On the eve of the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards which will be hosted by Oscar winning actor Halle Berry and screenwriter-actor Tyler Perry, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) will jointly host a forum February 11 on the infrequent intersection of African American and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) images in media, and the importance of these stories being told, particularly in the wake of California's Proposition 8.
The panel will explore the historical under-representation of these images, the ongoing advocacy efforts to promote the telling of these stories and the professional issues and challenges facing openly gay African American artists.
The planned two hour forum will also be co-sponsored by The Screen Actors Guild LGBT Actors Committee and the Beverly Hills-Hollywood Branch of the NAACP starting at 7 PM PST in the Screen Actors Guild James Cagney Board Room.
The panelists confirmed for the event include Willis Edwards, Member, National Board of Directors, NAACP; Vice Chair of the NAACP Image Awards, Deondray Gossett, Writer/Producer/Director, "The DL Chronicles", Maurice Jamal, Writer/Producer/Director, "Dirty Laundry," "The Ski Trip", Sonja Sohn, Actor, "The Wire" and J. Karen Thomas, Actor; Founding Member SAG LGBT Actors Committee
The panel will be moderated by GLAAD Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson.
"For the first time we have five openly gay individuals and multiple gay-themed projects nominated at the NAACP Image Awards," said Jasper Hendricks, NBJC Director of Field Operations. "We are hopeful this historic achievement will begin to break down barriers to openly LGBT arts and entertainment professionals in getting roles and jobs in the industry. We need to continue to highlight our successes and this forum will be a part of educating the media and the industry as to the issues LGBT people face."
"This year's nominees for the NAACP Image Awards demonstrate significant progress at a time when LGBT African Americans continue to be underrepresented in the media and those representations are often based on stereotypes," said GLAAD Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson. "We hope that through open dialogue with industry leaders at forums like this, we can continue to open doors for stories and images of our lives and our communities. These stories – when told in a fair, accurate and inclusive way – have the power to change hearts and minds."
The "Knocking Down the Door: Black LGBT Images in Media" will be held on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 from 7-9 PM PST at the Screen Actors Guild, James Cagney Board Room, First Floor.
For any further information contact: Damon Romine, GLAAD, (323) 634-2012