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LGBTQ Representation on Daytime Soaps


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Like most I want more LGBTQIA representation. However there are some practical limitations, beyond the need for more LGBTQIA writers and producers, in order to tell modern stories.

17 hours ago, Faulkner said:

I haven’t watched Hollyoaks regularly in years, but don’t they have a gazillion LGBTQ characters in high-profile roles?

 

Hollyoaks is a perfect example of these issues. 

 

Problem #1: While there are a lot of gay, lesbian and bisexual characters, the small population, coupled with being set in a tiny village, means that they've all dated each other in some permutation.  There's a joke in West Hollywood that by 30 everyone has already dated everyone else in town yet, in Hollyoaks it is actually true.  Characters who have nothing in common, except for their sexuality, are in relationships because there are no other options.  Straight male and female characters come to town in droves, but the same few LGBTQIA characters are stuck with each other for eternity.

 

Problem #2 is that most Hollyoaks stories for LGBTQIA couples are too similar to their straight counterparts.  They all want to get married, and then they all want babies.  I am old enough to recall when the leading gay magazine's tagline was "the paper for the alternative lifestyle."  There are no alternative in Hollyoaks, or DAYS, when every gay character longs for the same relationship ideals of every straight character and every gay character somehow winds up with children.

 

Problem #3: Every coming out story need to have a character in opposition to gay rights in order to play all sides of the issue.  Older characters regularly get thrown under the homophobia bus just so the audience can hear someone take the opposite position.  Coming out is always played as a single event, and it is either met with total acceptance or total rejection.  I recall actors who were gay in real life having to play homophobic jerks and I felt bad for them having to react in a way that we would never expect other minority actors to have to play.

 

Problem #4: Historically, all soaps seem to only have three stories to tell for gay/bi male characters (a) they are the wedding planner/gossip columnist/gay best friend whose only personality trait is flamboyance (b) they are baiting gay characters to get want they need, but really desire a straight relationship, or (c) they are dying of AIDS without the support of anyone but their sudden gay ally in town.

 

So, yes I want more LGBTQIA+ stories in daytime, but not until there is some maturity in how the stories are told.

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19 minutes ago, j swift said:

So, yes I want more LGBTQIA+ stories in daytime, but not until there is some maturity in how the stories are told.

You make great points. In many cases, the types of small-town settings for soaps are the type of places queer people often leave for bigger cities with more dating options (London, NYC, Los Angeles). The City would have been a great opportunity to showcase LGBTQ characters. I know they attempted something with Azure, the trans model, but you can’t tell a credible NYC story without gays and lesbians.
 

There are SO many issues that gay men that are unique that aren’t tied to blatant homophobia and gay-bashing, HIV fears, or coming out to friends and family. I would love to see gay characters who are older than 30 or 40 on these shows for once.
 

In theory, trans characters should have more romantic “options,” but there are a lot of very complicated issues there as well. Notably, hesitation from cis people to pair up with trans people, and how to dramatize that. But it’s also an opportunity to show them learning and growing.

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4 hours ago, Faulkner said:

Male bisexuality is so frightening, confusing, and threatening for a lot of people, I think. Some gay men included! We’re more likely to get bisexual female characters like Otalia on GL and Mariah on Y&R.

 

Rex on OLTL, of course, is a character that should have been bi. And apparently almost was.

JPL said that Gary Tomlin asked him what would you think if Rex tried to seduce Seth away from Jessica. JPL said he was all for that but ABC backed out 

Edited by John
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4 hours ago, John said:

JPL said that Gary Tomlin asked him what would you think if Rex tried to seduce Seth away from Jessica. JPL said he was all for that but ABC backed out 

That was another time, but I would hope today most writers and network executives would reject those types of portrayals of craven bisexual men as not the types of representation that we are looking for in soaps; which is why I would also not look forward to triangulated bisexual stories, the association of bisexuality and adultery is neither empowering nor respectful.

Edited by j swift
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15 hours ago, j swift said:

That was another time, but I would hope today most writers and network executives would reject those types of portrayals of craven bisexual men as not the types of representation that we are looking for in soaps;


I hear you but this is exactly a reason why soaps are having so much difficulty: we complain when all the gays are domesticated but we also worry when LGBT characters are overly sexualized and "predatory". 
For a cautious producer, it does feel like they can't win. So they don't try. I want more representation and that does include "bad-acting" characters and, yes, at times flamboyant characters because some of us are like that and it is OK.

What can't be is no representation or limited caricatural representation. But I am fine with a variety of LGBTQ characters including different facets of the human experience and we are never going to get anywhere if we overreact to anything that resembles a trope.
Because, let's be blunt, 90% of characters in soaps, regardless of gender or sexual identity, are tropes.


