Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I love Ira Glass but I won’t be setting foot into a right wing conservative Christian church to see him

—especially when it’s a fundraiser for OPB.

If you listen to OPB you’ve heard the recent promos for the upcoming visit from Ira Glass, my beloved host of This American Life to Portland, Oregon. But the really weird thing is WHERE he’s reading. New Hope Community Church? Say what?

I know who New Hope Community Church is. I listened to their pastor speak out in favor of Measure 36, eventually succeeding in making my marriage void as he and his church believed—and worked hard so that others would too—marriage was only between one man and one woman. And it’s New Hope Community Church who is one of many churches right now actively seeking signatures against Oregon’s newly passed laws of civil unions and protections against discrimination.

So what’s wrong with this picture? I love Oregon Public Broadcasting, and I love Ira Glass, but there’s no way I’m walking into a church that doesn’t accept me for who I am, and who works against me, to hear him. I just can’t do that. And Oregon Public Broadcasting? They evidently can do that no problem, and are paying a pretty penny for the use of the venue. Yep, they’re paying New Hope, a place that is actively and monetarily working to encourage discrimination, for the use of their venue for the wonderfully inclusive and pro-LGBT Ira Glass to speak.

Come on. This is Portland, Oregon, home to a plethora of colleges, theaters, and even welcoming congregations, and you’re telling me there’s nothing else available? Yes, that’s exactly what they’re saying. According to John Bell, OPB’s Associate Director of Membership, New Hope was the only space available. I really don’t buy that one bit. Word is there are plenty of other places available that night. SSsshhh, no one will mind. Well, I do mind, and I won’t support it. And do you think Ira Glass would really support that if he knew?

I say we find out. Perhaps we should all give his booking agent a call and let him know what you think about Ira Glass speaking at an active anti-LGBT church in Portland, Oregon. That’s (e-mail removed: they've changed the venue!). Or perhaps This American Life’s home at Chicago Public Broadcasting: (phone number removed: they've changed the venue!)

While OPB seems to think this is no big deal, I hope their speaker, the wonderfully inclusive and affirming Ira Glass, may just well disagree with them.
About New Hope -New Hope Church gave $5,000 to get Measure 36 on the ballot (thanks to public records via the Secretary of State’s office), and Pastor Cotton preached from the pulpit in support of this measure that wrote discrimination into our state constitution;
-New Hope is currently actively recruiting signatures to petitions to get on the ballot referendums to oppose our recently passed anti-discrimination and civil union initiatives. This is a church organizing against the basic human rights of Oregon’s LGBTQ community: places to live and work, and protections regardless of sexual orientation.

About This American Life and Ira Glass
-This American Life started in 1995 in Chicago. It went national in early 1996 and in the years since, it's won a lot of awards—the Peabody, the duPont-Columbia, the Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club, to name a few. Ira Glass, the host of the show, was named best radio host in the country by Time Magazine. And the American Journalism Review declared that the show is at "the vanguard of a journalistic revolution."
The program is on more than 500 public radio stations across the country. They say 1.7 million people listen to us on the radio each week, which sometimes is hard to imagine. It's probably airing this weekend on a station near you.
The show has featured many GLBTQ voices, including two of my favorite writers, David Sedaris and Dan Savage.
- Ira Glass started working in public radio in 1978, when he was 19, as an intern at National Public Radio's Washington headquarters. Over the course of the next 17 years, he worked on nearly every NPR news show and did nearly every production job they had: he was a tape-cutter, desk assistant, newscast writer, editor, producer, reporter, and substitute host. He spent a year in a high school for NPR, and a year in an elementary school, filing every week or two for All Things Considered. He moved to Chicago in 1989 and put This American Life on the air in November of 1995.
About the Event -As a supporting and contribution event, OPB is proudly presenting Ira Glass, Sunday, October 7, 2007, 7pm. $28. Ira will talk about the new season of his Showtime series, his public radio show and the release of his new book, The New Kings of Non-Fiction.

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For more in-depth info and juicy e-mails about the topic, visit the awesome work Amy has done over at The Portland Mercury.


