Hello, and welcome to the glamorous Friends of Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the 1st
Annual Primetime Visibility Awards nominee ceremony. The
staff at AfterElton.com spend a lot of time watching television. We also spend a
lot of time watching awards shows – they don’t call the Oscars the Gay
Superbowl for nothing.
Oddly, we realized that these two passions rarely intersect. Why do the two meet so infrequently? Because out gay actors and gay characters rarely
get nominated for those fancy statues.
Sure, they let us hand them out. Ellen got to host the
Emmy ceremony, and this year Neil Patrick Harris takes his turn at the podium, but
really, that just makes us the party planners, doesn’t it? Hosts with the most?
We’re going to change that this year.
We’ve pulled together our own nominees in the most important
television categories (and maybe made up a few along the way), and we’re going to let the coolest,
smartest, most attractive people we know do the voting – you! Think of it as the Gay Emmy Awards, and you’re the voting academy.
Voting will be open until midnight September 15th. Then Thursday September
17th, we’ll let you know who you think the brightest TV stars in our gay
universe are. This is all to get you excited for our Emmy livechat during the
ceremony on September 20th, where we see who those uncool folks in
Hollywood picked for their less important awards – and then mock them for their bad taste.
After you cast your ballots we encourage you to lobby for particular nominees in the
comments. And we’re sure you’ll also take time to tell us which of your
favorites we failed to nominate. We’re cool with that – there are always
special achievement awards that we can throw as bones.
So without further ado, let’s get to our first category…
Best Lead Actor
Common logic in Hollywood is that an out gay actor can’t
believably play a smoldering leading man because audiences won’t buy it. But sixty foot tall talking robots that
transform into sexy car commercials are within the realm of suspension of
disbelief, but not a homo in the lead?
We don’t buy it because they obviously haven’t been watching the same shows we have as our nominees run the gamut of sexual preferences in their characters they portray. And since they all got renewal notices for their series, I guess someone found
them believable enough to watch them carry the show.
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
John Barrowman has been called cheeky before, and not just for his
personality. He was probably mooning someone at the time.
As the omnisexual Captain Jack
Harkness on Torchwood, he’s an action hero that from the future that will shag men, women,
or even an alien equipped with parts that mesh. There’s no doubt that he makes
men and ladies swoon, and he may be the only primetime lead that had a
portmanteau with both his male and female costars.
Still, he’s just as busy saving the earth from utter
disaster as he is playing naked hide-and-seek with his subordinates. And he
proven he’s not afraid to make horrible sacrifices in the name of the greater
good, sacrificing his own grandson to save the planet.
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
Many of us actually watched NPH grow up on our TVs and at the movies. Who didn’t have a crush on Doogie
Howser, M.D., watching him pour his heart out into his text-based
word processor. And who knew he was going to grow up to be such a hunk from those
nerdy beginnings? As Barney Stinson, he’s the ultimate womanizer, and the
keeper of the Bro Code. Barney literally wrote the book on masculinity.
If you keep track of the number of womenhe’s bedded on
HIMYM, you’d be tempted to call the Center for Disease Control for a quarantine of his bedroom since there’s got to be a new species of STD living there. But lately, he’s
fallen for his buddy’s ex, Robin, and millions of women across the country are
rooting for the bad boy to settle down.
Matt Lucas (Little Britain, U.S.A.)
This chrome-dome comedy giant is a comedic force to be reckoned
with. His characters range from the homoerotic bodybuilder (aren’t all body
builders at least a little homoerotic?) to a crazed parent to a delinquent teenage girl. Creating laughter in
the vein of Monty Python on methamphetamine, there’s no subject off limits to
his quirky sense of humor.
Dividing his time between our shores and the Old Country, we
have to share him, but fortunately he leaves you laughing so hard you’re still
wiping the tears by the time he gets back.
Russell Tovey (Being Human)
Oh, those ears. There’s something just adorable about Tovey
that convinces both men and women he’d make good husband material. In some
ways, he’s England’s answer to Neil Patrick Harris, in that he’s been gracing their
television screens since he was fourteen. We first got to know him in this country in
the movie The History Boys, where he was one of the only characters who didn’t
fool around with other boys.
In Being Human, Tovey plays George, an innocent werewolf who
just wants to spend time with his friends (a vampire and a ghost) and his girlfriend from the hospital. Often playing a muddled, innocent man
child, Tovey manages here to be both dorkily adorable as well as the action hero who saved the day in the first
He also managed to be a sex symbol, since he spent part of many episodes naked.
Best Supporting Actor
The Supporting Actor seldom gets the glory. They don’t end
up on the cover of People’s Sexiest Man Alive issue. Heck, it’s rare enough that they
get their own story line as opposed to their usual job propping up some other actor. On top of
that, when people recognize them, it usually involves mistaking them for their accountant. Will the indignities never end?
But there is one thing that’s definitely true about our Supporting Actor nominees –
these out gay men often steal the scene, if not the whole show. It’s not that
they’re classic leading men – though some certainly have what it takes. It’s
often the humanity these actors bring to the table that lets us into the
Bryan Batt (Mad Men)
As conflicted, closeted Sal, Bryan Batt defines the pain of being a
gay man in the pre-Stonewall, 1960s America. Okay, the pain of a middle-class white guy living in New York City.
He is the “artist” counterpart to Don
Draper’s womanizing advertising executive, which was a nice code back then. But
then he had to go and muddy the waters by entering a loveless marriage where
everyone is clearly miserable.
