March 27, 2008
Our gayest looks for Jay Leno
On Thursday, March 20, 2008, Jay Leno welcomed as his guest on The Tonight Show the actor Ryan Phillippe, who, early in his career, played a gay character on the daily soap One Life to Live. During the interview, Leno hounded Phillippe, telling him to look into the camera, pretend it was his “gay lover…Billy Bob,” who “has just ridden in shirtless from Wyoming” (still milking the Brokeback jokes), and give it his “gayest look.”
The reaction: My Gayest Look
And while we’re being a bit cheeky about all this, our message is dead serious: A 2005 study by GLSEN found that 90% of LGBTQ teens had been harassed or assaulted during the previous year. They were three times as likely as non-LGBTQ students to say that they do not feel safe at school and remain at increased risk for bullying, assault, and suicide. That doesn’t happen in a void. Gay jokes are not harmless; they contribute to a culture in which institutionalized homophobia has tragic consequences. We want Jay Leno to know that we, LGBTQ people and their allies, are not amused.