AfterEllen Interviews Cristine Prosperi on Fimogen’s Future

Fiona and Imogen (better known as ‘Fimogen’) are arguably one of Degrassi’s most popular couples. One half of that power couple – Cristine Prosperi – recently did an interview with AfterEllen.com, discussing Fimogen as well as her experience playing a LGBT character on television.

In the interview, Cristine reveals that she was surprised, although “super comfortable” with playing Imogen after discovering that she would be dating Fiona. On Imogen’s sexuality, Cristine says that she thinks Imogen “just likes people in general,” but that she really likes Fiona and Imogen together. In particular, the fan reaction to the relationship has resonated with Cristine -

AE: Once the bisexual story started, what were you hearing from fans out there who were maybe experiencing the same thing in their lives?
CP: On Twitter, we get tons of mentions saying “I just came out to my parents. Thank you so much for helping me.” Also, “I feel more comfortable with my girlfriend” and “I feel more comfortable with my sexuality.” I get these all the time and it’s so refreshing and great that we get to connect with the fans that way because it’s so relatable. That’s the best part of being on the show, for sure.

Read the complete interview on AfterEllen.com.


Linda Schuyler & Stefan Brogren Address Degrassi Controversy

If you are a Degrassi fan, the name Florida Family Association should probably sound familiar. This conservative organization has been criticizing Degrassi for years because of the show’s many LGBT characters. They have lead various email campaigns in an attempt to get companies to stop advertising during episodes of Degrassi.

Degrassi producers Linda Schuyler and Stefan Brogren addressed the controversy in separate interviews this past week. A major storyline in season 12 involves a split along religious lines over LGBT issues. Many fans have speculated that this storyline is in response to the FFA.

On that topic, Stefan Brogren said, “The truth is, there’s a lot of kids out there who hold very deeply onto their faith, and that can cause problems within the teen community.” Degrassi seems committed to portraying the religious characters fairly (both of them are regulars), as opposed to instantly making them the “bad guy.” Of course, Degrassi will also continue giving storylines to Adam, one of the first teenage transgender characters in TV history. “It’s something that we wanted to address for a couple of years,” Stefan told The Toronto Star, “but we really didn’t know how. We didn’t know what the stats were. But we’ve become aware of how many young people are dealing with questions about their gender.”

Ultimately, it’s clear that the producers and writers are aware of the FFA controversy, but that only seems to make them more passionate about accurately portraying LGBT characters on the show. “We’re continuing to challenge people in their tolerance and understanding of sexual identity,” Linda Schuyler said in a recent interview. “[The FFA] have that narrow mindset, and then they say they are against bullying. It’s just insane. They were quite active, writing to our broadcasters, asking them to pull ads from our show. Fortunately, neither broadcaster responded.

Source:
Q&A: Degrassi producer Linda Schuyler on what to expect this school year
Degrassi, Then and Now


Chaz Bono to Make Cameo Appearance on Degrassi

Chaz Bono was in Toronto today to film with Jordan Todosey for an upcoming cameo appearance in Degrassi’s 12th season!

Chaz’s scene will be with Adam, in which he plays a judge on a battle of the bands type of contest involving Adam’s group. According to The National Post, Adam approaches him to talk about his struggles growing up as a transgender teen.

Chaz has always championed Degrassi’s inclusion of a transgender character, and he reportedly jumped at the chance to guest star on Degrassi after meeting the producers at the Emmy Awards. On the show’s impact, Chaz said: “There are a lot of trans kids and teens and to have representation of themselves really means a lot…At that age there wasn’t anything [for me]. I didn’t know about transgender people or that there was a possibility to transition or anything. And it made it really difficult to figure out what was going on with me.”

Chaz’s episode will likely air sometime this fall.

Media Coverage:
Chaz Bono to Guest Star on Degrassi – National Post
Chaz Bono in Toronto to Shoot Episode of Degrassi – Winnipeg Free Press
Chaz Bono to Play Himself on Degrassi – People
Chaz Bono in Toronto to Shoot Episode of Degrassi – Toronto.com (includes video)


Degrassi Cast at the GLAAD Awards

The GLAAD Media Awards took place in San Francisco this past weekend, and a few of our Degrassians were in attendance. Degrassi cast members Annie Clark and Jordan Todosey were there, along with Degrassi co-creator and executive producer Linda Schuyler. All three of them looked stunning as they posed for photos on the red carpet. During the ceremony, Degrassi lost the Outstanding Drama Series award to Grey’s Anatomy. Nonetheless, it’s clear that the entire Degrassi community has a lot to be proud of.

