Showing posts with label Gay TV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay TV. Show all posts

November 11, 2019

Representation of LGBT Characters on TV Are at on All Time High, But Let's Not Celebrate Yet!


You could forgive Glaad, the media advocacy group for LGBT people if it decided to do a victory lap this year.
Among scripted characters on prime-time TV shows this season, more than 10% were LGBT—and a majority of those were women or people of color. Estimates of the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBT vary from 4.5% of the population to as much as 12%, according to Glaad’s recent data, meaning that certain subsets of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are now more common on screen than in real life. But in Glaad’s data, about twice as many millennials, people aged 18 to 34, identify as LGBT compared with the general population, so the group is pushing the TV industry to more than double by 2025 the record level set this year, said Mathew Lasky, director of communications for Glaad, formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. It released its latest data on Thursday. 
“As those people age, we want them to see themselves reflected authentically in the television that they’re seeing,” Lasky said in a telephone interview. 

🏳️‍🌈 @glaad released its annual "Where We Are on TV" report, forecasting the presence of LGBTQ characters in original scripted series between June 2019 and May 2020.

The study found that only 10% of regular characters in scripted primetime broadcast series were LGBTQ

21 people are talking about this
Progress on television matches gains in society, where gay marriage has been legal since 2015 and acceptance is generally growing. The share of Americans who support gay marriage overall rose to 61% this year, with 31% opposing it, near the highest support since Pew Research began polling on the topic. As recently as 2004, 60% of Americans opposed gay married, Pew found.

As we see more LGBT people on TV, that doesn't mean advocates' fight for representation is over. Delta Airlines was criticized last month after reports that the airline was broadcasting programming on its flights that cut out scenes showed LGBT kissing, same-sex love scenes and other depictions of LGBT sexuality. Delta has since said the decision to air the edited versions was an error, and it is re-instating theatrical versions of movies that retain LGBT content.
A Harris poll released this year in cooperation with Glaad indicated that the percentage of non-LGBTQ millennials who favor gay rights fell to 45% in 2018 from 63% as recently as 2016. More of those same respondents reported being uncomfortable in situations such as learning a family member, teacher or doctor is LGBTQ.
“We know that young people are affected by the culture and the world around them,” Lasky said, citing what LGBT advocates see as hostility from the Trump administration and his supporters. “To us, it’s almost surprising that it hasn’t eroded more.”
Glaad research associate Raina Deerwater said in an interview that the on-screen representation is not just a way for LGBT people to see themselves being accepted by society, but also a foundation for changing hearts and minds of others.
“There have been several studies that show that if somebody doesn't know an LGBTQ person,” she said, “the next best thing is television.”