I will give an example: Adam on Y&R slept with a man for his own purposes. Do you think it is better for LGTBQ representation that that has never been mentioned ever again and that he has never been described as bisexual - let alone used that aspect of him for story - or that they explored it even in the context of admittedly a scheme that used his (gay) one-time lover for his own purposes?

Personally, I would have loved this to be a proper story and a part of his subsequent identity, even if Adam is fundamentally an antagonist, rather than a forgotten footnote they quickly backed away from.

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19 minutes ago, FrenchBug82 said:

 


I hear you but this is exactly a reason why soaps are having so much difficulty: we complain when all the gays are domesticated but we also worry when LGBT characters are overly sexualized and "predatory". 
For a cautious producer, it does feel like they can't win. So they don't try. I want more representation and that does include "bad-acting" characters and, yes, at times flamboyant characters because some of us are like that and it is OK.

What can't be is no representation or limited caricatural representation. But I am fine with a variety of LGBTQ characters including different facets of the human experience and we are never going to get anywhere if we overreact to anything that resembles a trope.
Because, let's be blunt, 90% of characters in soaps, regardless of gender or sexual identity, are tropes.


I will give an example: Adam on Y&R slept with a man for his own purposes. Do you think it is better for LGTBQ representation that that has never been mentioned ever again and that he has never been described as bisexual - let alone used that aspect of him for story - or that they explored it even in the context of admittedly a scheme that used his (gay) one-time lover for his own purposes?

Personally, I would have loved this to be a proper story and a part of his subsequent identity, even if Adam is fundamentally an antagonist, rather than a forgotten footnote they quickly backed away from.

This is the issue I had with potentially making Thomas bisexual on B&B. I was troubled by the idea that the very first queer male character in B&B history, on a show set in the *fashion industry*, being an abusive nutcase. It just veers too close to equating queer sexuality with pathology and psychosis. If there’d been a rich tradition of queer male characters on B&B, fine. Break open the poppers. But it didn’t sit well with me. Similar to how distasteful it was that OLTL made its first post-Billy Douglas gay male character a serial killer.

Edited by Faulkner
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12 minutes ago, Faulkner said:

This is the issue I had with potentially making Thomas bisexual on B&B. I was troubled by the idea that the very first queer male character in B&B history, on a show set in the *fashion industry*, being an abusive nutcase. It just veers too close to equating queer sexuality with pathology and psychosis. If there’d been a rich tradition of queer male characters on B&B, fine. Break open the poppers. But it didn’t sit well with me. Similar to how distasteful it was that OLTL made its first post-Billy Douglas gay male character a serial killer.

And a serial Killer because he didnt want people to know he liked sleeping with mwn to boot. I remember reading most of the actors involved hated that story. They redeemed themselves with Kyle & Oliver but then gave into pressure and wrote them off but still kept them in Llanview off-screen

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34 minutes ago, FrenchBug82 said:

I hear you but this is exactly a reason why soaps are having so much difficulty: we complain when all the gays are domesticated but we also worry when LGBT characters are overly sexualized and "predatory". 
For a cautious producer, it does feel like they can't win. So they don't try. I want more representation and that does include "bad-acting" characters and, yes, at times flamboyant characters because some of us are like that and it is OK.

That is a really good point.

 

It is tough because you're never going to be able to please everybody, no matter what you do. But in most cases, just having the characters there, in their own storylines, with their own personalities and relationships with one another is good enough for me. I'm not saying that a gay couple on soaps has to have like a Brian and Justin kind of relationship, but it's just good to see them be included in the story

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16 hours ago, j swift said:

That was another time, but I would hope today most writers and network executives would reject those types of portrayals of craven bisexual men as not the types of representation that we are looking for in soaps; which is why I would also not look forward to triangulated bisexual stories, the association of bisexuality and adultery is neither empowering nor respectful.

But isn't this kind of what is strangling any kind of story? Soaps have all kinds of people who are still considered "good" but have adulterous affairs.  I remember back during Curlee's run on GL where the black characters got to be "good" but not perfect..Gilly was ambitious and put career over a relationship, and she could actually play the same game that Roger and the Spauldings did, while not initiating it, she gave as good as she got in the subterfuge area. That would be intereseting to see in a gay character.   I have no desire to see another boring gay storyline like the ATWT.  I actaully thought Otalia was kind of interesting, besides the boring Natalia nobody thrown in there, as Olivia's voracious sexuality seemed to always be open to experimentation...(I thought they were going to write Jonathon that way for a bit but no..) and if the story continued I am sure they would be hamstrung and then write them out because they couldn't do the inevitable...Olivia would cheat on Natalia with a man or a woman as that is what Olivia does..not because she is bisexual..but becasue she is OIivia., but the fans of the couple and others would complain that it cast gay couples in a bad light. All couples, gay or straight don't need to be Chris and Nancy Hughes, or the storylines would dry up.

