How CMT Transformed Nashville Into Its Most Successful (And Progressive) Show

In 2015, Rolling Stone said ABC’s Nashville “reflects real-life struggles in the entertainment industry.”  This was in reference to the country soap’s gay characters, Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) and Kevin Bix (Kyle Dean Massey).

At the time, Bix was a new addition to the Nashville family, and as an openly gay singer, struggled to have a successful career. Lexington was hiding his sexual identity from his fans, while flourishing professionally.

Flash forward to 2017. Nashville moved to CMT for its fifth season earlier this year. Now, Lexington is out and proud, realizing he could still embrace his role as a country music star as an LGBT individual after being forced out of the closet in season three by a rival musician.

Since joining the CMT roster, Nashville has become the network’s highest-rated and most-watched series ever. Even after losing a beloved main character (Rayna James) in a tragic car crash, the show has remained wildly successful.

At least part of this success can be attributed to CMT’s inventive and progressive storyline and character development. Take Lexington’s evolution, for example. Entertainment blog Cinemablend commended CMT on “sprucing up” his character, giving him more than just romantic story arcs and LGBT-drama to fill his screen time.

Even the network’s portrayal of his sexuality has adopted more realistic angles. Even though Music City is full of heartbreak and drama, being a gay country singer doesn’t have to be riddled with conflict. In a recent episode that aired during Pride Month, Lexington got the opportunity to be a brand spokesperson for Budweiser.

Watch the fictional spot:

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LGBT-Friendly Companies, Ireland’s Gay Prime Minister, Play in the Netherlands and More: Viacom International Insights, June 2017

by Christian Kurz, Global Consumer Insights, Viacom

Welcome to the July issue of the Viacom Global Insights Digest, bringing you Viacom’s latest consumer insights from around the world.

For Pride Month (June), we published stories on the most LGBT-friendly US companies and Ireland’s first gay prime minister. We also have a video of our Modern Dads and research on play in the Netherlands, Gen Xers in South Africa and originality among teens and young adults.

As always, the English version of our blog is home to these stories and many more. All stories are available in Spanish (LatAm) and Portuguese (Brazilian).

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Viacom Signs Historic Legal Petition Defending LGBT Rights

No one deserves to be fired for their sexual orientation.

This is the logic behind Viacom and 49 other companies’ decision to sign a formal legal petition asking the U.S. 2nd  Court of Appeals to extend a federal law prohibiting employers from firing workers for being gay. This is the first time businesses have explicitly taken this position, according to Freedom for All Americans, a bipartisan campaign group that Viacom consulted with on this issue.

“All Americans deserve the right to go to work and provide for their families without having to fear that they might lose their job simply because of who they are,” said Freedom for All Americans Acting CEO Katie Belanger in an email to Viacom.

“Unfortunately, most states do not have laws explicitly prohibiting employment discrimination against LGBT individuals. That is why this case is so important. We are grateful for the leadership of Viacom and the 49 other businesses who have called on the court to ensure the fair and equal treatment of gay and bisexual employees,” said Belanger.

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Logo’s Trailblazer Honorees “Stood On the Shoulders of Giants” to Become Pioneers of Change for This Generation

Throughout history, art has defended the human spirit. Especially in times of political crisis, art and activism become inextricably related.

This was clear after attending Logo’s Trailblazer Honors, which celebrates the work of honorees who have made indelible contributions to LGBT civil rights—through writing, dancing, singing and producing. This year’s honorees included Cyndi Lauper; activist and author Cleve Jones (his memoir, When We Rise, inspired ABC’s miniseries by the same name); the late Alvin Ailey, who is credited with making modern dance an inclusive space for LGBT African-Americans; and the creators of NBC’s Will and Grace, Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.

Logo taped the event on Thursday, June 22 at the historic Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and aired it the following night on VH1 and Logo.

 

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The Commerce of Inclusion: Take a Look at Logo’s List of 25 Trailblazing Companies for the LGBT Community

What do Target, Google, Nike, AT&T, and American Express have in common? They’re among the 25 most LGBT-friendly companies in the U.S., according to Logo, Viacom’s network inspired by the LGBT community.

Logo unveiled its second annual Trailblazing Companies list on the eve of Pride Month in June to compile the catalog of inclusive and supportive businesses.

So, how can Logo measure the economics of equality? With the help of Witeck Communications, a marketing firm focused on LGBT consumer habits, Logo scored companies based on seven criteria:

Courtesy of Logo/Witeck Communications.

Aside from promoting equality and inclusivity, why should companies care about promoting LGBT initiatives? Well, there’s this: the LGBT community has an estimated buying power of $971 billion, according to Witeck Communications President Bob Witeck.

“The footprint that gay people have today in the economy is much, much more present, much more visible,” Witeck said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “Also, companies are responding not just to LGBT purchasing power, they are responding to others who are aligned and sympathetic.”

