Sure, you can find LGBT characters on TV.
And not just on Bravo or Logo.
Even on Fox, run by the ultra-conservative Rupert Murdoch.
Let’s name a few of the most popular characters:
-- Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), the nelly diva on “Glee” who somehow made the football team.
-- Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez), the lusty bisexual Latina on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
-- Marc St. James (Michael Urie), the flaming fashion assistant on “Ugly Betty.”
-- Lloyd (Rex Lee), the sassy Asian personal assistant on “Entourage.”
-- The gay couple on “Modern Family,” Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), who adopted a baby girl from Vietnam.
-- The gay couple on “Brothers & Sisters,” Kevin (Matthew Rhys) and Scotty (Luke MacFarlane), who are trying to have a baby through a surrogate.
Some reality TV shows have also occasionally embraced LGBT people as contestants.
“Survivor,” the granddaddy of reality TV, made history in 2000 when openly gay Richard Hatch won the first edition of the show and its $1 million prize.
The current edition of “Amazing Race” features a lesbian couple and two brothers, one of whom is gay. Carol Rosenfeld and Brandy Snow, of Los Angeles, say they are “dating,” but a blurb on CBS showed them getting rather chummy in the kitchen. Of the brothers from Barrington, R.I., Dan Pious is the straight one, and Jordan Pious is openly gay.
But when you glance around the boob tube, do you see yourself reflected in the LGBT characters? Or are you seeing more stereotypes than any real personification of the broad and diverse LGBT community?
Gay people are not always flamers, drag queens, lipstick lesbians or leather daddies. They are not always in the creative arts, whether acting, styling hair, designing cutting-edge fashion or applying makeup for Liz Taylor. Many fit into mainstream America, work on Main Street and Wall Street, toil in factories and at high-tech jobs, or serve their country in the military or diplomatic corps. Some compete in rodeos, sky-dive, scuba dive, golf and play sports. Others blend into their neighborhoods, not standing out in the crowd.
If you watch TV, you never see too many gays or lesbians who are older than 40. Did they fall off the face of the earth? Yet, just last week, the federal government awarded a $900,000 grant to create a national resource center for LGBT elders, so there alone is evidence that the LGBT community is graying (or most likely covering it up).
And why are so many gay characters and contestants as white as the driven snow, when the LGBT community is a rainbow of ethnic backgrounds?
Yes, television executives are to be applauded for adding LGBT characters to their shows. But they need to make those characters more human, and less stereotypical, so the straight world can see us for the rich, vibrant community that we are.
For a comprehensive look at LGBT characters on television, read “Where We Are on TV: GLAAD’s 14th Annual Diversity Study Previews the 2009-2010 Primetime Television Season” by clicking here.
Ken Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (877) 727-5446, Extension 713.