Thursday, January 17, 2013

TV Lesbian and Gay Parents and Couples

With Ryan Murphy's "The New Normal" on t.v., presenting us with the newest gay couple/parents on television, what's television's take on our families?  From my column on
Like many children in the 1950s and 1960s, I was glued to the television set early in life. We had two TVs in our house: one was a large black and white set in a beautiful wooden box, with an antennae on the top of the house, while the other small black and white TV was portable, with rabbit ears that were key in getting a clear picture.
I credit the early TV shows with leading me into the gay closet where I spent the early, formative years of my life. The cast of characters who literally scared me into the closet were all fantastic performers in their own right: Paul Lynde in the middle square of “Hollywood Squares,” Liberace playing on “The Mike Douglas Show,” seated alongside Broadway actor Charles Nelson Reilly. Each performer was as effeminate and flamboyant as the next. While being effeminate and flamboyant takes courage to live out, it nonetheless was not part of who I was or how I understood myself in my small world. Each performer was unlike me, and yet they were the only recognizably “homosexual” people I knew in my young life. These were my role models? There were no gay characters in Disney movies, in rock and roll, or in the Hardy Boy books I read. Not wanting to be “like them,” I ran into my closet, closed the door quickly, locked the door from the inside, and did my best to protect my secret for the next thirty years.
Zoom to the 1990s and 2000s, and television shows and personalities changed in remarkable ways. To this day, I credit TV shows like ABC’s “Soap” and NBC’s “Will and Grace” as keys that helped me out of my big gay closet. Watching the character Billy Crystal played — Jodie Dallas — was refreshing after the dearth of interesting gay characters. “Jodie” even fathered a child with one of the other characters.
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