September 26, 2019

John Van Ness Reason for Writing About His Life Trauma and Overcoming It

                               Jonathan Van Ness, 2018-04.jpg

Jonathan Van Ness stepped into the spotlight in 2018 as a walking, talking bundle of energy, optimism, and positivity as the grooming expert on Queer Eye, the Netflix reboot of the reality series. His bubbly, uplifting presence captured viewers' attention, whether Van Ness was on-screen or on Instagram.
In his new memoir, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, Van Ness acknowledges his life hasn't always been this way. He maps the sometimes-difficult road that led him to where he is now — one that included childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend, depression, drug use, sexual compulsion and being diagnosed HIV-positive. 
Van Ness spoke to Sam Sanders about why he decided to write about all the challenges, how he's dealt (and is dealing) with hardship, how Queer Eye changed his life and why he loves Sister Act 2
Interview Highlights
On his relationship with his stepdad, Steve
I think he is probably one of the most important and formative people of my life. When someone takes you on as their own when you're not biologically their own, I think is really special. Steve didn't have to raise me — like, he wanted to. I don't even know who I would be if not for my relationship with him because of how he really kind of showed me the ability of people to heal, and that your past doesn't have to be your future. He was an incredible teacher.
On deciding to share his difficult past in Over the Top
Having Queer Eye become a success and giving me the platform it's given me, the desire for me to want to share about my experiences in those realms became stronger over time. There are so many young people that are struggling with what I struggled with, and my way is not the way or the most gorgeous way, and it's definitely had its down points. But I think the point of the book is that no matter how far off course you have gotten, no matter how fucked up you feel, there is a way to get to a life that is fulfilling and sustainable and that you feel good about.
On using meth and dealing with sexual compulsion
In my early 20s, I developed a sexual compulsivity that I think was pretty directly linked to the abuse and the secrecy around my abuse. And coming into a high-stress job and being very young, that was where the pressure showed itself. And in that time, meth is a very common and not-very-much-talked-about drug that is both abused in homosexual circles but also heterosexual circles. It is a very pervasive, wide-ranging problem that ruins people's lives all the time in very high numbers that we just don't talk about as much.
But I definitely was not someone who was doing meth on a daily basis. I was someone who would have weeks of the time of not doing it, and then I would do it for like two days, and then I would have more weeks of not. Not all people that are abusing meth look like people on the billboards that you would think about.
I was introduced to meth not from me finding it, but from going home with someone who was doing it and not really putting two and two together. That's another insidious piece of it. I definitely never saw myself as someone who would ever do meth.
People do things when they've been through things, that you just don't know you would ever do that. Watching my stepdad lose his battle to cancer and dying in our living room in hospice care at 25 years old, that fucked me right on up.
On the response to Queer Eye and the spotlight on him
I am happy, and I never could have seen how much success Queer Eye would have. I believe in myself, and I believe in the book, and I believe in everything Queer Eye has done, but I'm super-fucking uncomfortable. You know what? I'm scared.
This episode was produced by Anjuli Sastry and edited by Alexander McCall. It was adapted for the Web by Alexander McCall.

September 16, 2019

WasThomas Barrow on "Downton Abbey" Correctly Portrayed As a Gay Man Of That Era?


Fifty-seven minutes into the first episode of Downton Abbey, the fastidious, sharp-featured footman Thomas Barrow makes his move, confronting his erstwhile summer lover—the impoverished (but entitled) Duke of Crowborough—with epistolary evidence of their affair. Barrow has all the coiled menace of a spiteful child, a weak sort of strength that only kicks when you’re down.
The Duke, on the other hand, is louche and unctuous, the human personification of privilege lounging in a fabulous dressing gown. Their short tete-a-tete is a gem of a scene, their body language forecasting the inevitable: the attempted blackmail fails, and three minutes later, Barrow watches his letters burn, taking with them his imagined future as the Duke’s valet and lover. 
It’s a bold move—for Barrow, sure, but more so for Downton Abbey. With one short scene, creator Julian Fellowes made a declaration: the love that dare not speak its name would be given a voice here. Goodbye to veiled intimations and Significant Looks; goodbye to fusty, dusty “confirmed bachelors” and “spinster” aunts; goodbye to the historical closet and your mother’s Masterpiece Theatre
Hello to the future of the gay past.

