Recently, someone called me and said, "You work for BET don't you?" I said yes and they said, "Well tell me why BET has three reality shows and not one gay, bi -- hell, even the ultra-safe lesbian route, on their shows? Especially Harlem Heights, much of the cultural history in Harlem was built from gay people -- Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Bessie Smith -- the list is endless. One homo couldn't fit in?" First, I explained I don't create televisions shows at BET. Second, I'm not one to whine about representation on reality television -- who cares? But, I did have to agree they could've used one LGBT person -- New York and Atlanta -- two of the gayest cities in the universe. It's the equivalent to no black people on Friends!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The argument normally is BET is copying MTV's reality shows, which probably isn't too farfetched. MTV has had gay personalities for years -- they originated it with Norman Korpi from the first season of Real World and of course Pedro Zamora from Real World in San Francisco who was HIV positive (imagine if BET did something like that). They've even had two transgender personalities in the last year, which were surprisingly not exploitative. Other reality shows, America's Next Top Model, Project Runway and others are packed with the gays.
Ray Cunningham was the first and only openly gay personality on BET for season three of College Hill.
Is it possible BET couldn't find any openly gay black people on the show? Quincy LeNear and Deondray Gossett, the directors of The DL Chronicles, said it was an extreme struggle to find openly gay and black actors. Or, was BET even looking? Well, Lawd knows if anyone asked me to be a regular on a reality show I'd say, "Hell no!" So, who knows...
Harlem Heights airs every Monday on BET at 10PM.
Posted by Clay ::
12:27 AM ::