Check out photos of Annie, Jordy, and Linda in our gallery!


Xtra Interviews Annie Clark & Jordan Todosey


Xtra has posted a new interview with Annie Clark and Jordan Todosey discussing the LGBT storylines on Degrassi and their characters.

In the interview, they talk about the fan reaction to both Adam and Fiona’s storyline. And when asked about the recent controversy involving Ontario Catholic Schools trying to ban GSA’s, Annie and Jordan can’t believe that in this day and age this would still be an issue (we agree!!).


Degrassi Nominated for a GLAAD Media Award!

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Degrassi, as the show was just nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for the second year in a row! Degrassi is nominated in the “Outstanding Drama Series” category along with Pretty Little Liars, Shameless, Grey’s Anatomy, and Torchwood. Degrassi is receiving recognition for the various LBGT storylines on the show this past year, including fan favourites Adam and Fiona. As always, we couldn’t be more proud!

The GLAAD Media Awards are an annual event presented by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. They aim to celebrate and award the best images of the LGBT community in the media. This year, the Awards will be held in New York (March 24), Los Angeles (April 21), and San Francisco (June 2).

Degrassi has previously been nominated for 3 other GLAAD Awards. The first was in 2004 for Marco’s storyline. Paige and Alex’s relationship garnered Degrassi another GLAAD nomination in 2008. And last year, Degrassi was nominated for the show’s groundbreaking transgender character Adam.

Check out the other nominees in this video. Good luck to Degrassi!


Degrassi Stars Go Purple For Spirit Day

Today (October 20th) is the second annual Spirit Day, and this year several Degrassi cast members will be participating.

Spirit Day asks people all around the world to wear purple in support of LGBT youth and anti-bullying efforts. Annie Clark, Aislinn Paul, Jordan Todosey, and Melinda Shankar are just a few of the many Degrassi cast members who have tweeted about supporting this annual event. Jordan and Annie are even mentioned on GLAAD’s list of celebrity supporters.

From GLAAD’s own website:
Millions of Americans wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy — participants are asked to simply “go purple” on October 20 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.

For more information on how you can participate, check out http://glaad.org/spiritday! Remember to wear purple today & go purple on Twitter!


Linda Schuyler Wins the Bonham Centre Award

Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler can add another award to her impressive list of achievements. She was recently honoured with the Bonham Centre Award from the University of Toronto’s Mark S Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.

The award was presented to Linda yesterday along with Dustin Lance Black (screenwriter of Milk). The award recognizes individuals for their contributions to the development of sex education and sexual diversity in the public sphere. Past winners include sex educator Sue Johanson, who guest starred on Degrassi Junior High and TNG.

At the ceremony, Mark S. Bonham discussed Degrassi’s lasting influence on youth culture, stating: “Linda’s series was the first TV show with an adolescent cast and an adolescent audience .. And in a positive way, that shaped and educated this generation’s thinking and outlook on life.

Former Degrassi star Adamo Ruggiero was also on hand to describe how Linda and Degrassi changed his life: “I remember growing up in a Catholic school and being bullied,” Adamo said. “I was struggling with my own sexual identity when Linda plucked me from the suburbs of Toronto and gave me this beautiful gift of Marco.

Congratulations Linda!

Source.


Media Responses to the FFA Controversy

The FFA/Degrassi controversy is continuing to make headlines this week. Various media outlets have commented on the situation, showing their support for Degrassi, and giving their thoughts on why this is still an issue. The Much Music article in particular, written by Much contributor Allison, goes beyond the FFA controversy and discusses the impact Degrassi has had on generations of young people. Here is some of what Xtra, Perez Hilton, and even Much Music had to say.

Xtra: Conservative group slams transgender plot line
During the two-part transgender episode, the organization Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) ran a public-service announcement and an online educational program on its website.
All I can say is thank goodness that for every rightwing bigot out there, there is also someone with an open mind and a willingness to educate people on different lifestyles and the struggles that many of us go through.

Perez Hilton: Boo! Florida Family Association Boycotts Degrassi Due To Gay/Transgender Characters
We continue to thank you for supporting an important cause and helping spread awareness/understanding about gay and transgender issues, Teen Nick!
As for the Florida Family Association, we can only hope that one of these days they’ll come to their senses and realize that they’ve been acting out of ignorance. Such a shame!