Anonymous said...

How can OPB justify this? How can they hold an event for the public in a venue that excludes so many Oregonians? Well, no renewed membership from me!!

Amy J. Ruiz said...

I've got a story on this in tomorrow's Mercury. Ira was going to speak with OPB, and get back to me, but didn't by press time.

There are least two other venues open that night—First Congregational Church on the South Park Blocks, where Ira has spoken before, and the new Gerding Theater (which was stoked when I called to ask, and mentioned Glass...). Both are smaller than New Hope, but still hold hundreds.

I'll have more on this on Blogtown tomorrow, too. Thanks for posting about it! I was worried I would be the only one raising a fuss.

Kristin Steele said...

I am currently fighting to make it that Oregon remains a state where I cannot be fired or turned out of housing because I'm gay. Where I can ensure protections for my family should anything happen to me. And so there is no way I can overlook the active discrimination against me and my family at the hands of New Hope Church. The idea that OPB would overlook it because it's the only space available is crazy. Would they hold a fundraiser in an openly racist space? Sexist space?The work that New Hope has and is doing is well known, and it's been made known to OPB. I count on them to think when others don't. To investigate and get to the bottom of things when others won't. That's why I donate and support them. But the responsibility then is to act. If this was another organization, OPB would be reporting on it. Is it okay because it suits their purposes? I hope they're clear on what it will cost them.

Neva said...

WTF? This is the first I've heard of this. I love Ira Glass and OPB, too and I'm shocked at the venue they picked. Thanks for posting this info; I'm writing to the Barclay Agency right now....because if LeLo ain't going, then neither am I!!!! :-)

Neva said...

FYI: The email you posted for his booking agent is incorrect. It's steven, not steve, at barclayagency.com.

And TAL has a MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/thisamericanlifespace

P.S. I have the biggest crush on Ira Glass!!!

George Seldes said...

Thanks for the heads up -- I posted this after reading your entry.


Christine said...

Hear, hear! I was shocked at the venue choice as well and hope that OPB will reconsider.

Anonymous said...

let's raise some hell! i'm writing his agent, calling TAL, and informing OPB that if they hold this event at a hate-spewing, right-wing church, i will not continue my financial support of OPB. hit them where it hurts...in the pocketbook.

bemused said...

So wrong, so absolutely wrong...

Anonymous said...

Go to opb.org and click on the 'contact us' link on the bottom. I just informed them that if a new venue is not found, I will withdraw my support for them. This is outrageous, and I strongly believe that they will act if enough pressure is brought to bear.

Anonymous said...

fyi, i got an immediate and personal response to my email to Steven Barclay, who assured me that Ira will see my email.

Portlandia said...

This is outrageous. I will join all of you in raising hell about it.

Having said that, I agre that Ira is totally snacky. %^> Which makes it so much worse.

divebarwife said...

I too sent an email to Steven Barclay and received a reply in about 3 minutes that Ira would get the message.

Anonymous said...

I just got this from Steven:

Ira Glass has asked OPB to find an alternate space for his lecture
and they are working on this today. Thank you for your email

digger said...

I just got an email back from Steven Barclay:

Ira Glass has asked OPB to find an alternate space for his lecture event and they are working on this today. Thank you for your email

Steven Barclay Agency
12 Western Avenue
Petaluma, CA 94952
TEL 707-773-0654
FAX 707-778-1868
Email: steven@barclayagency.com

Anonymous said...

i just got the same email; i expect this will be resolved in short order. i knew that ira wouldn't want to speak there once he knew about it. having said that, what's up with the OPB guy who booked this and then said there was no other venue available? i'm no advocate of a witch hunt; perhaps he didn't know about the church's stance beforehand (irritating but a possibly understandable oversight). however, shouldn't he have been a little more responsive to these concerns? thanks lelo for bringing this to everyone's attention.

George Seldes said...

One last detail: need to make sure that OPB doesn't have a contract that requires that they still pay the fee for use of the church, despite not using it.

Anonymous said...

