J.C. Penney’s Basks in GAYppreciation

by Steve Weinstein

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday February 11, 2012

And now, the backlash against the backlash. It's only been a few Just days since the war of words between a group that (according to several reports, is at the least severely misnamed) calls itself One Million Moms, GLAAD and Ellen DeGeneres over the J.C. Penney chain's decision to have the talk show host be their spokesperson.

In that time, DeGeneres herself spoke up about the brouhaha. Meanwhile, GLAAD is fighting against the group, which is aligned with the virulently anti-gay American Family Association.

But the protest doesn't appear to be "sticky" on the rights. In the ultra-conservative website Townhall, no less a personage than Fox News' top talking head, Bill O'Reilly, served it up to the anti-Ellen protesters.

"While I sympathize with folks not wanting to deal with homosexuality, I think the Moms are wrong," O'Reilly opines. "DeGeneres is an American citizen. She has committed no crime. If she wants to promote equality for gays or gay marriage, that is her constitutional right. She should not be dismissed from anything."

He goes on to compare her favorably to reality star Kim Kardashian and warns of McCarthy-type witch hunts. "There are scores of media people who are celebrated for bad behavior," O'Reilly concludes. "If the Moms want to be consistent in their outrage about dubious behavior, they are going to be very busy."

Well! In light of that unusual endorsement, a large group of mostly gay men descended on the Manhattan branch of the department store chain on Saturday, Feb. 11. Flashing credit cards (and, more importantly, using them to buy merchandise), the crowd was met with a very friendly cadre of management from the store, which sits in the middle of Herald Square, the nation's busiest shopping district.

There are attempts to organize similar flash mobs in other cities. Anyone interested in participating -- or organizing -- should probably check Facebook, which is meeting-central for such protests.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).