Much Music: Sex, Drugs, and Degrassi: Why We Need To Keep The TV On
In its 30 years on air it would seem that Degrassi has covered every topic imaginable. From the death of parents to the death of classmates, domestic abuse, homelessness, bullying and more, it was difficult to believe that any waters had been left unchartered by the Epitome production company. That was until the tenth season of the new generation hit MuchMusic and Teen Nick last fall and viewers met Adam Torres, played by the brilliant Jordy Todosey, the first transgender character on youth programming. Suddenly, Degrassi was once again reminding viewers and critics why the longevity, praise and loyalty that had followed the little show from Toronto was more than warranted – Degrassi was and is the institution that gives a voice to the voiceless in mainstream media.
The outpouring of support and acceptance of Adam’s character has been undeniable. When the episode My Body is a Cage aired, viewers discovered that Adam had been born Gracie and transferred to Degrassi as a result of bullying received because of his transgender identity. On the MuchMusic website viewers expressed compassion and understanding for the teenage character, with many relieved to finally see their struggle identified by a character on TV.

How has Degrassi impacted your life? Is there one particular storyline that made you look at things differently? Can you relate to a particular character? Send your story to DegrassiTalks@gmail.com, and we’ll share some of our favourites.


Degrassi Boycotted by FFA; Author Sarah Dessen Responds

Yes, this is happening again Degrassians.

The Florida Family Associations‘ campaign against Degrassi has caught the attention of The Huffington Post as well as author Sarah Dessen.

The FFA continued its email campaign against Degrassi with an email blitz last Tuesday. Their main target is Adam’s storyline, in which “millions of young teens and children witness this irresponsible affirmation of a transgender lifestyle.” Once again, they are going after Degrassi’s advertisers. However, this time, they are clearly aware of the intense support from Degrassi fans. Choosing not to publically post articles, the FFA instead is simply emailing their supporters. They recently sent out an email which said: “Many large main stream companies have since stopped advertising on Degrassi. However, this article will not include the names of the dropped advertisers to prevent the very active proponents of Degrassi from launching a reverse email campaign as they did with Kodak and State Farm.”

This blatant promotion of intolerance, hate and ignorance has already caught the attention of the Huffington Post. They interviewed David Canton (the founder of the FFA) who said “How many high schools have a gay first-string quarterback who becomes lovers with someone else on the team? This relationship is extremely unlikely and they shouldn’t open this to dialogue … And I think that it is statistically improbable that you will have a female-to-male transgender who is in love with a lesbian or bisexual in a school setting.” Because apparently Degrassi is guilty of promoting acceptance and inclusion. Liz Owen, the Director of Communications for PFLAG offered support for Degrassi, telling THP that “the episode acknowledges that there are trans people out there and, due to bullying and harassment in a school setting, they really have a hard time … Our message boards got overwhelmingly positive feedback, from trans kids saying how much it helped them to kids saying that, while they didn’t have any transgender kids in their school, they would act positively if they did.

Best selling author Sarah Dessen also responded to the controversy, after she found herself a target of the protest. Apparently her publisher had bought advertising time during Degrassi, and Dessen suddenly discovered that she had 1,060 new emails. Despite the fact that Dessen has little control over where and when her ad airs, she found that many of these emails were personally attacking her. Dessen took to her blog to react, saying:

I will say this, though. I don’t watch Degrassi, it came along after my time. But I believe in equal rights for ALL people, regardless of race, sex, or sexual orientation. If that makes me “depraved” and “lacking integrity” (both things I have been accused of today, more than once) then, well, okay. I’ll take it. I was raised to stand by what I believe, and I believe in equality. You don’t have to agree with me. That’s what’s great about this world. But you don’t have to be nasty about it, either.

I encourage you all to read Sarah Dessen’s full blog entry on the controversy right here!

As Degrassi fans, we have all been influenced by the show in one way or another. Whether you’re life has been personally changed by a storyline, or you just enjoy Degrassi for the characters and the drama, we have all seen the impact that this show has had. Adam’s storyline, in particular, has been groundbreaking for teen television. Just like Marco paved the way for more gay characters on TV, I have no doubt that Adam will do the same for the transgender community. As young people, we have an obligation to stand up for our peers and fight for what we believe in. I hope that we can all take this for what it is. There is always going to be negativity in this world, but Degrassi fans will continue to move forward and support this amazing TV show.

I have no doubt that other media outlets will pick up on this soon. I will keep you guys updated, and edit this post as new information becomes available.

EDIT: Unsurprisingly, this story made it to Perez Hilton.