breaking the sterotypes of gay men

Finally, A Gay Character on TV that Doesn’t Make Me Cringe…Shameless

One of the things I try to do with my books is to portray gay men in a variety of ways, hoping to break some of the long standing stereotypes. In this post, I recently commented on how I think the two gay characters in the TV show Modern Family are a classic case of TVfail with regard to the lgbt community. Although I have nothing personal against the actors playing these two characters and I’m sure they are both great guys in real life, I’m tired of watching the most highly profiled gay men in this country being portrayed as effeminate, comical, stereotypes. Hollywood did this 70 years ago with characters of African descent and they did it to get laughs, without caring about how many millions they were hurting or caring about how they were promoting stereotypes. And it seems as though they are doing it all over again with gay men to get more laughs.

The lgbt community is very diversified, and not all gay men are effeminate left-wing liberals who love to shop and listen to Broadway Show Tunes. In fact, I’m probably a good example of this: if you ever really want to torture me, tie me up and make me listen to show tunes. Or worse, make me sit through a Broadway play. I only live an hour from New York, and seeing a Broadway show isn’t a big ordeal. I could go anytime I wanted. But the last play I actually saw, and only because the tickets were a gift and I didn’t want to insult anyone, was Jekyll and Hyde in the late l990’s. And don’t even think about asking me to a piano bar/cabaret where everyone is singing along to show tunes. I’d rather eat a bucket of dirt. And as far as shopping goes, if there were only two choices of torture for me, one being listening to show tunes and the other going shopping, bring on the Ethel Merman songs. At least I can groan in private.

There is, however, hope on the horizon. Last Sunday night I watched a new TV show on Showtime titled, Shameless. It airs at 10 pm on Sundays, ET. It has a great cast, including William H. Macy. And one young character in particular who happens to be gay, Ian, played by a talented young actor, Cameron Monaghan. You can read more about it here, where there are detailed descriptions about the show and all the characters. But I wanted to point out how real this show is written with regards to gay men. This kid, Ian, is more like the gay men…young or old…I’ve known all my life. Looking back to when I was his age, I can finally identify with a character on TV. At least that’s how he’s being portrayed right now. In other words, you wouldn’t know he’s gay just by looking at him, he doesn’t wear flamboyant outfits and speak with a lisp, and he’s truly struggling with who he is and how being gay is going to affect his life and his family.

I sincerely hope they keep the character real this time (you never know with Hollywood). Nothing against Glee and Modern Family. But after watching Shameless, it was nice to finally see a young gay man who isn’t concerned about matching towels and floral arrangements. And there’s nothing wrong with matching towels and floral arrangements. It’s just that these things aren’t what all gay men are into, is all.