April 27, 2017

30+ Yrs of Gay Characters, We No Longer Play Second to the Star

Ellen Morgan wasn't the first gay character on TV, but her coming out on the ABC sitcom Ellen, following star Ellen DeGeneres' own declaration — "Yep, I'm gay" — on the cover of Time magazine, opened the door to portraying them more openly and more often. A list of some of TV's more important gay characters, before and after Ellen: 
Bewitched: Paul Lynde plays Uncle Arthur, who wasn't gay then — but probably would be now. (1965)
All In the Family: Archie’s friend Steve (Philip Carey) shocks him by telling him he's gay. (1971)
The Corner Bar:  Vincent Schiavelli plays flamboyant set designer Peter Panama, who is considered TV's first recurring gay character. (1972)
Soap: Jodie Dallas (Billy Crystal) becomes TV's first openly gay main character. (1977)

Love, Sidney: Tony Randall as a confirmed bachelor who was gay in the TV movie Sidney Shorr: A Girl's Best Friend , but whose sexuality became ambiguous in the follow-up TV series. (1981)
thirtysomething: Lovers Russell (David Marshall Grant) and Peter (Peter Frechette) are shown in bed together — but don't touch. (1989)
Melrose Place: Matt Fielding (Doug Savant), who's gay, is the only person on this sexy soap opera who never seemed to have sex. (1992)
Friends: Susan (Jessica Hecht) and Carol (Jane Sibbett) wed in “The One with the Lesbian Wedding.” (1996)
Will & Grace: Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes are gay friends in this landmark sitcom — the first big hit with a gay title character. (1996)


Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow and Tara (Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson) become an open, sympathetically drawn lesbian couple, a first for a teen-targeted series. (1999)
Queer as Folk: Gale Harold's Brian and Randy Harrison's Justin are among the more prominent characters in this Showtime series about gay men in Pittsburgh, adapted from a (much better) British series. (2000)
Six Feet Under: Michael C. Hall co-stars as David, the gay brother who eventually finds love and happiness. (2001)
The Wire: Michael Kenneth Williams plays Omar, a tough street criminal who breaks many of TV's gay stereotypes. (2002)

The L Word: Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) is among the L-people in Showtime's female answer to Queer as Folk. (2004)
Torchwood: John Barrowman is the dashing Captain Jack Harkness in this Doctor Who spin-off. (2006)
Brothers and Sisters: Not only are Kevin and Scotty (Matthew Rhys and Luke Macfarlane) a couple, they may have been this ABC family drama's most functional one. (2006)
True Blood: What true True Blood fan didn't love Nelsan Ellis's Lafayette or root for his happiness? (2008)
Grey’s Anatomy: Callie Torres (Sarah Ramirez), one of TV's rare bisexuals, enters into a long-term relationship with Arizona (Jessica Capshaw). (2009)
Glee: Chris Colfer is Kurt, one of TV's first well-adjusted, openly gay teenagers. (2009)

Modern Family: With Mitch and Cam (Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet), no show has ever done more to fully incorporate a gay couple into a family story and normalize their relationship and, later, marriage. (2009)
Orange Is the New Black: At one time, lesbians in prison would have been used for horror and shock. Not anymore. (2013)
Scandal: VP-elect Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) is as crazed, corrupt and sexually active as everyone else in this melodrama, which counts as progress. (2013)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Andre Braugher is the justifiably beloved commanding officer Ray Holt on Fox's cop sitcom. (2013)


How to Get Away With Murder: Gay law student Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) has gotten away with murder and then some on this mystery. (2014)
London Spy: Danny's (Ben Whishaw) faith in Alex's (Edward Holcroft) love saves him in this British spy drama. (2015)
American Gods: If your complaint is that TV generally removes the "sex" from "homosexual," you won't be complaining about American Gods' Jinn (Mousa Kraish). (2017)
, USA TODAY

1 comment:

Frederick Wright said...

How about Carter Heywood from Spin City? An openly, proudly, gay black character who shattered stereotypes of BOTH minorities.

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