Ford Reaffirms Support for the LGBT Community, Denies Deal with AFA

WASHINGTON — In a statement released Dec. 14, Ford
Motor Company reaffirmed its commitment to its progressive
workplace policies, said it would place corporate
advertising in LGBT publications on behalf of all of its
brands, including Jaguar and Land Rover, and would
continue financial support for LGBT organizations and
events consistent with its business condition. In response,
a broad coalition of LGBT organizations issued a statement
commending Ford for its actions. Visit www.media.ford.com
to read Ford’s statement.
“We applaud Ford Motor for taking such a firm stand on
behalf of our community — pledging to continue support
for our community’s organizations and events, and increasing
— not decreasing — its advertising in our community’s
publications to include all Ford brands. This is a very
positive, welcome outcome,” said Matt Foreman, Executive
Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The coalition, comprised of more than twenty LGBT
organizations, issued the following statement: “We welcome
today’s statement from Ford Motor Company and
commend their firm stance in support of inclusion. It is an
unequivocal reaffirmation of Ford’s historic commitment
to our community and the core American values of fairness
and equality. Moreover, it is conclusive proof of what Ford
leaders have repeatedly assured us — that there never was
any deal with anti-LGBT organizations concerning Ford’s
support for our community.
We are proud to be back in gear with Ford and look
forward to working with them in the years ahead.”
The controversy erupted on Dec. 1, 2005, when the
American Family Association (AFA) officially announced it
was dropping its threat of a boycott, saying Ford “heard our
concerns; they are acting on our concerns. We are pleased
with where we are.” According to the AFA and media
reports, in order to avoid a boycott, Ford allegedly agreed
to no longer run ads promoting Jaguar or Land Rover in the
gay press and no longer support gay events or organizations.
According to the AFA, Ford could continue running
Volvo ads in the gay press, but no longer tailor those ads to
the gay community (i.e., in the future such ads would be the
same ads that are run in the mainstream media, rather than
the crafting the ads to appeal to a gay readership).The next
day, a Ford spokesperson appeared to confirm an agreement
by saying the company would stop advertising its Jaguar and
Land Rover brands in gay publications. The AFA is an extremist
anti-LGBT organization that routinely threatens boycotts
against LGBT-supportive companies, television programs it
does not like, and even cartoon characters such as SpongeBob.
On Dec. 5, 18 leading LGBT organizations issued a
statement calling upon Ford to disavow any agreement with
AFA, to reaffirm its commitment to the LGBT community
and to meet with the LGBT community and resolve the
issue. As a result of that statement, Ford Motor executives
met with LGBT community representatives, including Task
Force Executive Director Matt Foreman, in Washington,
D.C., on Dec. 12. There, Ford said it would issue a statement
based on the topics discussed, and the comprehensive
statement released today was the result.

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Mraz the Spaz


Story and photo by John Chambrone
ST. PETERSBURG—Singer Jason Mraz is not one to shy away from his self-described geekiness. He actually embraces it. “Here I am, this skinny little white kid wearing this
pink polo shirt, just feeling totally awkward. I probably looked like the biggest nerd.” The former cheerleading camper even penned the tune ‘Geek in the Pink,’ describing the colored shirt he bares no shame wearing in public. Leaving the pink shirt behind at a recent Janus Landing
performance, Mraz’s fifteen-song performance drew heavily from his sophmore release, Mr. A-Z. “I get to meet a lot of awkward teenagers, and right now they’re kind of feeling like they’re not cool, but it’s usually the geeks that are the cool people, and the people who think they’re really cool are usually the geeks,” he said. “But the bottom line is we’re all the same people. We’re all just a bunch of geeks trying to make it up as we go along.”
One can see that Mraz is passionate about his music, but maybe he should leave the rapping to the professionals. He is at his best when he just sings. Case in point, Mraz opened the show with his single “Life Is Wonderful.” It is a beautiful song with a ‘la la la la’ type chorus. His ‘rhyme,’
two songs later, just wasn’t as impressive. Sure, the guy can master the mike, but I think he is selling himself short. Mraz is the geeky, sensitive, artist type, and the rapping just clashed with what he is perceived to be. Midway through his performance, opening act Tristan Prettyman came onstage and they dueted his song “Shy That Way.”
Mraz has been busy on the concert circuit recently, opening for acts like Liz Phair, Alanis Morissette and the Rolling Stones. Relishing his time on the road with Mick Jagger and the Stones was an experience he will never forget. Not only did he get to watch them perform nightly, but he got a few chances to talk to the members of the band. His biggest moment came, however, when he got his mom backstage to meet them. Mraz joked that it was fun
seeing his mother acting like a teenager when she got to meet the legendary Rolling Stones.

About his time at cheerleader camp, he confesses there were a few reasons behind attending it. Screaming into a megaphone during rallies may up your geek factor tenfold, but Mraz says he milked every second of the opportunity.
“There were three guys and like 400 beautiful cheerleaders,” the singer joked. “It’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I don’t know why guys get flack for being a cheerleader, because it’s the best gig you could ask for.” While in high school, Mraz was also involved with choir, drama, and spent many a Friday night at Skate America.

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Brokeback is a Hit!


TAMPA—The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was among the organizations lauding the opening weekend success of Ang Lee’s long-awaited gay cowboy flick, Brokeback
Mountain. Opening in just five theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the film took in a record three-day box office total of $544,549, or an average of $109,000 per screen — both the highest per-screen average for any film release in 2005 and the highest per-screen average ever for an adult drama, according to Exhibitor Relations Co, Inc.
Not only does Brokeback seem to be a commercial hit, but it is a critical success, as well. When the Golden Globe nominations were announced, the film lead the pack with seven, including Best Picture, a Best Director nod for Ang Lee and Best Actor for Heath Ledger, making it a leading contender for the Oscars.
Brokeback Mountain opened in limited release in December, and will expand to more theaters in January. Check local listings for a theater near you.

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