Most of the drama we usually see interior designer/house flipper Jeff Lewis involved in pertains to his reality series Flipping Out, which returns for its sixth season tonight on Bravo. Recently, however, Lewis’s trademark brutal honesty landed him in some hot water with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and there’s been a brouhaha building.
Lewis brought up the situation in an August 23rd press call promoting Flipping Out’s new season…
“I used to be really involved with GLAAD and I would go to their functions and I’d donate money and this is part of a – I guess, when I – when we talk about how I’m so upfront and honest, how it gets me in trouble…I was talking about a transgender person and I did not – was not aware of all – I try to keep up with all these politically correct terms, but I still don’t know…I called somebody – I had mentioned a tran…a he/she, I didn’t really know that it was offensive and rather than someone from GLAAD calling me and educating me, what they did was they sent me a threatening letter that if I didn’t issue a public apology, that I could no longer be associated with GLAAD.”
“Well of course, I did not do that, because I don’t agree with that, because I didn’t mean anything by it. And they kicked me out of the club…so that’s where I get – the honesty gets me in a little bit of hot water even though I didn’t mean anything by it at all. But you’d think that they would just educate me rather than just, you know – I don’t know, they just booted me. ” (from an NBC transcript)
During our interview with Lewis earlier today, AfterElton asked him where things stood with GLAAD.
AfterElton: I have to ask you about the whole thing going on with GLAAD. Is there any movement there? Or are they in your past?
Jeff Lewis: I mean, it shocks me that no one has reached out to me except to…the only time that I ever hear from them is publicly in some sort of counter-statement. But it just shocked me that no one has reached out me and said ‘Hey, let’s work this out.’ It’s upsetting. It’s so upsetting. I don’t understand what’s going on over there.
AE: I read some of the articles out there that say that [GLAAD] did send out a statement and asked for your thoughts on it and you didn’t give any thoughts. Is that true or is that their statement?
JL: In efforts to not create any sort of war, I haven’t really said anything else in the press because I have the emails to prove it. No one ever said to me ‘We want to give you an opportunity to clarify what you said.’ In their last statement they said they gave me the option to either clarify or apologize but I have the emails. They gave me one option and one option only. It was to apologize publicly or they will disassociate themselves from me, which is exactly what they did.
Look, I don’t respond to threats. I really felt, I really felt like we could have worked it out. I truly, when I was saying…I referred to a transgender person as ‘he/she’ and I honestly had no idea it was offensive. It’s disappointing because I’ve always supported the organization, I’m sad that I’m no longer a part of it, I miss the fun events…I’m just kind of disappointed by the whole thing.
AE: So if they came to you today to talk about it, you’d still be open to it?
JL: Of course. Absolutely. The emails that I got were from a guy by the name of Matt Kane, and from what I understand he has been quite a s**t-stirrer over at GLAAD so it’s not just me he’s gone after. So I don’t know if maybe he had something to do with it because I’ve had interview after interview, and I’ve never received anything like that before. I don’t know. Maybe it’s him. I don’t know. Maybe it’s more than one person. I say this in a very non-confrontational way. I’m just sad about it, and I miss being affiliated with the organization, and I wish it had gone differently.
AE: Hopefully it will all clear up.
JL: If it doesn’t work out, I’m going to form my own organization. It’s called GAG – Gays Against GLAAD. [laughs]
UPDATE: AfterElton has since heard from GLAAD and they wished to share the following statement concerning the email exchange between GLAAD and Jeff Lewis’ reps.
“GLAAD offered a conversation with Jeff regarding complaints we received from several members of the transgender community. The email included an explanation about why some in the community were offended by comments he made. His PR reps replied to us and declined any action regarding his comments.”
Flipping Out kicks off Season 6 tonight at 9/8c on Bravo. The rest of our interview with Jeff Lewis will be posted at a future date.