anything, curiously intrigued.

    Who knows.

    Posted by: Derek in Madison | Mar 24, 2009 8:21:48 PM

  7. Where are the bevvy of queens ignoring the issue and commenting on how hot the two guys are?

    Posted by: Jason | Mar 24, 2009 8:23:14 PM

  8. I know, the gay basher cathalyst is completely unnecessary. Also, I hate this world.

    Posted by: Daniel | Mar 24, 2009 8:23:58 PM

  9. Damn, my mistake. I didn't notice she was talking to the bigot. I also thought the idea of hiring a loudmouth-bigot actor would just invite peer pressure into the situation, but it was nice and reassuring to see him be put down.

    Posted by: Sam | Mar 24, 2009 8:26:45 PM

  10. Well, it's in New Jersey so I can't imagine homophobia is any way prominent in such a blue state. Likewise, the setting makes me doubt woman at the end of the clip was getting angry at the couple.

    I'm really looking forward to this, actually.

    Posted by: CitizenGeek | Mar 24, 2009 8:29:37 PM

  11. Maybe the "gay bashing" is being created? If left to themselves with out any actor as bait, would the other patrons really DO anything? I suspect not. They might SAY something, but I say things all the time about other people. Like, "look at those SHOES girlfriend!" or "WHERE did you get that lip gloss? It's to DIE for!" Okay okay just kidding, I never use lip gloss anymore....

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Mar 24, 2009 8:39:34 PM

  12. Leave it to 20/20 to put a "gay basher" in there to stir the pot. Was that really necessary? Do they think people really need help with their hatred? If the point was to prove that straight people are inherently homophobic, then this was a horribly misguided and underhanded way of proving it.

    Posted by: Michael | Mar 24, 2009 8:58:55 PM

  13. I live in Indiana. I'd love to be able to hold a guy's hand anywhere I want but I've come to realize it won't happen in my lifetime. The set up is a little unrealistic b/c i don't know any guys who would be comfortable enough to do that in a bar like that. It's literally dangerous.

    Posted by: KFLO | Mar 24, 2009 9:13:21 PM

  14. Yeah, 20/20 is bigot central when it comes to lgbt issues (viz., the matthew shepard report with that vargas chick). It's a sideshow. For a brief second, I thought it was beau breedlove.

    Now, for a real test, they should replace that couple with two average looking to ugly fat old mos.

    Posted by: TANK | Mar 24, 2009 9:20:51 PM

  15. Just watched the entire part on 20/20. AWESOME! They found so many supportive people and some people who just didn't care. Lets hope that this spreads and people see how stupid ignorance looks. I can say that in a relatively smaller town, me and my bf can go to the local restaurants/bars and there is no problem. Granted, we don't make out (I never did that when I dated a girl either) but its clear that we are together.

    Posted by: BC | Mar 24, 2009 10:57:31 PM

  16. So I just finished watching the ABC segment and while feeling good about most of it, I was frustrated with Quinones' question about "the gay lifestyle". I hate that - just feeds into all the nonsense about choosing a lifestyle...

    Posted by: kplg | Mar 24, 2009 10:57:44 PM

  17. They instructed the couple to act way more flamboyant and attention getting than they were in the pre-bar interview. Not sure that does favors for anyone. I dated someone for 15 years and it never occurred to me to feed him, no matter where we were. And does anyone honestly take a white rose and bump it against their partner's nose? In public? PDAs, straight or gay, just remind me of junior high school. And this just reminds me of stereotypes.

    That said, how many flamboyant gay couples celebrate their anniversaries or other special occasions at the bar of a sports bar? Wouldn't you at least get a table?

    Finally, as someone else noted, this is New Jersey. Nearly every state resident has been to New York City at some point in their lives. Gay couples aren't exactly a rare species to them. I'm glad that people seemed to respond positively, but it's so contrived that I don't see the point.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 24, 2009 11:04:52 PM

  18. Sweet Jesus. The point of the setup was to see if people would step in to defend a gay couple if faced with a homophobe. The homophobe wasn't there to "stir the pot:" the homophobe was the entire point of the "test"

    Posted by: Steve | Mar 24, 2009 11:12:17 PM

  19. As a tv producer, I found it interesting that ABC did not promote this story at the top of the episode and they buried the segment at the end of the episode.

    Posted by: dave | Mar 24, 2009 11:29:51 PM

  20. you know what? in my many trips to mexico, i see guys in cantinas crying on each others' shoulders about how a woman let them down. seeing two men holding hands or hugging or being affectionate makes no never mind to them. it is all like rain washing off a duck's back, whether the duck looks like a gay duck or quacks like a gay duck....

    there is something perverse about americanism that lets people think that they can get up in every body's bidness. i may make a point more relevant to the topic, but not right now.

    Posted by: nic | Mar 24, 2009 11:57:47 PM

  21. Just finished watching on Tivo. I also thought it was odd that ABC didn't promote the story at the beginning of the episode, then stuck it at the end. Sounds like they might be dealing with some internal homophobia at the network. Perhaps they should film themselves secretly?

    I was quite impressed how the majority of the patrons defended the gay couple. I also understand why they used an actor to play a bigot. If they didn't do that, most people wouldn't have the nerve to speak up even if they were extremely disturbed by what they saw. As manipulative as it was, I do think it was necessary.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Mar 25, 2009 12:14:27 AM

  22. First, ABC didn't even preview this segment at the beginning of the show. Every other segment had a preview clip except the gay one.

    Second, I am happy most kept to themselves or were supportive. That is great.

    Third, almost all gay bashings are at the hands of HETEROSEXUALS (usually males) under the age of thirty. The crowd in this bar was older than thirty. The most vocal anti-gay bigot was around thirty years old.

    Fourth, anti-gay bigotry is often subtle. They might not have acted like bigots but behind a curtain they might just take away your rights.

    Fifth, I really liked the gay couple and that girl that got all emotional at the anti-gay bigotry. There are good heterosexuals out there.

    Posted by: Bill | Mar 25, 2009 2:21:58 AM

  23. The angry lady recognized in the bigot not only his hatred of gay people, but his distain for females as equals, as well,in his contempt for feelings and expressions strictly defined in his mind as girly, and therefore beneath him and his self-perceived place at the top of the societal Type A hetero-male pecking order. Or in other words, why are men like that so fat and dumb?

    Posted by: Andrew in DC | Mar 25, 2009 4:07:26 AM

  24. Wow, Bill, this is the first time I've seen you not use HATEROSEXUALS, write out the actual term lower-case, and admit that not all of them are evil. I guess this is real progress!

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 25, 2009 4:31:17 AM

  25. I saw the segment as well and I tend to agree with most of the comments on here. I've been to many sports bars with my husband (yes, I am a gay man) and while we have shared a kiss and are not afraid to do so in public, I for one (and this is my opinion) feel like people whether gay or straight need to use common sense and realize that there is a time and a place for everything. And who really cares whether ABC aired the segment 1st or last? With a preview clip or not? The fact that they actually showed it at all is progress enough for me. Baby steps people. Baby steps.

    Posted by: Rick | Mar 25, 2009 5:34:25 AM

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