Disney recently announced that its new film, "Jungle Cruise," will feature the company's first openly gay character. The role will be played by Jack Whitehall, a British comedian who is straight. The casting decision has led to backlash by some members of the LGBTQ community, who say Disney should have cast a gay actor, and that the decision to hire Whitehall will promote stereotypes of gay men. However, there's pushback against the pushback. Other members of the LGBTQ community say actors are actors and should be able to play any role, regardless of their sexuality off screen. They also say that if a gay man had been chosen for the role, he would have been typecast.

The news is just one of a number of recent stories about LGBTQ representation in film and media. Research shows there were fewer LGBTQ characters on screen last year than in previous years.

Our guests discuss the debate over Disney's and other casting decisions, and how they think production companies can be more inclusive in their storytelling. In studio:

The sitcom Will and Grace is making its return to the airwaves on Thursday, after finishing an eight year run in 2006. Former Vice President Joe Biden credited the show with educating Americans about LGBTQ issues.

We discuss the evolution of gay characters on screen, and whether the show deserves its reputation. In studio:

The Gay Alliance's new LGBTQ resource center is getting ready for its grand opening. We learn about what the center will offer for the LGBTQ community locally, and we have a conversation about the state of equality heading into 2016. Our guests:

We look at the impact of Apple CEO Tim Cook's announcement that he's gay. He's the only Fortune 500 CEO who is out, and already there are negative implications coming from Russia and China. In the United States, Cook's employees can still get fired for coming out in a number of states. What is the current climate for gay Americans in the work force? With us to discuss is our panel:  

  • Bess Watts, President of the local chapter of Pride at Work
  • Emily Jones, board member of Out and Equal and member of the Business Council of the Human Rights Campaign for 13 years
  • Judy Johnson, member of Pride at Work
  • Eliza Hammer, member of regional council for Out and Equal

Monday on Connections, we discussed the suicide of inventor Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt and the ramifications for the transgender community.

ESPN’s Grantland.com ran a story about Dr. V earlier this month; she committed suicide after the ESPN writer uncovered her transgender status and said he would write about it.

Gay Alliance Opens Senior Center

May 10, 2012

The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley is now expanding services to its older members.

The Senior Center will help elders connect with healthcare information and other beneficial services more easily. Every Monday and Tuesday from 11am-3pm, the Gay Alliance on East Main street will open its doors to  anyone 50 years of age or older in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual or Transgender community.

Spokesperson Kelly Clark says it's important LGBT elders stay connected to the community as they age because they're more likely to live alone.