LI Radio DJ’s Hoax Listeners with Story About Homophobic Mom
Two Long Island radio DJs — Steve Harper and Leana Karlson — from K-98.3 FM allegedly attempted to provoke a lively discussion when they recently went on the air and told listeners about a local mom who refused to let her son attend the birthday party of a seven-year-old girl (“Sophia”) because Sophia’s parents were gay and that she did not approve of their “lifestyle.”
The story went viral and was picked up by social media and TV outlets across the country, sparking outrage over the mom’s homophobic reaction and support for Sophia and her two dads. In response to the incident, The Long Island GLBT Network (The Network) reached out to the station to contact the dads and arrange for a birthday party for Sophia and other children of GLBT parents, when it was revealed that the story was a hoax.
K-98.3 FM and its parent company Connoisseur Media were immediately under fire for the hoax, issued a public apology, suspended the two DJs and contacted The Network to open up a dialogue about the situation.
In a joint statement issued to the media, the DJs stated, “We were attempting to spur a healthy discourse on a highly passionate topic, but we made a mistake by misleading our listeners into thinking that this specific situation actually existed.”
“What’s sad and disturbing about this incident is that there was no need to make up Sophia’s story,” said Dr. David Kilmnick, Chief Executive Officer of The Network. “We unfortunately could have shared with them dozens of stories of little Sophias out there. We hear real stories just like this from families all across Long Island every day.”
After meeting with station management on several occasions, and also with the two DJs for three hours, Kilmnick says, “I do believe there was no malice; they made a poor and stupid choice to go about talking about a subject that is important to them for personal reasons. We continued our conversations with Steve, Leanna, station management and the greater public in a real and honest way. This unfortunate incident provided us with an opportunity to do something positive and educate the masses about the needs of same-sex families and their children.”
The Network Continues to Expand Further on East End
The Long Island GLBT Network (The Network) continues to expand its presence on the East End of Long Island with two new full-time hires at its Hamptons GLBT Center in Sag Harbor.
Manny Velásquez-Paredes and Lilianne (Lili) Ogeka have recently been named the Hampton’s Center Program Manager and the Hampton’s Center Program Assistant, respectively, and have been charged with increasing services and programs for the East End’s GLBT community.
Now, with the new staff in place, The Center can remain open full time, grow its youth and senior services, and continue to prepare for more outreach and visibility within the community on the East End.
“The Network is extremely pleased to welcome Manny and Lili to its organization. In their new roles, they will help lead the strategic direction of our Hampton’s Center and expand our many programs and services in health, advocacy, education and more, and strengthen even further our ties with the community and encourage overall growth on the East End,” said Dr. David Kilmnick, Chief Executive Officer of The Network.
The Hamptons GLBT Center, located within Old Whaler’s Church in Sag Harbor village, held its grand opening on August 10, 2013 with a goal of offering easier access to the Network’s programs for East End youth, who up until its opening, had to travel 120 miles round-trip to Bay Shore. The Hamptons GLBT Center will also offer programs and activities year round for seniors, adults and families.
LIGALY Gets Loud for Day of Silence
With hundreds of thousands of students across the world taking a vow of silence every April in recognition of the national movement, Day of Silence, Long Island
Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) will also end the day in its own tradition, with a big block party “Night of Noise.”
The event draws more than 100 youth helping to break down a “wall of hate” at the Long Island GLBT Community Center in Bay Shore on Friday, April 11, 2014, from 6pm–10pm.
For more information, visit www.ligaly.org or call the Center at Bay Shore at 631.665.2300