Ptown Forum Looks At Images Of Gays

August 08, 1997

What effect did the coming out of "Ellen" have on mainstream America's perceptions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people? Have the allegations that gay man Andrew Cunanan murdered five people including fashion designer Gianni Versace affected people's impressions of the GLBT community?

These are some of the questions to be discussed at a Provincetown community forum sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). The discussion will center on the increasingly visible role of the GLBT community in the media including television and film. The forum, entitled "The Ellen/Cunanan Effect: Who is the Gay `Me' in Mainstream Media?" will be held on Friday, August 22, 1997 at 7:30 p.m. at Provincetown Town Hall. The panel discussion will feature comic and social commentator Kate Clinton; Rene Graham, television and cultural critic at The Boston Globe; and Robert Bray, media critic with the San Francisco-based Institute for Alternative Journalism. Kerry Lobel, NGLTF executive director will moderate the panel.

"We've moved in a few short months from Ellen Morgan as the most recognized gay person in America to Andrew Cunanan" said Lobel. "Ellen was the girl next door. Andrew was America's most wanted criminal suspect. Ellen was the proof that if America knew us, America would love us. Andrew represented our own worst fears and those of America," she added.

This is the third annual Provincetown community forum. Last year's discussion focused on the approaching presidential election, and the 1995 forum discussed gay and lesbian families and their children. Provincetown resident and NGLTF board member John R. Dreyer said, 'the GLBT influence in Provincetown often helps us forget that we are part of a larger world and a country still conflicted about people whose sexual orientation or gender identity puts them at odds with traditional expectations. The way we are portrayed in the media reflects the assumptions, hopes and fears of the wider world." The Forum, free and open to all, is held in conjunction with NGLTF's 10th annual Sunset Deck Party on Sunday, August 24 at the Red Inn. For more information, contact John R. Dreyer at (508) 487-1319 or visit our website at


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.