Take a look at the top 25 companies:

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Make America Fierce Again: What a Ratings Surge Tells Us About RuPaul’s Drag Race

After strutting from Logo to VH1, RuPaul’s Drag Race’s ninth season premiered Friday, March 24. Critics say it’s as fabulous as ever—with a fierce cast delivering a whole new level of charisma, nerve, and talent. Viewers agree. The season premiere drew nearly 1 million viewers, more than any other episode of Drag Race. It was the most-watched show on cable TV that night, besides the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. The divas dominated Twitter, as well, trending worldwide and garnering the highest Twitter volume in Drag Race history.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: (L-R) Eureka O'hara, Peppermint, Kimora Blac, Alexis Michelle; Trinity Taylor, Shea Coulee, Jaymes Mansfield, Nina Bo' Nina Brown, Aja, Valentina, Sasha Velour, Charlie Hides and Farrah Moan attend "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 9 Premiere Party & Meet The Queens Event at PlayStation Theater on March 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

The cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race attend Season 9 Premiere Party & Meet The Queens Event at PlayStation Theater on March 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

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Logo’s Global Ally Examines the Less Sunny Side of Jamaica

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

“Growing up, my mother was always saying that [if] any of her child become gay or lesbian, she would take them out personally,” says the unidentified man in the red tank top, his head sliced from the camera shot. “Meaning she would kill us herself.”

Facing these sorts of attitudes and resorting to clandestine behavior are the reality for the LGBT community in Jamaica, where same-sex relations are scorned by an enormous chunk of the population: more than 80 percent, according to a new video from Logo’s Global Ally campaign and the Where Love Is Illegal organization, believe that homosexuality is immoral. And while homosexuality is not illegal, “acts of gross indecency” – intimate relations between members of the same sex – are.

The video, This is Who I Am: LGBTQ Stories of Survival, is the latest in Global Ally’s year-long storytelling project that launched last year on The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biophobia to unite victims, activists and supporters of LGBT rights around the world.

The Jamaica that unfolds on the video is a brutal realm where LGBT individuals often live in constant fear of violence, exiled from their families, unemployed and uneducated because they are forever shunning public places.

In an atmosphere so tainted, why, then, would anyone come out at all?

“Our personal stories, which display our humanity, are very important, because it’s not real to Jamaican people unless they know somebody who’s part of the community,” says one man, echoing Logo’s position that increased visibility of LGBT individuals – whether in one’s personal life or the media – is the best way to diffuse homophobia.

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Viacom Lands Six GLAAD Nominations Through Unifying Storytelling

From Comedy Central’s drunken reenactment of the Stonewall riots, to Nickelodeon’s normalizing portrayal of gay parents on kids’ television, to Logo’s feature of oppressed love in war-torn Iraq, Viacom was recently pinned with six GLAAD award nominations for the 28th annual ceremony.

The annual awards strive to, “recognize and honor various branches of the media for their outstanding representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and the issues that affect their lives.”

Viacom’s core values of diversity and inclusion align well with GLAAD’s mission, as our networks advocate for LGBT equality both through their programming and via initiatives such as MTV’s Transgender Awareness Week campaign and Logo’s Trailblazer Honors. Several brands united behind the LGBT community in the immediate aftermath of last year’s Orlando nightclub massacre and beyond.

Check out Viacom’s nominees below and click here for a full 2017 GLAAD Media Awards nomination list.

Outstanding Documentary

The Same DifferenceCentric

In an effort to expel stigma and keep LGBT people from discriminating against one another, The Same Difference tells personal stories of the hypocrisy and division that exist in lesbian communities due to expectations and gender roles.

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Viacom Insights: Now Also in Spanish and Portuguese

by Christian Kurz, Global Consumer Insights, Viacom

International Insights Digest: January 2017

Welcome to the January issue of the Viacom International Insights Digest, bringing you Viacom’s latest consumer insights from around the world.

This month, we are pleased to announce that our insights blog is now available in both Spanish (LatAm) and Portuguese (Brazilian). A drop-down menu in the upper right corner allows for toggling between languages.

To celebrate this launch, we’re sharing new stories from the Americas on LGBT acceptance, music, cars, and personal care.

As always, the English version of our blog is home to these stories and many more.

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If You Don’t Vote for Yourself, Then Who the Hell Gonna Vote For you?

“If you can’t love yourself,” RuPaul declares at the end of each episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, “then how in hell are you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an amen?”

No reality television show seems to have resonated with the LGBT community quite like RuPaul’s Drag Race. It encourages viewers—no matter their sexuality—to love themselves, to cherish what makes them singularly precious, and not to let anybody make them feel otherwise.

It’s fitting, then, that RuPaul made a PSA for National Voter Registration Day, urging his legions of followers to get to the polls and strut their 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, 26th Amendments—that is, by sashaying into the voting booth.

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