Daytime’s 25 Greatest Gay Characters


Then

April 3rd, 2014 marked an historic moment in American Daytime TV, as Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis got hitched on Days Of Our Lives, becoming the first married male couple on a soap opera.

It’s unclear how their first anniversary will be celebrated, as the two are having … problems.

Now

While we wait to see what the future holds for WilSon, let’s take a look back at the history of gay characters on American daytime TV. This list spans thirty years of soap operas, and includes icons and one-offs, but they all made some kind of impact on the lives of their fictional towns.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

The “Hot Tub Gays” from As The World Turns, Reg and Tony, two fellow students from Oakdale University who tried to persuade Luke and Noah to join them for a weekend of debauchery.

Mateo and the gaggle of gays on Days Of Our Lives that swarmed around Sonny and then … disappeared.

Lindsay Smith, Channing Capwell Jr.’s secret lover on Santa Barbara

Lindsay Smith

Ted Murty from General Hospital, who was falsely accused of raping a female student.

Brad Phillips, from All My Children, who dated high school teacher Michael Delaney.

DISHONORABLE MENTION

Daniel Colson on One Life To Live, married to Nora Buchanan, who commits TWO murders to keep from being outed. His wife is pissed.

Let’s begin the countdown!

25. NEIL

SOAP: Days Of Our Lives

Neil made just a couple of appearances on Dool, but they were crucial to Will’s coming-out story. He was Will’s first man-on-man kiss (sadly, the EJ sock puppet Will used to practice on doesn’t count), and it was sloppy, drunk, and angry … like every first kiss should be. Neil followed up the Tunnel Snogging with a cameo at the police station, as Will’s alibi for the night the Stefano was killed … again. Yes, Will would rather have been known as a potential murder suspect than as gay, a realization that led to a public outing. We never saw Neil again, but his spirit surely still haunts that tunnel, waiting for the next repressed Salemite to enter. There’s got to be a way to get J.J. in there.

24. JON HANLEY

SOAP: General Hospital

Jon Hanley was a recurring character in the mid-90’s, chairing the annual AIDS fundraiser. He was also HIV positive, as was actor Lee Mathis: “The actor attracted national attention in 1993 when he placed a $99 advertisement in Variety acknowledging that he was HIV-positive and seeking acting roles in order to maintain his Screen Actors Guild health insurance. Several casting directors responded, offering bit parts and eventually the role on the popular daytime soap opera.” Lee died of AIDS in 1996, and his character died off screen, mourned by Port Charles.

23. BRENT

SOAP: Days Of Our Lives

Blond interloper Brent was an old “climbing buddy” of Sonny, who breezed into town with spelunking on his mind. Appalled at the sight of a domesticated Sonny, he tries to lure him away with the promise of exploring “Bryce Canyon,” which sadly is not a gay porn star but is an actual … canyon. He also tries to undermine Will’s confidence, which is like shooting fish in a barrel, but it was all for naught, as Sonny decides to refuse his offer.

22. MARK SOLOMON

SOAP: One Life To Live

Mark was a struggling student at Llanview University when he became romantically involved with D.A. Daniel Colson. Desperate to keep their clandestine relationship hidden, Daniel resorts to murder when he’s blackmailed, and a second murder to cover up … the first murder. Mark was devastated … and never seen again.

21. MICHAEL DELANEY

SOAP: All My Children

Michael was a decorated war veteran and beloved high school history teacher, but when he came out to his class, he was fired by the Pine Valley School Board. That controversial dismissal led to this insane scene, where Michael appears on the Pine Valley Public Access show The Cutting Edge (hosted by Tad Martin), and all hell breaks loose! You’ve got the deliciously evil Liza demanding “Blood!,” Dixie in a tragic haircut, parents foaming at the mouth, and … God bless Opal. Plus gay teen Kevin Sheffield decides to come out on air, leading his homophobic brother to commit a deadly act. This is soap opera! As for Michael, he got his job back, moved in with boyfriend Brad, and presumably is still teaching.

20. DERRICK

SOAP: Days Of Our Lives

The hottest bellboy in history. Derrick stalks the corridors of Salem Inn, looking to interfere in the lives of anyone who will give him a good tip, or a good f*ck. It was Derrick who inadvertently (perhaps) revealed to Sonny that Will and Paul were having an affair, and we haven’t heard from him since. But we’re confident we’ll see him again. He can check out any time he likes, but he can never leave.

