[EDITOR'S NOTE:] The following is a guest post by Thomas Heald. Thomas is for many, "the Pridelets guy," author and editor of nearly 3000 different daily bite sized chunks of LGBTQ history. His Pridelets can be found at PageOneQ.com and soon on the air at the GAYBC Radio Nework. When not slaving away for "The Man," he has researched and written for Ogilvy Public Relations, David Letterman’s World Wide Pants Inc., RawStoryQ/PageOneQ.com, a long running "mutated TV guide" listings column at both TV.Yahoo.com, and TV Barn.com.
I can't tell you how excited I am to hear that Viacom's Logo network and the Human Rights Campaign will "co-present an historic televised forum on issues of importance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community with the leading 2008 Democratic presidential candidates, including, currently confirmed and in alphabetical order, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama." It would help, perhaps, if I actually was excited. Although I am glad they had one of the interns in the press department take the time to alphabetize the names of the alpha dogs participating. (Since the press release was issued, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich has also signed on.)
Hot on the heels of the historic Hardball/MSNBC Debate, the CNN/You Tube Debate, The Fox News Channel/Text Message Debate, The Sojourners/CNN Presidential Forum, and the PBS/Tavis Smiley Show Debates, it's kinda nice two of the nineteen "major" contenders currently running for President are willing to devote an hour to the topic of why they don't fully support same sex unions. (Only two officially do - Congressmen Mike Gravel and the aforementioned Kucinich. The latter in fact is the only one with a perfect score on the HRC's litmus tests, supporting a transgender-inclusive ENDA and hate crimes bills, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, lifting the military ban on openly-serving gays, civil unions and same-sex marriage, gay adoption, and opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment.)
According to Newsmax.com, "Sens. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden declined the invitation to appear at the forum, citing scheduling conflicts. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has not yet said whether he'll attend. Former Alaska Gov. Mike Gravel was not invited to participate because he did not meet a $100,000 fundraising threshold, HRC spokesman Brad Luna said."
Gravel, one of the two most pro-gay candidates isn't invited to the prom? How disappointing, since it could easily raise his profile (marginally more than his Zen-like YouTube campaign video which was mocked by "The Daily Show".)
Melissa Etheridge and the HRC's Joe Solmonese will co-host the event, which will likely be competing for attention opposite a preseason football game between the Colts and Cowboys, repeats of "CSI" and "Grey's Anatomy," and a new episode of the always cheeky Graham Norton show on BBC America.
Logo's president, Brian Graden, hailed the event, declaring that the "forum continues MTV Networks' tradition of engaging vital niche audiences with voting and the electoral process." Gee, that's niche. Looking over the press release, Logo, carrying on the legacy of the famed Kinsey figure of 10% is only available to "27 million subscribers." Meanwhile, "The LGBT vote is considered a decisive electoral force and according to exit poll data make up approximately 4 percent of the voting population." It would appear the other 6 percent adding up to the perfect "10" are either too young to vote, don't, or would rather see a repeat of "Queer as Folk."
The real task for the trio (unless anyone else figures out what's in it for their campaign) is for them to not only tell us exactly what we want to hear, yet not have this footage show up in the next generation of "Swift Boat" ads. The task for Logo, on the other hand, is for the program to be more than just a one-hour infomercial for three candidates to divvy up the pink dollar.
This is not to say the GLBT audience is not full of important special valuable fabulous people worthy of being delivered focus-group tested "gotcha" lines. They are just like everyone else. (Come to think of it, where are the Univision/Telemundo debates for the candidates to address presumably legal Mexican immigrants or one for ... oh right, the Native American channel has yet to form.) That's progress, I guess. Then again, if anyone screws up there’s always the chance to recover in the September HGTV/Cat Fancy Magazine Debates.