It’s a Minstrel Show, Folks.

My friend Lori posted some thoughts on the new season of Queer As Folk, and this caught my eye:

interesting – the showtime website has a question in the FAQ – “Which of the cast members are gay in real life?” Showtime’s answer: “Some of the actors are gay, and some of them are straight.” – not mentioning who’s who….i found a larry king interview with the cast, and it turns out only two of em, Randy Harrison and Peter Paige are truly fags…just seems a bit strange that there’s this huge queer show and only 2 of em are really gay… not good strange, not bad strange, just strange….

Here’s my two cents: it’s bad strange. I challenge you to go to any restaurant in Califor-ni-ay and not have your food served by a gay actor. There are thousands of them out there, if not hundreds of thousands. So it’s not just strange that 98% of all gay characters on TV and in the movies are played by straight actors, while the gay actors wait tables. It’s happening because of discrimination, for the same reason that Amos and Andy used to have black characters played by white people in black face. Because people aren’t comfortable knowing the the guy playing the gay role is actually gay. But it’s okay if it’s all pretend.

Case in point: Several years ago, Spin City has a gay male character kiss a straight male character as a joke. It got huge laughs, and played in prime time with no objections. That same night, Ellen Degeneres’ character kissed a straight female character as a joke. It did not get huge laughs. It was pushed back to a later time slot, and it got a parental advisory warning. What was the difference between the two? On Ellen, the actor playing the part was gay. On Spin City, the actor playing the gay character was straight.

Continue ReadingIt’s a Minstrel Show, Folks.

Will & Grace, Things Are Not Better for Gay People on Television

Despite the presence of gay characters on TV, there are still no openly gay actors on television, and that’s a problem. The real problem with Ellen wasn’t that her character was gay, or that there were too many gay themed shows, as some people claimed.

It was that Ellen Degeneres, not the character Ellen Morgan, was gay. During the debate over ratings and issues that surrounded the cancellation of her show, the example that proves that point, the real reason the show was no longer on the air, got overlooked.

During Ellen’s last season, there was an evening in which Ellen show aired at 9 p.m. Airing that same night at 8 p.m. there was an episode of Spin City. On that show, the gay character Carter, (played by a heterosexual man) kisses the heterosexual character Mike Flaherty as a joke. The fact that it happened was practially ignored, except that it aired as the promo for the show for days before hand.

That same evening on Ellen at 9 p.m., Ellen Morgan, a gay character, kisses her heterosexual friend Paige as a joke. Not only was it a big deal, it was given a warning prior to the show, and was universally criticized afterwards.

What was the difference between the two events? Both featured a gay character kissing a straight character in a romantic way, but as a joke. The only difference was that one of the real-life actors in the second show was gay in real life.

Continue ReadingWill & Grace, Things Are Not Better for Gay People on Television