GLAAD Clarifies Remarks on Wright, DeGeneres

Michael Musto makes note of some pretty unfortunate remarks from GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios in a recent NYT article on celebrities who come out of the closet.


Well, now they've decided that in order to praise Chely Wright, the country star who got a renewed burst of fame by coming out, they need to diminish Ellen DeGeneres.

GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios told the New York Times, "When it's one of their own (coming out), I think it forces people to take it a little more seriously. In that way, Chely Wright has the promise of being far more impactful in coming out in red states where people couldn't give two hoots about Ellen DeGeneres."

Oy. Does this guy even realize how HUGE Ellen is in ALL states? She happens to have a hit daytime talk show that's watched by all KINDS of people, plus she's a judge on a tiny little phenomenon called American Idol, for God's sake!

Does he realize that she came out when she was already HUGE and when practically NO ONE was out? Does he realize how daring and major and impactful and brave that was and how she was crucified for it, but how she rode the next wave, becoming even more political and open while continuing to help transform the pop and political landscapes by pushing envelopes and addressing issues???

What Barrios said about Wright's presence and impact in the country music community is completely appropriate. But let's hope he leaves Ellen out of the equation the next time. She's got enough flak from the haters.

GLAAD sent a clarification to us this afternoon:

This quote was taken out of context and misses the point that country singer Chely Wright reached a new demographic with her announcement that she is a lesbian – an audience that needs more images of LGBT people in their lives. Ellen DeGeneres’ coming out was indeed a landmark achievement for our community and the original statement in no way diminished her work. Chely Wright’s coming out touched people who might not have been familiar with Ellen, when she came out more than a decade ago, including Chely’s country music and Christian fans.

GLAAD has been and continues to be a steadfast supporter of Ellen DeGeneres and holds her work for the LGBT community in our highest regard. In 1997, GLAAD coordinated "Come Out With Ellen" house parties in more than 1,500 households nationwide and even organized a satellite-fed telecast of her historic Coming Out episode in markets that refused to air the program. GLAAD honored Ellen with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award in 1998 at the GLAAD Media Awards in recognition of her significant contributions to equality. Her talk show has been nominated and received GLAAD Media Awards for ‘Outstanding Talk Show Episode’ category as recently as 2009.


  1. Henry Holland says

    The flaw in Barrios’ premise is that Chely Wright was a nobody in country music circles when she came out. Her one big hit was in 1999, 3 of last 4 singles didn’t even chart, she was just another struggling performer on a small label going nowhere. Howard Bragman really miscalculated on this one, Chely Wright coming out was greeted either with “Who?” or “Publicity stunt to revive a dead career”.

    What will make “red staters” take notice is a white pro athlete still playing or a big country star like Kenny Chesney coming out, not some has-been lesbian.

  2. Rob says

    Don’t these “spokespeople” get any professional media training? This kind of gaffe shouldn’t be coming from the head of GLAAD. Not good PR, Mr. Barrios.

  3. Rad says

    Bag, thy name is douche. He sounds quite bitter about Ellen; perhaps she’s too popular for him.

    Why do we keep eating our own? I laud anyone who has the courage to come out. And when that individual relies on a fickle public spotlight to for their very existence and they step out of the closet door, all the louder of a cheer should go up.

  4. planetspinz says

    GLAAD is always sending out notices about how we should demand that some heterosupremacist or tyrannical theocRAT take back their bigoted comments, maybe Ellen should demand that GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios STFU.

  5. says

    Further proof that anyone who is fortunate enough to get a platform and a microphone should IMMEDIATELY go into PR training.

    Not saying everything that comes out of people’s mouths should be politically correct. Nor am I saying people should censor themselves or be anything than what they are.

    But when people look up to you and more importantly give you their hard earned cash to further the cause of GLBT rights in America, you really should pause and think before answering questions.

    Words have consequences, people!

  6. MT says

    I sort of took Barrios’ statement as meaning Ellen is extraordinarily accepted by America where Chely isn’t so she is more likely to shock people into considering gay people.

    I guess I just tend not to automatically find a conspiracy or evil intent behind every thing I rad. I think Musto had a knee-jerk reaction.

  7. MT says

    PS I saw the Chely Wright interview on Ellen. Before that I didn’t give a hoot about CW and was highly skeptical of her motives, but after how she handled herself on Ellen I have to give her major credit. To Ellen as well. Between Ellen’s framing of the interview and Chely’s responses the whole thing was extremely moving and well-handled.

  8. Frank says

    Barrios – make your point next time without attacking allies. Especially the only lesbian that most of America can name & that they actually like!

  9. Bryan Harrison says

    The man said “impactful.” I repeat: we’re paying attention to a person who said “impactful.”

    Oh no, I’m not. Sorry, no way am I acknowledging this guy exists. Cancel this post. “La la la la la…”

  10. walter says

    glaad along with hrc are so tied to doing the right thing. they always end up wrong. they are usually late on issues and get the message wrong or too weak to be effective. time for them to pack up shop and go away. ellen has done for gay rights by coming out than 20 unknown cw singers. and ellen did it when it was very unpopular.

  11. David says

    GLAAD is worthless. The whole organization is super shady. Someone wrote an article recently that said GLAAD gives all these awards to Disney/ABC. ANd Disney?ABC just happen to be GLAAD’s largest contributors. What are they up to now? Like 15 award ceremonies a year? What a joke.

  12. MadM@ says

    I’m not sure what context would make that quote more tolerable. Ellen coming out was and is the reason there are people “in red states [that] couldn’t give two hoots about Ellen DeGeneres.” That was 13 years ago in ’97 which was a very different time. Jarrett Barrios sounds like a bit of a dumbass here.

    Good for Chely if coming out gives her career a boost.. cuz she’s way more famous now than she ever was previously. Chely definitely wasn’t as big in country music compared to Ellen in television when coming out. I don’t see why he can’t give props to Chely without beating down Ellen.

    I’ve noticed a trend in people that become self-appointed mouthpieces for all of queerdom – they tend to be like queen bees killing their developing sisters. Not very quality leadership IMO.

  13. shane says

    Jarret Barrios is a smart individual, who had the political and social convictions to be an out 18-yr-old freshman in college in 1986. He and Michael Musto should and would be friends– and allies– if they had an opportunity. This is the lesson here.

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