“I think what we've done with Thomas in the story is tried to reflect how scary it was,” says Alastair Bruce, who worked as the historical advisor to the show, and is reprising that role with the new Downton movie, in theaters September 20. In the film, audiences will see Barrow in the context of a wider gay world for the first time: visiting a secret gay bar, dodging police harassment, and possibly even finding love. 
It’s an exciting tale set in an exciting period. The post-Edwardian moment—Downton Abbey opens in 1912, with news of the sinking of the Titanic; the movie takes the story all the way up to 1927—was an era of tremendous upheaval in Western culture. World War I was still “the war to end all wars,” the Roaring Twenties were ratcheting up to the Great Depression, and the last vestiges of Victorianism were being thrown out the Overton window. A rejection of the past was so fundamental to this period that we still refer to the artistic flourishing of this moment as “Modernism,” despite it now being 100 years ago. 
Clapham And Dwyer
All of them, that is, except for Thomas Barrow. Barrow is instantly recognizable as a modern gay man, even if he never quite uses those words. From isolation to conversion therapy, his struggles are our struggles, just in period drag.  On the one hand, this feels like an elaboration of that famous gay liberation slogan “we are everywhere,” expanding it to be “we were everywhere” also. On the other hand, it seems to remove sexuality from the domain of history entirely, suggesting that the experience of being gay has always been the same, no matter the place or period. This helps to explain why, after such a strong start, Barrow’s storyline in Downton Abbey largely fizzles out: he has nowhere to develop. While everyone else in the show becomes, Barrow already is.
The question for queer Downton Abbey fans, then, is this: Is Thomas an accurate unveiling of historical homosexuality, hidden but fully formed, just waiting for us to notice his existence? Or is he a backward projection of our current idea of what it means to be gay, an anachronism disguised as a revelation?
The most obvious point of reference for Barrow’s character can be found in E. M Forster’s Maurice. Forster, born on New Year’s Day, 1879, documented the emergence of modern England through the foibles and failures of those that lived (like Forster himself) on the outskirts of the upper-class.
Maurice Hugh GrantMaurice, his most autobiographical book, was written in 1914. It follows its titular protagonist, Maurice Hall—“a mediocre member of a mediocre school”—as he discovers his desires for other men. After an abortive and agonizing affair with a fellow student from his own upper-class milieu, Hall meets Alec Scudder on a visit to his ex’s estate. The affair between Scudder and Hall races forward, moving quickly through break-up and blackmail before delivering the happy ending that was Forster’s raison d’etre for writing the book in the first place. Like Thomas Barrow, Alec Scudder seems preternaturally gay, fully aware of his sexual desires, that they are exclusively for men, and that they mark him, irrevocably, as a different sort of person.  
On the surface, this feels like incontrovertible proof of Downton’s historical accuracy. But when Forster wrote Maurice, he’d never had a relationship with another man, and he wouldn’t until midway through World War I, when he was 38 years old. “He imagined these things well before he experienced them,” agreed Moffatt, Forster’s biographer. Yet the book is often used as period research.  
“It’s much easier just to look at some medical texts and maybe some literary ones, rather than do the difficult task of working out what people really thought,” said Professor Alison Oram, who led the initiative Pride of Place: England’s LGBTQ Heritage, which documented queer historical spaces for the British government. 
In particular, literary research can substitute the experiences of the upper class for those of all people. In the post-Edwardian period, upper-class men were more likely to already understand the world in terms of heterosexuals and homosexuals, with a bright and absolute line dividing the two. But for working-class men like Thomas Barrow, same-sex desire didn’t necessarily preclude having an otherwise “normal” existence, often including relationships with women.  
E.M. Forster
When Forster himself did, finally, embark upon a sexual relationship, it was with an Egyptian man named Mohammed el-Adl. Like Alec Scudder and Thomas Barrow, el-Adl was young and working class. But whereas Scudder and Barrow seemed to think of themselves as gay, el-Adl experienced his desire for men differently. He was worried about being caught but didn’t have the kind of existential, what-does-this-mean-about-my-identity crisis that we in the West associate with same-sex behavior. Soon after he and Forster met, el-Adl married a woman (for whom he had romantic feelings), but it didn’t curtail his relationship with Forster. 
Forster was keen to get al-Adl to understand sexuality, and sexual orientation, in the same way that he did: An unconscious extension of the broader colonial project of reshaping the world in the image of (aristocratic) England. Over time, British customs would obscure and eventually replace the thousand years of Middle Eastern history celebrating (some kinds) of sex between men, another example of “modernity” being born in this period. 
But while El-Adl’s desires might have seemed strange to Forster, they would have been fairly recognizable to another group: working-class Brits. In the post-Edwardian period, “there could be greater accommodation of same-sex desires and same-sex acts in working-class communities,” says Professor Justin Bengry, a cultural historian of queer sexuality in England. 
The Labouchere amendment of 1885 made “gross indecency”—a.k.a. sex between men—a crime, and was used to prosecute Oscar Wilde. It was a forerunner to the kinds of police repression that Barrow encounters in the new Downton movie. But in popular understanding, being a “criminal pervert” wasn’t necessarily about the sex you were having. It was about how well you lived up to the expectations of your gender, if you wanted a married life, and if you were otherwise respectable. 
Shaken Not StirredThe most highly visible queer people in this period would have been those who openly defied gender norms. Even when it came to the prosecution of Wilde, much was made about his aesthetic and dandified existence, which mocked traditional manhood. 
But for masculine, working-class men, wanting sex with men “didn’t necessarily question their sense of themselves as virile or ‘normal,’” said Dr. Bengry. According to historian Matt Houlbrook’s Queer London, this is the “central difference between the sexual landscape of interwar London and the present day.” 
To a 21st century ear, this might sound surprising. But we have to remember the context in which these men were raised. The Victorian world was cleft in twain, with men on one side, and women on the other. The divide between them was imagined as vast and almost insurmountable. Outside of their immediate families, men were expected to spend most of their time with other men; women, with other women. Romantic and intense same-sex friendships were de rigueur. Heterosexual marriage obviously had sexual dimensions, but it was also a deeply practical institution, the main unit of economic production in the country, and the only insurance against the vagaries of old age. 
As Victorian ideals receded from dominance—as cross-gender friendships became more common, as marriage became more companionate, as urbanism and greater social mobility created economic possibilities outside the family—the men and women who still had intense friendships and bloodless marriages began to seem strange. Increasingly, sexologists, politicians, and writers began to promulgate the idea that these behaviors were signifiers of homosexuality, to be surveilled and curtailed. 
Literary Garden Party

