Scroll To Top

A PBS Employee Eviscerated A Homophobe Angry Over Arthur's Gay Wedding

A PBS Employee Eviscerated A Homophobe Angry Over Arthur's Gay Wedding

A PBS Employee Eviscerated A Homophobe Angry Over Arthur's Gay Wedding

"I don't get paid to put up with harassment."


Mr. Ratburn's gay wedding damn near broke the internet yesterday, but one PBS employee refused to let the backlash break him. 

This past weekend on the Season 22 premiere of the iconic PBS animated series Arthur, our beloved teacher Mr. Ratburn got married to his partner in front of the whole gang (Arthur, Buster, Muffy, Francine, Brian, and the rest), and the moment has brought some sweet and satisfying nostalgia, as well as LGBTQ+ representation, back into the lives of many millennials who grew up watching the show. 

Unfortunately, not everyone thought so. Tobias, an openly gay PBS worker who equally stans Beyoncé and Animorphs, was on the receiving end of some homophobic backlash. Early this morning, he received a phone call from a woman who firmly believed that gays "should burn."

But don't worry, his clap-back was EVERYTHING.

Tobias (not his real name by the way) relayed the story to PRIDE through Twitter DMs, and it's just as hilarious as he is.

PRIDE: What is your position at PBS?

Tobias: I work in our membership and viewer services department. My job is to basically take calls from viewers and make money.

Did y'all know the Arthur episode was coming? 

Oh yes absolutely, about a month ago. I've been sitting on a gay rat-sized secret since then haha. *RPDR AS3 "Sitting on a Secret" plays*

Was PBS like, "Hey this is happening, so mentally prepare for the callers"?

PBS tends to be very thoughtful when it comes to planning for programming. Every PBS station is independent, so it's important to remember that our market is in the midwest. 

Happens all the time re: LGBT issues, abortion, etc. We had a program about like trans teens' lives if memory serves—it was like 2 years ago, right after I had started—and I literally listened to a lady tell me that the gays are telepaths that are putting dangerous impulses or some BS like that in people's heads for about 20 minutes.

People here are just like that. For the most part, it's just a very vocal minority that call/email in about issues like this. But the problem is that the people who are for it don't pick up the phone to call.

What did the caller say? 

My job is to take feedback about our programs. I dutifully took her feedback about a gay relationship being portrayed on Arthur.

HOWEVER, once she started talking about homosexuality in a general, "I think it's wrong and they should burn" kind of way, I told her that I had taken her feedback about Arthur and that I would not be accepting any feedback about homosexuality. And then hung up.

LMAO. I'm actually cackling.

It's a hard line to toe when your politics/personal beliefs/just like whole damn person don't line up with an angry caller's. But I'm a professional. I will put up with it when it's relevant to my position, but I don't get paid to put up with harassment.

And just to be clear, our station is very gay-friendly and I only felt comfortable respectfully hanging up on her because I was confident I'd have my boss' support. I do not feel like I work in a hostile environment AT ALL. It's just that, as you'd expect, working at a TV station means that you'll get some topical flare-ups from time to time.

Any kind of customer service tbh! And you handled that much better than I would have.

Today might be a bad day, but that doesn't make this a bad job, you know? Haha, dude, it was literally my first caller of the day too, like 9:06am.

See, I would've been ready to fight. What happened when she called back? I'm imaging a "Can I speak to your manager?" huff.

Our manager's out today though, so somebody else in the department (straight cis lady) took the call and just like nodded and said "I hear you, I'm writing this down," until the caller ran out of steam.

An ally! Have you watched the Arthur episode? What did you think of the rat wedding?

I haven't watched the full episode YET but I saw the wedding and honestly wasn't surprised at all with the level of care that the team put into it.

Arthur is just so good and it's one of the best shows for normalizing and explaining some of the more marginalized human experiences for children. They've done stuff for PTSD, autism, mental health, etc. So seeing these lil' animal kiddos attend their teacher's wedding and the only thing they have to make fun of was his dancing? It just felt like a step further than the gay spectacle of a show like Glee or something.

It was a relatively boring wedding—and I say this with so much excitement because it just WAS. Like no need for the "Wow! A boy can love a boy!" posturing, it just showed a healthy adult relationship between two cartoon mammals on their wedding day.

It was boring which made it so sweet! The kids freaking out over them dancing literally made me tear up.

Right???? Like I remember a time when the kids' dialogue would have been "So wait? is that his brother?" And I'm only 26! I'm speaking like I lived through the Great Depression or something but, in reality, it was only 10 years ago. So when I think about this one raggedy bitch caller who made my morning hell, I also think about all the young kids who might not know they're like me yet getting their buckets filled with images of two men (or rats WHATEVER) just like...being in love and not having to explain that.

And that's why I love working at a PBS station. We serve some of the most vulnerable populations in America. Our programming actually makes a DIFFERENCE in people's lives.

That magic far outweighs any nasty call I've ever gotten.

Banner Image OneOut Magazine - Fellow Travelers

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories