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Gay Characters in US Soaps

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I liked Will coming out story on Days and Luke’s on ATWT. I love how some family members weren’t too accepting of it.  That’s how it should be written, I hate when everyone is accepting and thrilled a characters is gay. Give me that hatred side, “let’s deprogram him” type of stuff and then a come around of accepting. Nick Fallon had to be the biggest gay hater on Daytime, I think he use the term “Fag” once or twice on the show. 

 

Also A lot of those coming out stories could have used returns from past gay characters on the shows. 

Edited by Dr Neil Curtis

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6 minutes ago, Dr Neil Curtis said:

I liked Will coming out story on Days and Luke’s on ATWT. I love how some family members weren’t too accepting of it.  That’s how it should be written, I hate when everyone is accepting and thrilled a characters is gay. Give me that hatred side, “let’s deprogram him” type of stuff and then a come around of accepting. Nick Fallon had to be the biggest gay hater on Daytime, I think he use the term “Fag” once or twice on the show.

That's why I thought the Kevin storyline on AMC worked so well and I appreciated how slowly it was played, coming out of the Michael Delaney storyline and the shooting (a true umbrella storyline).  He was disowned, sent to deprogramming (tricked to it--I think the first example of that shown on American TV) would try to reconnect with his brother in jail who would constantly call him fag, taken under the wing by Opal who, despite good intentions, still tries to push him to be straight (and we have the "twist" that only Palmer out of those helping him seems to have any understanding of the situation despite at the time still being a pretty ruthless character), etc, etc.  His mom did sorta come around but it took well over a year.

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1 minute ago, EricMontreal22 said:

That's why I thought the Kevin storyline on AMC worked so well and I appreciated how slowly it was played, coming out of the Michael Delaney storyline and the shooting (a true umbrella storyline).  He was disowned, sent to deprogramming (tricked to it--I think the first example of that shown on American TV) would try to reconnect with his brother in jail who would constantly call him fag, taken under the wing by Opal who, despite good intentions, still tries to push him to be straight (and we have the "twist" that only Palmer out of those helping him seems to have any understanding of the situation despite at the time still being a pretty ruthless character), etc, etc.  His mom did sorta come around but it took well over a year.

I wasn’t watching AMC during that time, my Folks were stuck on NBC soaps and Guiding Light during this time. I heard this was a great story, I am going to YouTube it during Christmas Break. 

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On 12/15/2018 at 6:47 PM, Costello said:

Hmmm. Even though certain fans were in an uproar over Mariah/Tessa, I think it’s telling that the more conservative Bell soaps have felt more comfortable with queer female characters than male ones. (B&B is set in the frickin’ fashion world, for chrissakes.) Those shows have also struggled to cast appealing men to pair with their leading actresses, so they may not want to “waste” solid male performers in same-sex romances, especially when they have to stretch a budget.

 

Sussman started that story before she quit but didn't get to really write it, but in an exit interview she mentioned how she was warned repeatedly, while TPTB were all for it, that Y&r had the most conservative audience out of the soaps and basically told that it could be put to a stop at any minute depending on viewer reaction.  In speaking online with Kay Alden briefly for my MA essay she basically flat out said that they were told during most of her time on the show to not even think to pitch a gay story.

 

On 12/15/2018 at 6:47 PM, Costello said:

I guess when I note the female audience, I mean that soaps have mostly focused on relationships and desires from a female perspective, which could conceivably extend to same-sex desires. And I think we can agree that female-to-female intimacy is much more socially acceptable than male-to-male, at least in the U.S. and much of the West. But you’re right: lots of young straight women are ardent fans of gay male media, and, as we saw in the Sony leaks, the folks at DAYS wanted to capitalize on that with Sonny/Will. Openly gay stars like Troye Sivan, Matt Bomer, and Ben Whishaw have massive straight female followings now, and Jonathan Groff just played a horny straight guy quite credibly in Mindhunter. The world didn’t end.

 

Right, I see both points.  I guess in theory, too, I was thinking of the stereotypical straight female soap audience enjoying seeing all those shirtless men--if they could get past any prejudices wouldn't the shot of two shirtless men together appeal to them more than a lesbian romance?  But of course that's a lot of presumption on my part and of course lesbians make up the audience too. 

I will say that I know one of the writers of the US Queer as Folk (which I wasn't a fan of) who said to me once that their show wouldn't have lasted as long as it did without the rabid "middle aged straight female" fanbase.  He was being somewhat flippant as he always is, but...

And when I was 17 desperate to watch the UK Queer as Folk which I had heard so much about (and do love) as it was just airing with no assumption that it would ever play in N America, back in 1999, a woman contacted me who was from my city and saw a post of mine.  She had a British friend who was taping the show, sending her the tapes, then this woman was converting them to NTSC format all so that she could watch each episode ASAP and saying if I met up with her she would give me copies of them.  I did and it was the most surreal thing--she was a middle aged, married woman and mother who worked at a tiny hair salon out in the boonies (I don't even remember where, except that I had to take several buses...)  And she was incredibly sweet--the only payback she wanted was that I would spend a cup of coffee with her when I picked up each tape to discuss it with her.  While I quickly loved the show I realized her top obsession with it, even more so it was for me, was the aspect of guessing who would pair up (romantically and sexually) with who--and I quickly realized she wasn't the only 40 something straight woman watching for that.  So...

 

On 12/15/2018 at 6:47 PM, Costello said:

Gay men have been loyal fans of daytime for years and deserve representation, sure, but we aren’t the be-all, end-all in the LGBT spectrum. Nor all we all white and/or young (soaps’ obsession with whiteness and youth extends far beyond queer representation, I know). 

Oh absolutely, and I hate to think that was the impression I gave at all. 

5 minutes ago, Dr Neil Curtis said:

I wasn’t watching AMC during that time, my Folks were stuck on NBC soaps and Guiding Light during this time. I heard this was a great story, I am going to YouTube it during Christmas Break. 

Sadly it's frustratingly incomplete on YT--partly because it essentially played to some degree (often on the back burner) throughout November 1995 (when Michael Delaney moves in with his sister and brother in law Trevor and starts teaching at PVHigh, with no one knowing his "secret" that Laurel is scared he'll reveal--conveniently ushering in a new :"teen scene" of SORASED characters) and, focusing on Kevin, goes on till December 1997 or early 98 when Kevin is just faded out of the show with the switch from Broderick's writing to McTavish's much loathed second tenure work.  A lot of the early stuff through to the Feb 96 Cutting Edge show, shooting and trial are on in full episodes on YT but it gets more spotty following the later story points with entire months missing. 

But I do hope you track down some of it and enjoy it--I feel it's vastly underrated (and it's no wonder AMC won three back to back Best Writing Emmys apparently almost all related to material submitted connected to these stories).  While I have a ton of fondness for the Broderick era of the 90s I will say it had some massive misfires (the Tanner Jordan/Hayley/Matteo saga anyone?  The Infamous Erica kidnapping storyline?), but still holds up for me very well (the most dated aspect really is that that was during an era where it, like OLTL, used a nearly constant synth score that just would never stop--a bit like DAYS always does :P Drives me crazy ;) )  Apparently ABC never felt like promoting the storyline or championing it much despite the wins, but were fine with letting it play out if it didn't dominate.  I think there are a few reasons that, despite Kevin being one of the few gay characters at that time who actually lasted just over two years, it often gets completely forgotten when gay storylines are mentioned in magazines etc, is that for one thing it was sandwiched between two much more famous teen coming out soap storylines--OLTL's Billy Douglas one, which had more media attention, the AIDS quilt (Broderick purposefully wanted to NOT tell an AIDS story at AMC) and from a modern perspective had Ryan Phillippe, and then it was closely followed by Bianca's coming out 

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3 hours ago, EricMontreal22 said:

 

Sussman started that story before she quit but didn't get to really write it, but in an exit interview she mentioned how she was warned repeatedly, while TPTB were all for it, that Y&r had the most conservative audience out of the soaps and basically told that it could be put to a stop at any minute depending on viewer reaction.  In speaking online with Kay Alden briefly for my MA essay she basically flat out said that they were told during most of her time on the show to not even think to pitch a gay story.

 

 

Right, I see both points.  I guess in theory, too, I was thinking of the stereotypical straight female soap audience enjoying seeing all those shirtless men--if they could get past any prejudices wouldn't the shot of two shirtless men together appeal to them more than a lesbian romance?  But of course that's a lot of presumption on my part and of course lesbians make up the audience too. 

I will say that I know one of the writers of the US Queer as Folk (which I wasn't a fan of) who said to me once that their show wouldn't have lasted as long as it did without the rabid "middle aged straight female" fanbase.  He was being somewhat flippant as he always is, but...

And when I was 17 desperate to watch the UK Queer as Folk which I had heard so much about (and do love) as it was just airing with no assumption that it would ever play in N America, back in 1999, a woman contacted me who was from my city and saw a post of mine.  She had a British friend who was taping the show, sending her the tapes, then this woman was converting them to NTSC format all so that she could watch each episode ASAP and saying if I met up with her she would give me copies of them.  I did and it was the most surreal thing--she was a middle aged, married woman and mother who worked at a tiny hair salon out in the boonies (I don't even remember where, except that I had to take several buses...)  And she was incredibly sweet--the only payback she wanted was that I would spend a cup of coffee with her when I picked up each tape to discuss it with her.  While I quickly loved the show I realized her top obsession with it, even more so it was for me, was the aspect of guessing who would pair up (romantically and sexually) with who--and I quickly realized she wasn't the only 40 something straight woman watching for that.  So...

 

Oh absolutely, and I hate to think that was the impression I gave at all. 

Oh no. That’s not the impression I got from you at all. But I do think that we (gay men) often feel as if we get the short end of the stick when we’re catered to compared to other LGBTQ. (Especially when we’re watching media about women, which we disproportionately consume.) Not saying here on this board, but in general.

 

I know men loved The L Word for obvious reasons, while a lot of women loved QAF and similar shows. (Obviously not enough of them loved Looking to offset gay male rejection of it, but I know they were watching and getting involved in #TeamRichie vs #TeamKevin.) I think conservative viewers in the Bible Belt will hate the queer stories no matter which gender is represented, but I also think they reserve a particular disgust for gay male sexual behavior. Not to discount straight women objectifying hot men, which is part of soaps, but I wonder how many female viewers are disappointed when the hot guy is off limits from pairing with female characters they identify with? I saw a lot of that with Paul on DAYS. Of course, women often feel a lot of empathy with gay men.

 

I loved the British QAF. The U.S. version just doesn’t compare. Did you watch Russell T Davies’s Cucumber/Banana? I have it queued up on Amazon to watch over the holidays if I can get to them.

 

So cool you got to speak with Kay Alden for your thesis. Who was the other writer if you can divulge?

Edited by Costello

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Never underestimate how much straight women enjoy gay characters and storylines, especially if they have a romantic element.

 

I got to read a m/m gay romance novel (and pretty erotic at that) as an advance reader/galley copy recently and checked out the author’s Facebook page.  Not only was she a woman, but most of the commenting is by women.  While I have read plenty of books with LGBTQ characters and content I had never read a classic romance type story.  As a sub genre within Romance, these books sell really well, especially as digital copies.

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Has anyone compared what was said on that old Tomorrow show episode (which I don't think is online anymore) with how All My Children handled gay stories, as during that program Agnes Nixon spoke about how gay stories could work though it was the one thing they couldn't do in the genre (of course this was in 1975.)

 

When  Banana/Cucumber aired on US tv, they also had UK Queer as Folk available on demand, so I was able to see them together. It was interesting to see how RTD evolved in the 15 years as a writer.

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14 hours ago, ~bl~ said:

Has anyone compared what was said on that old Tomorrow show episode (which I don't think is online anymore) with how All My Children handled gay stories, as during that program Agnes Nixon spoke about how gay stories could work though it was the one thing they couldn't do in the genre (of course this was in 1975.)

 

When  Banana/Cucumber aired on US tv, they also had UK Queer as Folk available on demand, so I was able to see them together. It was interesting to see how RTD evolved in the 15 years as a writer.

I had forgotten what was said and wanted to know for my essay--and of course no longer can find the video anywhere... 

 

The US airing of Cucumber/Banana was atrocious--wrong aspect ratio (I'm talking about Logo), edited for mudity of course (it always seems odd to me that Logo of all channels doesn't allow nudity) and the distinctive score was ripped to shreds for movie rights.  The US release of the UK Queer as Folk had the same music issues (it's just not the same when, say, Sexy Boy is replaced by generic dance beats) but no content editing.  I hope the streaming version is better.

19 hours ago, Costello said:

I loved the British QAF. The U.S. version just doesn’t compare. Did you watch Russell T Davies’s Cucumber/Banana? I have it queued up on Amazon to watch over the holidays if I can get to them.

I hope Amazon is not the US TV edit of Cucumber/Banana.  I mostly loved it (Banana, which Davies didn't write most of, is more hit or miss being more of an anthology show but is always interesting and it's wonderful how they casually integrate the character's into Cucumber).  Without giving a spoiler, in case you don't know there's a scene in Cucumber that confirms that it exists in the same universe as QAF.  A LOT of people didn't like it (bla bla bla, the characters are too unlikeable, who wants to see less than perfect looking middle aged men, bla bla) but I loved it.  So much so that I found out it never got a BluRay release anywhere but in Germany so ordered (at a good price) the German BluRay (region free, uncut) which has both shows.

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I do recall the Kevin coming out story.. and how it was an ongoing umbrella story from 1995 to the end of 1997 that involve the whole cast.  I still recall how Kevin's brother killed Laurel with Janet being accused.. and how Janet, acting as her own counsel, basically figured out that Kevin's brother Jason was the shooter... causing even more angst for Kevin (blaming himself, family even more angry with him).

 

And I recall Kelsey having a crush on Kevin with well meaning Opal trying to encourage the relationship.. and I recall this was one of the things that caused tension in Palmer/Opal's marriage that ended in divorce a year or so later (  I often think if Broderick had stayed on.. Palmer/Opal still would have divorced.. but I think their stance on the Kevin/Kelsey issue would have been played up more to show how different both of them were and fueled Palmer's superior attitude he felt toward Opal, etc).

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On 12/15/2018 at 6:45 PM, Fevuh said:

I so want to be a head writer.  Can you imagine the press you could get if you had a Gay male character as a villain, sleeping with a couple of upstanding straight men around town and then sparring it out with their wives? 

 

Men who sleep with other men aren't straight. So I guess you mean a gay villain sleeping with closeted bi married men?

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6 hours ago, Edward Skylover said:

 

Men who sleep with other men aren't straight. So I guess you mean a gay villain sleeping with closeted bi married men?

Yes.

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On 12/18/2018 at 9:28 AM, EricMontreal22 said:

I had forgotten what was said and wanted to know for my essay--and of course no longer can find the video anywhere... 

 

The US airing of Cucumber/Banana was atrocious--wrong aspect ratio (I'm talking about Logo), edited for mudity of course (it always seems odd to me that Logo of all channels doesn't allow nudity) and the distinctive score was ripped to shreds for movie rights.  The US release of the UK Queer as Folk had the same music issues (it's just not the same when, say, Sexy Boy is replaced by generic dance beats) but no content editing.  I hope the streaming version is better.

I hope Amazon is not the US TV edit of Cucumber/Banana.  I mostly loved it (Banana, which Davies didn't write most of, is more hit or miss being more of an anthology show but is always interesting and it's wonderful how they casually integrate the character's into Cucumber).  Without giving a spoiler, in case you don't know there's a scene in Cucumber that confirms that it exists in the same universe as QAF.  A LOT of people didn't like it (bla bla bla, the characters are too unlikeable, who wants to see less than perfect looking middle aged men, bla bla) but I loved it.  So much so that I found out it never got a BluRay release anywhere but in Germany so ordered (at a good price) the German BluRay (region free, uncut) which has both shows.

 

I only watched 2 episodes of Cucumber but I found the characters to be complete dislikeable stereotypes. QAF was brilliant, the characters were much more real.

 

That Kevin is hot 😍

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5 hours ago, Edward Skylover said:

 

I only watched 2 episodes of Cucumber but I found the characters to be complete dislikeable stereotypes. QAF was brilliant, the characters were much more real.

 

That Kevin is hot 😍

Yes LOL

I dunno--I didn't find the characters on Cucumber to be remotely stereotypical considering how we usually see gay men depicted--I do get the unlikeable thing (something that never bothers me--the original QAF of course got that same criticism not sure which version you were commenting on) but I think with more episodes (especially the amazing one involving the death of a major character--one of the best hours of TV I've seen) they grew in depth.  But YMMV.

 

Edited by EricMontreal22

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