Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay
Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay is an American reality television series which Fox planned to begin broadcasting on June 7, 2004. The two-hour special featured two heterosexual men competing for a $50,000 prize based on their ability to pass as gay for a week, including convincing their friends and family that they, the competitors, were actually gay. At its conclusion, the two would be judged by a panel of gay men, including Jared Sullivan, who had been told one of them was gay. The contestant selected by the panel as gay would win the money. Seriously was produced by Rocket Science Laboratories, the same company that produced other Fox-aired reality series including Joe Millionaire, Temptation Island and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance.
Seriously drew the condemnation of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which called the special "an exercise in systematic humiliation". Among the objectionable content, GLAAD noted the contestants' description of their experience as "their worst nightmare" and being "trapped in gay hell". One contestant had to tell a former wrestling teammate that his participation in the sport was based on his desire for "close contact with sweaty boys" and later had to trick an unsuspecting gay man on a blind date with him to agree to a second date. GLAAD scheduled a meeting with the network to discuss its concerns. On May 26, within hours of setting up the meeting, Fox announced that the special had been pulled from the schedule. Fox publicly attributed the decision to "creative issues" but an anonymous source inside Fox said that GLAAD's intervention was welcomed following the failure of the network's earlier gay-themed reality program, Playing It Straight.
In addition to the program's content, Fox also received criticism for its promotional material, including describing the gay judges as a "jury of their queers". The network later apologized for its "failed attempt at humor" that was "ill-chosen and inappropriate".
Several of the gay men involved with the production of Seriously sharply criticized GLAAD for its response to the special. "It's unfortunate that a group as well-intentioned as GLAAD is going to set themselves up as censors and judge what other people should be allowed to air or see. Our primary purpose was to be funny, but if people actually got to see the show, they would probably be more tolerant of gay people in the future," said creative consultant Christian McLaughlin. Executive producer Ray Giuliani concurred, saying, "I am gay; I have a boyfriend; I live in West Hollywood; I have gay friends. The idea that I would do something I would consider homophobic is crazy. [The contestants] walked away learning something about what it feels like to be a gay man in the middle of a straight world." Jackie Beat, a drag performer who appeared on the series in his male identity as a "mantor" (adviser) to the contestants, said, "GLAAD should have no problem with the show because gay people do not come across negatively in any way. What they don't see is that it's obviously poking fun at the straight dudes." One of those "straight dudes", Larry Anderson, who was at the time of filming a 28-year-old salesman from Massachusetts, credited Seriously with helping him conquer his own homophobia and believed it would have shown that stereotypes about gay men are not accurate.
On August 30, 2005, Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay was one of several programs cited in a class-action lawsuit filed by the Writers Guild of America seeking to force the television industry to recognize reality television writers, editors and producers as a collective bargaining unit. The suit, Shriver v. Rocket Science Laboratories, was settled in 2009 for $2.57 million.
- Fox Drops 'Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay'
- Fox cancels 'Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay' reality special
- Goodridge, Mike (October 12, 2004). "Seriously, dude, it was a joke". The Advocate. pp. 85–7. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- FOX apologizes for "inappropriate" joke
- Reality writers sue Fox over lost wages
- Networks, producers will pay $4.11 million to settle reality workers’ overtime lawsuits