Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Nice to Have Role Models...

The cover story of the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly looks at gay teens on television, and how television shows like Glee are setting a new example in the entertainment world. The story includes a timeline of milestones in the depiction of gay teenagers on television, beginning with Ryan Philippe's brief stint as a gay teen on One Life to Live to prominent characters on current shows like Greek and 90210.

It's good to see that things are changing on television where gay characters are concerned, and hopefully it's reflective of changing attitudes toward gay people in many high schools, colleges and communities. While Kurt, Chris Colfer's character on Glee does exhibit some stereotypically "gay" behaviors—fixation on what characters wear and how they look, an interest in fashion and decor, a more feminine voice—the counterpoint of Darren Criss' character, Blaine, helps illustrate that not all gay people act the same way. If people can start to understand that gay doesn't always equal flamboyant (see Sean Hayes' character on Will & Grace, for one) and that you can't always pick the gay person out in a crowd, that's half the battle.

Between the increased number of positive (or at least diverse) gay role models on television and openly gay celebrities like Ricky Martin, Neil Patrick Harris, TR Knight and Ellen DeGeneres, I hope that teenagers and others struggling with their sexuality can take some comfort in knowing that they're not abnormal or different. I remember when I began realizing that I was gay, the examples I saw on television were Billy Crystal's overly stereotypical Jody Dallas on Soap and, even sadder, Aidan Quinn's AIDS-stricken character in An Early Frost.

Is it any wonder it took me a long while to come out of the closet to friends and family? Hopefully we're on the right track now...

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