Forster never did edit Maurice, however, and his hard-won knowledge of the complexities of the human heart (amongst other organs) died with him. As decades passed, the neat fiction of binary sexuality became broadly acknowledged “truth,” leaving less and less space for middle-dwelling, working-class men like Buckingham and el-Adl.
From an earlier and earlier age, people would be taught—in streets as much as in schools—that homosexuals existed, that they were unlike other men and that any apparent “middle ground” was actually a slippery slope headed straight to hell. 

All of which brings us back to Thomas Barrow and the new Downton Abbey movie. Barrow might have been an implausible outlier at the beginning of the show in 1912, but by the 1950s, working-class men who identified as homosexual were thronging the streets of London. We may never get to see that learning process happens for Barrow (unless there’s a Downton Abbey sequel planned; fingers crossed), but at long last, in the new film, we’ll get to see a world in which it could.

November 3, 2018

For a Quiet Saturday..maybe? How About TV and a New Gay Character? Levi, Jake Borelli Comes Out on Grey's Anatomy

As Dr. Levi Schmitt, a.k.a. “Glasses” on Grey’s AnatomyJake Borelli is a part of life-changing moments on a weekly basis. When showrunner Krista Vernoff called this summer to say Levi would be part of the first gay male romance on the ABC hit drama, he didn’t expect to find himself facing his own life-altering decision. As his character made major realizations about his sexuality on network TV, would he continue to keep his own sexuality private?
Borelli, who has been out to his friends and family for nearly a decade, immediately called his parents to talk it through. “My dad said, ‘When you have a truth about yourself and you finally have the courage to speak up and share that truth, a weight gets lifted,’” Borelli tells EW. “I knew in that moment this is the right thing to do. This is bigger than me.” 
On Thursday night, immediately following the West Coast airing of Grey’s and Levi’s own coming out, Borelli took to Instagram to tell the world he is gay. He wrote, “As a gay guy myself, tonight’s episode was so special to me.”
Growing up in Ohio, Borelli says this type of storyline is what he hungered to see on television, staying up late to watch Degrassi: The Next Generation. “I finally felt seen and understood from a piece of art,” he explains. He noticed a similar response from fans over the last few weeks as it seemed like Levi was headed for a potential romantic connection with Nico (Alex Landi). “I’ve had so many comments from fans of the show who are finally feeling seen by this story, and I just want to let them know that I feel seen too,” he says. “I’m right here with you and we’re all in this together.” 
A storyline like this is something Borelli hardly dared dream of when he first started acting -– being able to be a source of authenticity and representation for the LGBTQ community. “I get a chance to act in a storyline I would have craved when I was younger,” he says. “I feel so connected to the character, and I’m super excited to go into work every day and bring this storyline to life.”
Part of what makes Borelli so excited (and helped him to feel secure in his decision to open up about his private life) is how closely Vernoff and the writers worked with him to handle the story sensitively. He says he was very excited when he got the call. “She pitched the story to me and said how much she wanted Levi to be the character to tell this story, the coming out in your mid-twenties story. She expressed how much she wanted me to be the actor to tell it,” he recalls.n
Vernoff tells EW that the idea for this storyline actually came not from a place of wanting to do a gay romance, but rather trying to find a new, compelling arc for Borelli. “Jake is an incredible actor and the more we wrote for him, the more we wanted to write for him,” she says. “Jake has fallen in as many different ways that he can fall. He is delightful and we want to see him change and evolve and where would that begin?”
