GLAAD just filed a letter with the FCC reversing their controversial support of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and coming out in full support of Net Neutrality. Looks like they listened to our advice on how to restore their image after the resignation of GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios, six GLAAD board members, and the infamous AT&T supporter Troupe Coronado.
So why the about-face?
From GLAAD’s press release:
“A rigorous review process considered GLAAD’s unique mission and concluded that while AT&T has a strong record of support for the LGBT community, the explanation used to support this particular merger was not sufficiently consistent with GLAAD’s work to advocate for positive and culture-changing LGBT stories and images in the media,” said [Mike Thompson, GLAAD’s Acting President following extensive discussion among GLAAD leadership and supporters.]
In affirming GLAAD’s support for the principle of net neutrality, Thompson wrote in the FCC letter: “GLAAD is a strong supporter of the general principle of net neutrality. Although this letter is not specific to any proposed or existing regulatory or legislative standards, we acknowledge that net neutrality is one of the principles most responsible for the Internet’s emergence as the dominant platform for free expression. A nondiscriminatory and neutral Internet has allowed new digital media initiatives and the blogosphere itself to flourish online. Net neutrality has cultivated the plethora of online resources available to otherwise isolated LGBT Americans seeking help with coming out, coping with and countering discrimination, suicide and HIV/AIDS prevention resources, community building and political organizing tools, and general self-expression. GLAAD’s own work has been effective thanks in large part to net neutrality.”
This is really great news for a few reasons. First off, GLAAD had no business commenting on the merger to begin, at least not for the inarticulate reasons they initially gave. This new statement shows they’re serious about their original mission statement and not about needlessly taking political stands in support of big telecoms (no matter how LGBT friendly AT&T is).
Second, GLAAD’s newfound support for Net Neutrality will allow the organization to position itself as a queer leader in the fight for a free internet. GLAAD has great organizing potential and could mobilize a bunch of other LGBT orgs to take a political stand against any telecom or government body pushing for a regulated “pay-for-play” internet.
GLAAD should also consider drafting a statement further expounding on how Net Neutrality directly affects queer businesses, artists, and media outlets overall; such a statement would fit with GLAAD’s desire to expand positive depictions of LGBT in America online and off. At the very least they could assist other pro-Net Neutrality organizations in focusing queer-centric messaging for the imminent web battle.