Tuesday, 25 September 2007

I want my Gay TV!

I was reading through some of the news stories on The Hollywood Reporter and I read the following blurb:

”The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender series regular characters on scripted network TV has declined for a third straight year, according to the annual ''Where We Are on TV'' study by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Bonnie Somerville's bisexual Caitlin Dowd on ABC's drama Cashmere Mafia is the only non-heterosexual character being introduced in this fall's new batch of shows. There are a total of seven series regular LGBT characters, or 1.1 percent, on the five broadcast networks this season, down from nine last season. Six of the seven series are on ABC: Brothers & Sisters, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, and Mafia. The seventh regular LGBT character is Oscar Martinez on NBC's The Office. On the flipside, LGBT representation on mainstream cable networks jumped to 57 characters this year, including 40 series regular characters, up from a total of 35 (regular and recurring) last year.”

Are we really surprised? In main stream American media they try to pretend we (the gay community) do not exist. I mean across the pond gay cops are nothing new, nothing to bat an eyelid at. Most of the most popular TV shows in the UK have gay characters. All reality shows seem to fly the rainbow flag with pride, but not in the U.S.
Why is this?
Why can there not be a gay investigator on C.S.I.?
Gay men do not just have to be flower arrangers, decorators, beauticians, hair dressers, or fashion hopefuls. We can be cops, business men, out door enthusiasts, spy’s, hit men and even politicians.

Look at Captain Jack on “Torchwood”. He is gay, tough, sexy and hardly a musical number or fabric sample book in sight. In fact most of the characters on “Torchwood” are bi/curious (well the men anyway).
So refreshing to see it played out, especially in the very casual way it is approached. It is almost like this small “Dr. Who” spin off is trying something new and refreshing by “presenting sexuality other than heterosexual as normal. It is almost as though homophobia and sexual ignorance does not exist in Cardiff and people are left alone to love and lust after who ever they want. (if I thought that was actually true I would so move)

Sure there are very gay friendly places in the world. In America it is the coasts (the largest part however, the middle, is not). In England it is London and Brighton.
Then there is Europe which is pretty gay friendly all over – remember that scene in “Madonna: Truth or Dare” when the tour goes to Europe and that ‘weight’ is lifted after leaving the U.S.? Everone is happy and gay and having a ball? Well it is pretty much like that most of the time.
However the middle east and the soviet bring us back to the reality of the world.

Back to "Torchwood" check out this clip from the pilot episode.


We are normal, even in mainstream UK television.

As much as I loved “Queer as Folk” and “The L Word” is still longed for a real representation of what life is. We all mingle with straight men and women all the time. Gay men and gay women are (gasp…horror) friends in real life.

The reason I am thinking about this now is I have been watching, for the first time “My So Called Life”.
How refreshing it is to see a gay character in a high school show, who is not a whimpering sissy, and not being the victim of bullying.
Did I mention this was a U.S. TV show in the early 90’s?
It seems that gay men and women made such great strides in the media up until around 2000/2001, then everything went pear shaped and down hill.
Wasn’t it around this time that a certain right winged performing monkey became president?

Dorothy sang, and we took as an anthem, “Over the Rainbow”. I think you need to head a little bit higher darling.


Jose said...

It's sad, but then again I'd rather not have gay characters at all, than to see them all be awful stereotypes like the ones in "Queer as Folk" and "Ugly Betty"

Michael Parsons said...

I know...but Marc does make me laugh.
Gotta love the brits eh?

Anonymous said...

hey, i too purchased the complete season of My so-called-life this week. i remembered it from TV in the nineties and also remember the public being horrified that it was cancelled. it began a string of cancellations of some of televisons best work...i'm now waiting for the short lived but brilliant 'I'll Fly Away' to come to DVD.

I can't wait to get home tonight to watch more episodes of My So-Called-Life...the beauty and the emotional punch the the young actors and that connection to a young gay character...may we never forget...