Oh Jesus (Jesus!) people, get over it. The irony is beautiful! There's more gay sex going on at New Hope than most places around and you know it. What's the big deal? It's a chance to sully the elevated confines with your mere presences!! All that OPB provides and some of you are willing to discredit completely on the basis of this most ridiculous of things. Is there such a thing as straight guilt?

Anonymous said...

i'm late to the party in an awesome way, it looks like. congrats on getting some changes made.

i didn't read the comments, though, so i emailed mr. barclay and opb anyway. i'm glad ira glass was so responsive to this.

my worry is that the way opb has handled it so far, they're liable to up and cancel. yikes.

Norm! said...

Last night, OregonLive.com reported that OPB TV VP Tom Doggett confirmed the event is still scheduled at New Hope. Something about the OPB September Member Guide was already mailed.

Apparently bloggers are not "grumbling" loud enough.

(Hat Tip: Oregon Media Insiders)

Anonymous said...

Get over it? Here's a simple chain of transmission for you. I support OPB with my money. OPB pays money to the New Hope Community Church. The church is therefore able to continue their campaign of discrimination against eh GLBTQ community. Why don't I just skip the intermediary stage and donate cash directly to the efforts to repeal Oregon'c civil unions and anti-discrimination laws?

Ever heard of being responsible with your money? I hate the thought of having to divest myself of support for OPB because of thoughtless choices on their part. But there's the difference. OPB may be heedless/thoughtless, but I'm not. If they don't change the venue, I don't support them, because I will not support the anti-equal rights campaign that New Hope espouses. It's pretty simple. Don't tell me to get over it.

Anonymous said...

A moot point anyway: I just got this from Ira's agent:

OPB explained to me today that Tom Dogget was called at home late last night and that because he was uninvolved in the Ira Glass event just thought it was business as usual and had not been fully informed yet that they are moving the date. It is being moved. The Oregonian called my office three times today as has the Mercury and about 95 people who read blogs. Rest assured it is being moved

Hope you can come to the event

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose on OPB's fund drive they'll be using this in their pitch?

"C'mon we need you to give RIGHT now! So we can continue making incredibly numbskulled mistakes and hand your donations over to crazy right wing preachers that oppose your and most American's values. Call now...."

Think they'll use it?????

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Becky Chinn, who is in charge of fundraising events for OPB, had this to say:

"We could have been stubborn," Chinn said. "But the ultimate thing was that this issue was starting to distract from Ira's visit."

Well gee Becky, thanks a million, and sorry that so many of us were incensed and morally outraged that OPB was giving our membership money to an organization that opposes equal rights and actively campaigns for all manner of pro-discrimination causes. Sorry it was an inconvenience for you to do something about reversing this boneheaded blunder on OPB's part.

It seems like they really don't get it, and are more 'put-out' than anything else. She says that the ultimate thing was that it was distracting from Ira's visit. No Becky, that is not the ultimate thing, not by a longshot. Fortunately Ira gets it, or I don't think OPB would have done a damn thing about it. Still, all's well that ends well I guess, although I'd like to give a big fat raspberry to OPB for their ham-handed, insensitive handling of the whole situation.



Anonymous said...


Jesus, grow some fucking skin. Seriously, there's so much more going here than the "insensitivity" of OPB. Among these is a good old obsession with drama and controversy, stirred up in large part by bloggers trying to generate traffic and make a name for themselves. The preciousness on display by so many in regards to this issue is really appalling. I'm as progressive as anyone I know, and I can't believe the bandwagon jumping that's gone on with all of this. I abhor the Christian Right and everything they stand for-- I think if it's like anyone to be offended by all of this, it'd be them for allowing a bunch of libs into their special place.

You know what? It's over. The venue's been changed. This isn't some larger statement about the secret homophobes that exist within the confines of OPB. This isn't some revelatory finding about OPB's true stance on gay rights. Want to get pissed off about something? Listen to the real news, the news OPB provides you with everyday about soldiers dying in Iraq and US presidents spending more taxpayer money on photo ops from the green zone. There's plenty to be pissed off about. In the immortal words of Sinead O'Connor: fight the real enemy.