Vernoff remembered a friend of hers from college who was a klutz until he came out at the end of their freshman year. “[He] emerged as a completely different human being because he was living in his truth,” she reflects. “Living in his truth seemed to set something free in him where he was no longer tripping over his own feet. He emerged with strength and power and sex appeal that had not existed in him publicly prior and when I remembered my friend, I wanted to tell that story with Jake because it felt like a really beautiful way to evolve his character.”
Image result for borelli grey's anatomy kiss
Borelli says he talked at length with Vernoff about Levi’s arc and the “stories [he] wants to perpetuate and put out there into the universe.” In a pre-season meeting, they hashed out Levi’s own understanding of his sexuality prior to meeting Nico and discussed whether the character was out to himself, developing a backstory based partly in Borelli’s own experiences. “I’ve known that I was gay since I was very young, 8th or 9th grade, and I came out to myself around that time. The back and forth that Levi’s feeling right now and this confusion with all these new emotions he’s feeling [is] something I had at a much younger age,” Borelli explains. “He is coming to terms with his sexuality. He’s learning about his sexuality for the first time. He’s a little bit of a late bloomer.” 
The show has played host to key LGBTQ moments on television before, notably with Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw). But before Arizona and Callie’s romance, there was also Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) whose speech about “leaves” and Callie being her “glasses” inspired many a coming-out metaphor. Levi gets a similar moment in this week’s episode, explaining in the aftermath of his kiss with Nico how moving from general surgery to orthopedic surgery (Nico’s specialty) has been a clarifying moment for him. 
“In his own way, it’s how he feels comfortable saying, ‘I’m gay,’” says Borelli. “With my own coming out process and with a lot of other people’s coming out process, sometimes it’s really hard to find the words. It’s a lot easier to explain it through metaphor and through how it feels. He’s a surgeon through and through, so it’s much easier for him to explain it in surgery terms.”
Borelli says this moment on Grey’s Anatomy and his concurrent coming out feels like a “testament” to the progress LGBTQ representation has made on television and the world at large. A decade ago, former Grey’s Anatomy star T.R. Knight came out under intense media scrutiny and pressure in the wake of a scandalinvolving co-star Isaiah Washington using a gay slur on set. In contrast, Borelli, whose character ironically has been compared to Knight’s George by fans and Meredith Grey alike, gets to come out on his own terms. 
“I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time that had Grey’s Anatomy as a show and had shows like Glee and Will and Grace,” says Borelli. “I had all these giant, iconic television shows telling me that it’s ok to be gay, it’s ok to be out, and growing up in that environment for the last 10 years had made it a little bit more of a welcoming environment for me to come out right now.”
In spite of that, talking to EW hours before going public with the news, Borelli admits feeling vulnerable. “As a gay guy, you have to come out all the time. People think coming out is the first time [someone] says they’re gay when in reality coming out is a constant process,” he says. “The last huge coming out I had in my life was when I came out to my parents when I was 18. I’ve forgotten how intense the feelings are and how big a step it is.” 
He adds that portraying Levi and delving into this storyline is the most vulnerable acting experience he’s ever had. “I hope he can get to a place where he feels accepted and loves who he is because that’s where I am now in my personal life, and I hope he’s able to get to that place,” Borelli muses about Levi’s journey going forward. “I feel very connected to him and I really want it to work out for him.”  
Regardless of where Levi’s journey leads, there’s no looking back for Borelli now. He hopes fans can take strength from his choice to reveal this aspect of his life. “This is not just coming out for me. This is about speaking your truth and being authentic and really being vulnerable,” he stresses. “For people who are watching, I hope it can inspire them to tell their truth, whatever that may be. It doesn’t have to be about being gay. It’s just about being honest.”

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