19. RAFE TORRES

SOAP: The Young & The Restless

The CBS behemoth is woefully underrepresented when it comes to gay male characters (but it’s not as ridiculous as The Bold & The Beautiful, the show set in the fashion world), but Rafe did his best as the only gay in the village. His big storyline involved being seduced by the show badboy, the erstwhile and future hetero Adam, in order to “distract” Rafe from Adam’s evil deeds. Rafe hasn’t been seen in a few years, having opened his own law practice, but he’ll always have his memories of being a sex pawn.

18. BRAD COOPER

SOAP: General Hospital

Brought in as a schemer and manipulator, lab technician Brad soon became a character you love to hate, and began a relationship with Nurse Felix Dubois. Things got complicated when Lucas Jones came back to town and Brad soon found himself in a tug-of-war between both men, with Lucas eventually winning. It remains to be seen for how long.

17. KEVIN SHEFFIELD

SOAP: All My Children

Kevin struggled with his sexuality until the courage of his teacher Michael Delaney gave him the inspiration he needed, and he came out on live TV. Unfortunately, Kevin’s psychopathic homophobic brother didn’t appreciate Kevin’s honesty, and he went on a shooting rampage. Kevin’s family blamed him for the incident, and kicked him out of the house, but Opal and Palmer took him in and gave him the love he deserved. The last we heard Kevin was working at the Pine Valley Holidays Club on July 4th, 1998. The day the club exploded to smithereens.

16. BRIAN S. MOLDER

SOAP: Days Of Our Lives

A pre-med student at Salem U, Brian was introduced to Sonny by Will, who tried every trick in the book, including soft core jazz, aromatherapy candles, and his “come f*ck me eyes” to seduce Sonny into his bed, but the furthest he could get was Sonny’s chastity buckle. He disappeared soon after for a dancing career.

15. HANK ELIOT

SOAP: As The World Turns

Fashion designer Hank was the first male character to come out on a daytime drama, and also revealed that his partner Charles was dying of AIDS. Considering this was 1988, and in the middle of the AIDS paranoid hysteria, this was a risky move by TPTB, and was met with mixed reaction. The show was honored at the first GLAAD Media Awards, but Brian was written off the show after less than a year. But he did give us this heartbreaking scene that a generation of gay men can relate to.

14. NICK CHAVEZ

SOAP: One Life To Live

After Kyle Lewis was rejected by former college lover Oliver Fish, he began dating activist and teacher Nick, and the two of them almost tied the knot … until Kyle backed out. Nick became a bit unhinged, and tried to come between the newly reunited Kish, but eventually realized he couldn’t fight the inevitability of a gay super couple, and he quietly departed.

13. FELIX DUBOIS

SOAP: General Hospital

Before Brad and Lucas signed on, nursing student Felix was the sole gay representation in Port Charles, and his wisecracking and exuberance caused an enormous amount of fan reaction, both positive and negative (enough that gay head writer Rob Carlivati responded to the criticism). He started dating fellow hospital worker Brad, but a potential love triangle eventually fizzled out.

12. PHILLIP CHANCELLOR III

SOAP: The Young & The Restless

Phillip came back from the dead after 20 years with a shocker. Well, two shockers. First, he was back from the dead. And he was gay! He faked his death to escape the pressures of his family and to conceal his sexuality, but decided to return to try to get to know his now adult son. After his son proves he’s a chip off the old block by faking his own death (to go into the Witness Relocation Program), Phillip decided to leave Genoa City and head back to Australia.

11. BILLY DOUGLAS

SOAP: One Life To Live

The first regular gay teen character on a daytime drama, high school senior Billy moved to Llanview in the summer of 1992, and his storyline was frontbunner for most of the next few months, as he struggled to come out to his parents while battling false rumors of a sexual relationship with pastor Andrew Carpenter. Billy left for college the next summer, and the last we heard he was bartending at famous dance clubs.

10. LUCAS JONES

SOAP: General Hospital

Lucas came out in 2005, and then promptly disappeared for years after the death of his adoptive father Tony. When Doctor Jones came back in 2013, he confronts bio-dad mob boss Julian, who is … reluctant … to accept a gay son, but eventually comes around. A romantic triangle was set up between Lucas, Felix, and Brad, but Lucas appears to have made his choice.

9. PAUL NORITA

SOAP: Days Of Our Lives

The most recent entry on the list, Paul has done the unthinkable: Come between gay supercouple WilSon. A pro baseball player who is forced to retire due to injury, he finds himself back in Salem, hoping to rekindle his relationship with Sonny. At the same time, he’s interviewed by Ace Reporter Will, and decides to come out publicly, aided and eventually … bedded … by Will. But that’s not the end of Paul’s story, as the truth about his Salem heritage will forever change his life.

