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.