The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has had a rough year. Their poorly-thought out support of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger was the domino that eventually caused the resignation of then president Jarrett Barrios. Now GLAAD has hired acting president Mike Thompson to restore their image. So how’s he doing?
Well, the fact that GLAAD withdrew their support from the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and issued a clear statement in support of Net Neutrality the week he took officer are both good signs. His arrival also heralded the resignation of eight GLAAD board members including AT&T flack Troup Coronado, signifying a cleaning of house and a change in GLAAD’s direction.
Thompson used to be the Executive Director of Equality Utah and under his leadership he helped draft pro-gay rights legislation known as the Common Ground Initiative that would have extended some states rights to gay couples. Though that legislation did not pass Utah’s conservative legislature, he did persuade lawmakers to pass antidiscrimination laws in several cities including the location of Mormon headquarters, Salt Lake.
That suggests that Thompson can work with staunchly conservative gatekeepers to become more sympathetic to LGBT-friendly points of view; a good skill to have when persuading networks to include more queers, women, and people of color on the airwaves.
Thompson told The Advocate “My job is to kind of refocus the conversation,” said Thompson. “Because of some things that have happened recently there might be question about the commitment to the mission, but I want to be very clear that the staff’s focus has never wavered. Nobody holds that space that we do. And if GLAAD weren’t here, there would be this void or vacuum, and opportunities would be missed.”