8. KYLE LEWIS

SOAP: One Life To Live

Kyle Lewis started out as a shady lab tech not above using a little blackmail to fill his pockets, but seeing college sweetheart Oliver Fish helped him turn over a new leaf, and one kiss helped Oliver see the light, too … from the crack of the closet door. Realizing he was destined to be with Oliver, Kyle calls off his rush wedding to Nick, and confesses his love for Oliver, in a scene of classic soapy goodness.

7. NOAH MAYER

SOAP: As The World Turns

One half of Daytime’s first gay supercouple, film student/barrista/fireworks expert Noah breezed into town and made fast friends with kindred spirit Luke Snyder. But their friendship soon took a turn for the romantic, leading to this historic moment. Which led to another historic moment, and another historic moment, for all the wrong reasons. Their love affair is interrupted when an accident temporarily leaves Noah blind and annoying, and Luke moves on to Dr. Reid Oliver. But in their final scene together before the show ended, there was an inkling of new hope for Nuke’s future.

6. OLIVER FISH

SOAP: One Life To Live

Police Cop and history’s greatest FUB, Oliver Fish denied the truth about his sexuality until college sweetie Kyle jogged his memory, and their New Year’s Eve rendezvous is one of the most romantic moments in soap opera history. Sadly, and infuriatingly, their final scene takes place only a few months later, as they head out of a courtroom with Oliver’s baby girl Sierra, hopefully to live happily ever after. That’s the least that can happen considering they were blamed for the show’s declining ratings and fired.

5. CHANNING CAPWELL JR.

SOAP: Santa Barbara

When Santa Barbara premiered in 1984, the first episode was a flashback to 1979, as we followed golden boy heir Channing Capwell Jr. as he attended a high society family party. He was hot, cocky, and confident, … but SPOILER! wouldn’t live to see Episode Two. As the first season progressed, Channing’s killer was eventually revealed, and it was discovered that his lover Lindsay .. was a man! Channing’s father reacts in the most soap opera way possible, and later reacts in the second most soap opera way possible. *Sigh* Am I the only one who misses His Royal Prick Mason?
TRIVIA – Channing was played by Robert Brian Wilson, best known as the hot psycho Santa in Silent Night, Deadly Night. Punish!

4. SONNY KIRIAKIS

SOAP: Days of Our Lives

AWW! Since the first time we saw Sonny beaming that smile (and explain his nickname), we’ve been hooked. Sonny’s warmth, generosity and humanity have elevated the WilSon storyline, from the first romantic gay kiss to the first time they make love. Through all the ups and downs, tragedies, horrid shirts and baby birthing moments, Sonny has shown us how there can still be heroes on soap operas.

3. REID OLIVER

SOAP: As The World Turns

On the other hand, there’s also a lot to be said for an anti-hero. Dr. Reid Oliver was crusty, obnoxious, rude, condescending, and sometimes just plain mean. And we loved him for it. He brought a spark to daytime that will probably never be replicated, and played havoc with the idea of the noble soap gay. But as it turns out, in the end, he was noble. But don’t dare tell him that, you pea-brained fool. His last act was to make sure his heart was donated to a shaved baboon, and his final word … was a wisecrack.

2. WILL HORTON

SOAP: Days Of Our Lives

“Oh Will.” If I had a quarter for every time I’ve liveblogged that sentiment, I’d be a very rich man. There have been times when we’ve wanted to hug Will close to our hearts, and other times when we’ve wanted to smack the shit out of him, and that’s what makes a great soap opera character. Here’s the classic scene when Will and grandma Marlena discuss the tunnel snog (of course, it’s interrupted at the end by rampaging Samizilla), the daytime history making WilSon wedding day (remember how hopeful we all were?), and another look at Sonny confronting Will about his affair with Paul. All scenes of classic soapy goodness, and hopefully we’ll see much more in the future. Knowing Will … that’s a distinct possibility.

1. LUKE SNYDER

SOAP: As The World Turns

And here we have the greatest gay soap opera character, and it was really a no-brainer. It had to be The Pouty Prince Of Oakdale. Luke was spoiled, smart, sexy, funny, caring and … dramatic. Oh, how dramatic. Just witness his coming out, which was filled with angst and emotion, and angry beards.

He had two complicated romantic relationships on the show, starting with the sweet and gentle Noah, and moving on to the not so sweet and gentle Reid, and both love affairs were memorable and fulfilling. Regrettably, he was the ONLY member of the regular cast not to get a romantic or happy ending, but we know wherever he is and whoever he’s with … he’s wearing the hell out of a striped shirt.

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