May 01, 2009

The Way That We Live...

Sitting in my living room one evening clicking through a zillion channels, I became alarmed by a horrendous sound coming from my television. What I thought was Mariah Carey caught in a beaver trap was in fact the high-pitched squeal of a thousand gay souls lamenting the sad state of gay visibility on the small screen.

Okay. Being the big queen I am, perhaps I’m exaggerating. The sound was coming from me, because we are not amused.

When it comes to seeing queer life being represented on television, the GLBT community continues to come up shorter than a box of Trojans at a frat party.

Now I know some of you will wag your fingers at me and point out that we do in fact have two cable channels devoted exclusively to homo-centric programming, Here and Logo. And while I enjoy and support the concept of these channels, let’s be honest: with all due respect to the men and women behind these ventures, their programming truly does test the limits of mediocrity, and that’s putting it mildly. A few notable exceptions are Here’s Dante’s Cove and The Lair, which are fun, and Logo’s Exes & Ohs and Sordid Lives: The Series, which are brilliantly written and acted. But for the most part, no one is going to shell out extra bucks for substandard entertainment.

Of course we have had a handful of shows that have paved the way for greatness in gay specific television like Ellen, Will & Grace, Queer As Folk, and The L Word, but all of these have become relics of queer history, and much like the final episode of The L Word, a frustrated and unexplained void has been left in their places (and speaking of The L Word, enough already! I confess. I killed Jenny Schecter! Satisfied?).

Since I’ve started bitching about my tribe’s glaring omission from the tube, friends have pointed out that there are still quite a few gay characters on television and the organization GLAAD spends hours combing the airwaves for traces of queer life for their an annual report (thus proving they actually do have something to do other than stand on a box and boo and hiss at the world to justify their existence.) But this does not satisfy me. It’s not enough that we have token supporting roles on television. Having young gays on a soap opera that went months without so much as a lustful glance at each other (Luke and Noah on As the World Turns), an orthopedic surgeon clumsily testing the waters of lesbianism (Grey’s Anatomy’s Callie Torres), a non-sexual gay assistant (Marc St. James on Ugly Betty), or a gay couple (I don’t even know their names!) whose sole purpose is to offer the occasional catty or pithy remark to a bunch of desperate housewives, one of which has a gay son we hardly see, does not balanced representation make!

I maintain that being present, yet sidelined on the tube is not enough, folks. We can fill twenty-two minute sitcoms and forty-four minute dramas in ways that are appealing to all audiences. We have histories and stories that are just as compelling and provocative as anyone else! Okay, maybe you don’t, but I do! Chubby, gay boy from the Midwest spends his time in the big city entertaining an eclectic crowd of people working at a gay gift/video store and as a humor columnist, while teaching the world that being unique is so much more interesting than being the common douche bag. Hilarity ensues. Where the hell is that show?

That powers that be (whoever they are) need to wake up and smell the coffee (delicious coffee, by the way, being served at a certain local gay coffeehouse I highly recommend!). If they want our viewer ship, I suggest they get with the program and gay things up a bit. Otherwise, I’m chucking the television out the window and am going to shove the remote control straight up someone’s…

Title Inspired By the Song: "The L Word Theme" (Follow link to hear this tune!)
Artist: Betty
Available On: The L Word, Season Two Soundtrack

Originally written for The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published GLBT newspaper established in 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

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