By Maile Munro
We are constantly bombarded with other people’s voices. From billboards that tell us what to buy to the opinion editors who tell us what to think, we are hearing others’ voices all the time. But whose voice is heard the loudest?
Dave Elliot, a TV-newscaster in Mississippi, has been getting a lot of attention for a Facebook post he made on March 27.
“I’m all for the LGBT community’s ongoing fight for equality. I support their fight in every way. But, it seems like they’ve been in the news too much lately. Maybe they should take a short break. Go on gaycation, just for the weekend. Enjoy yourselves!”
Elliot has been reporting for his ABC/CBS news affiliate, WXOL-TV, since 1985. He has been on air for more almost 30 years and broadcasts seven days a week.
Through the viral power of the Internet, Elliot’s Facebook post, though only intended for his friends, has now made it into national media. His voice has been further amplified.
There is change in representation in the media.
Mississippi news outlets have dealt with a lot of LGBT news in the past year, from marches on the capitol and the recent passing of a religious freedom bill that justifies various forms of discrimination against LGBT persons and others.
In fact, the reality that the LGBT news has been a focus point for so long and that a news anchor commented on it is hopeful.
As Larry Gross identifies in his book “Up from Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America” the struggle for LGBT representation in mainstream media has been an uphill battle.
“The increasingly visible presence of queer people –women, men, and trans– has contributed mightily to the subversion of traditional sexual morality and the expansion of the range of personal possibilities.”
Strides have been made, but there is still conflict.
“His complaint was that he was hearing too much about the gay community,” said Guilford PRIDE member sophomore Cara Messina. “My only response to that is: I’m tired of hearing about white straight men.”
Elliot is part of a group who is under attack. The fight for gender equality, race equality and sexuality equality is making progress, and that threatens the straight while male.
“He’s coming from this point of incredible privilege, where the news is centered around achievements of men like him,” said Messina.
Furthermore, his voice is amplified not only from years of advantages, but also by the fact that he is a prominent local news figure.
Elliot has issued an apology saying, “I recently made an insensitive and unprofessional Facebook post regarding the LGBT community. I did not choose my words wisely and I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by it. I’ve advocated for justice and equality my entire life. I hope this heartfelt apology is accepted in the spirit in which it is being made.”
While he proclaims that he is an ally, his unconscious stream on Facebook is more telling of how he has internalized a system that has taught him that someone of a different sexual orientation is different than he is.
“It’s sparked interesting conversation, but it doesn’t need to be news,” Messina points out.
In a battle to be heard, there are still struggles.