 

Edited to say, FrenchBug82 said it better then me! Totally agree.

Edited by Mitch
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Realistically, the stories I would want to see some of these characters in do play on some of these things, but I think if you commit to fleshing them out in terms of character and family, you can still be compelling beyond just the optics of the story at hand.

 

Having Will have an affair with Paul on DAYS came too soon and the character changed too quickly, but it could have been done much smoother if they had played up Sonny's domineering side, trying to control Will's career (not wanting him working for a Titan company, fearing Will would get sucked into the family mess etc), and Will resenting the interference so much, and resenting Sonny's time he spent living "the gay life" before they met, while Sonny is the only man Will's ever been with. And that led to an eventual affair, and a messy divorce, and saw Will decide to party it up, largely to spite Sonny, who still wants to be with Will, but only on his terms, effectively trying to shove the genie back in the bottle.

 

If you use the domesticated qualities in some of the characters as a means to conflict with the needs of others, it can be used organically without devolving into PSA or stereotype. But it requires gradual movement that daytime is completely disinterested in now.

 

 

 

I'll go one further: Terry on GH. I sorta tossed an idea out there to a friend that I wished the show hadn't killed AJ off again, because I'd be down to see him and Terry get together, but not realize she was trans at first, and once he did, he attacked her, but Terry either killed him or severely wounded him.

 

This could lead to a great story of Terry and Liz taking on the great Q money and power, and lawyers, in court. The trial could highlight the class disparity as well as flipping the queer issue of trans women being killed by partners on its head, and giving them something of a voice. Daytime has the room to do something like that, of course. If there was the interest.

Edited by beebs
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Posted (edited)

A lot of the points raised in this post are why actual representation matters.  If you had several LGBTQ characters you are not as locked into one type of person being the only kind presented.  If OLTL had done the serial killer storyline while Kyle and Fish were a couple, it would not have been nearly as egregious as it was.  Greg Rikaart’s character on DAYS was a fun change of pace from Will, Sonny, and Paul because he got to be awful.

 

Fear is what has been killing soaps for decades- the audience is both leading and being ignored by tptb, which has created a strange paradigm where nothing of import happens and they all share a generic tone.

 

 

Edited by titan1978
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12 minutes ago, beebs said:

Having Will have an affair with Paul on DAYS came too soon and the character changed too quickly, but it could have been done much smoother if they had played up Sonny's domineering side, trying to control Will's career (not wanting him working for a Titan company, fearing Will would get sucked into the family mess etc), and Will resenting the interference so much, and resenting Sonny's time he spent living "the gay life" before they met, while Sonny is the only man Will's ever been with. And that led to an eventual affair, and a messy divorce, and saw Will decide to party it up, largely to spite Sonny, who still wants to be with Will, but only on his terms, effectively trying to shove the genie back in the bottle.t.

I always felt that they should gone that route with Will/Sonny after Arianna was born. 

 

Sonny, the world traveler, now having to settle down and be Mr. Mom. He could've had trouble adjusting to that life, and done all the things to Will that you suggested, which could have caused conflict with Will, and with Gabi. Ultimately, that what would've driven Will to have an affair with Paul. It could have played for years.

 

Honestly, if I was writing it, I would've made Sonny/Will/Paul the gay Hope/Liam/Steffy, albeit with better writing lol

Edited by AbcNbc247
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29 minutes ago, AbcNbc247 said:

I always felt that they should gone that route with Will/Sonny after Arianna was born. 

 

Sonny, the world traveler, now having to settle down and be Mr. Mom. He could've had trouble adjusting to that life, and done all the things to Will that you suggested, which could have caused conflict with Will, and with Gabi. Ultimately, that what would've driven Will to have an affair with Paul. It could have played for years.

 

Honestly, if I was writing it, I would've made Sonny/Will/Paul the gay Hope/Liam/Steffy, albeit with better writing lol

I could see it. I probably also would have not made Paul a retcon secret child of John's from a period when he was front burner in story, but that's for another thread.

 

I also think that they could have found a more organic way to make Will a bit more of a b!tch, almost as a reaction to Sonny. That volatility could have been exciting, and rebelling against Sonny's desire for domestication by sleeping around a bit would have kept things fresh. Hell, tie it to Titan, and bring on one of Sonny's brothers, and have Will hook up with him in an attempt to move up the ladder at work, while claiming he wants to "do it on his own without family help". Almost to justify his desire to sleep around in his own mind. He's Sami and Lucas's son, for God's sake. It's okay to give him SOME edges.

 

Edited by beebs
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