In the opening episode of the current season, Sal was finally on his
way to getting himself a little something when a fire alarm went off before
he did. Fortunately for viewers and fans of plot momentum, the fire escape turned his room into a Movie of the Week
for his boss to catch. How that shakes out is yet to be seen.
Rex Lee (Entourage)
Playing that classic gay role, the put-upon gay assistant to the powerful executive, Lloyd somehow manages to come out on top
every once in a while. While power agent Ari Gold (modeled on Rahm Emmanuel’s
brother) always seems to score the short term wins, Lloyd occasionally buys himself
a present with Ari’s credit card for his troubles. And we’ve even seen him turn a
dog sitting assignment into a naked gay pool party.
This season, Ari and Lloyd have a new deal – Lloyd submits
to a fresh new hell, and Ari makes him an agent instead of just an assistant.
So far, we’ve just seen the fresh new hell, but we’ll be looking for Lloyd to
come out on top eventually.
Luke Macfarlane (Brothers & Sisters)
Last year this Canadian cutie’s character was more likely to be serving appetizers
than advancing his own story. But it’s a testament to the actor that people were so frustrated that his character wasn’t on screen more.
As Kevin’s husband,
he, like all the Walker spouses, is a secondary character. But the cool thing
about what Luke brings to the table, besides those twinkling blue eyes, is that
he’s both endearing and nurturing, yet passionate as well.
The two iconic Kevin/Scotty moments this past year were
Scotty crawling into the hospital bed with Kevin when he donated part of his
liver, and the moment he and Kevin tore off each other’s shirts and thought
they had to decide on a three-way with Kevin’s ex on the spot. That he managed
to pull them both off with ease is proof positive of his scene stealing
Jonathan Slavin (Better Off Ted)
Jonathan may be stealing scenes as Phil on Portia de Rossi’s
sitcom, but it’s not the first time you may have noticed this character actor. He’s been in everything over the last fifteen years, from Wings to Bones. As one of those
actors not unlike William H. Macy, he tends to inhabit his characters, and fade
to the scenery. Not so in Better Off Ted.
To quote io9.com, all the main plots on Better Off Ted are “cutting
into my Phil and Lem time.”
Despite the brilliant comic timing of Ellen’s wife,
the real stars of the show are the science nerds that save the day. Phil and Lem are a total couple, even though they’re both straight. T
Who says gay actors can’t play straight characters?
Michael Urie (Ugly Betty)
Marc St. James may have actually taken the tired old trope of
the bitchy gay assistant to a new high. With his partner in crime Amanda, he
has perfect comedic timing, whether stalking an underwear model or mocking
Betty. He also plays the perfect henchman to Willie, carrying out her evil
plans while tempering their impact on innocent bystanders.
Marc was only meant to be around for a single
episode, but Urie has infused the character with three seasons of fun, not to mention a
remarkable depth. Ultimately,Marc just wants to be loved, despite the shenanigans he gets
up to. It should be delightful fun seeing him remain an assistant this year
while his nemesis Betty becomes an editor.
Just because a show falls into the dramatic category, it
doesn’t mean you’re looking at something as serious as Chekov. Drama is just
the tone, and it doesn’t even have to take place in something resembling our
world – it can be a complete flight of fantasy. Beware – there be monsters
Brothers & Sisters
Week after week, we tune in to the drama of the Walker family
– is there a new sibling? Will the family business survive? How much wine will
be consumed, and whose dirty laundry will get gossiped about until someone
spills the beans in the most inappropriate way possible?
Still, at the end of the day, this family loves each other.
And if they don’t accidentally kill each other first, then they’d certainly kill for
each other. Or at least donate a major organ if need be. And what does it say about
the show that the only successful marriage is the gay one? When all the other
Walkers are falling to temptation, Kevin and Scotty remain true to each other,
even with a hunky Jason Lewis offering himself up to share.
College is generally the first time that most young people
get out from under their parents rules and experience the freedom adulthood has
to offer. That
being said, things can get pretty wild what with alcohol, sex and identity issues cropping up. It’s
something we all go through, but not necessarily something we want to watch others endure. Unless it’s on Greek.
ABC Family has a knack for young adult drama, and here they’ve
given us a fairly no-holds-barred look at college life and the Greek system with
all its Animal House qualities. More importantly, we also see the human sides to these characters
with their young love and struggles to find themselves.
It’s also shown us
something of a rarity with Calvin, a young gay man of color navigating those
same struggles. Kudos to the show for truly showing they are the same
When NBC said they were spending a small fortune to launch a
modern-day retelling of David and Goliath set in a world parallel to ours,
everyone knew they’d have a tough sell. And not only were they setting out to reinterpret the Bible, they were going to make the King’s son gay to boot.
NBC struggled to explain the show to the public, and it
failed in the ratings before finding its feet dramatically, which was tragic, because the writing was
smart with characters both flawed and heroic.
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Adapting a book about a female detective in Botswana might
seem challenging enough what with translating the tones of that languid, rolling culture
for American audiences. But to take the book and add a gay character, rather than
subtract it (as usually happens), well, that takes a certain vision.
And in a part of the world not particularly
known for being gay friendly, even a gay hairdresser named BK is groundbreaking. Like any good hairdresser, BK knows to keep his ears open for all the details
of the neighborhood – making him all the more valuable to an investigator. And all the more welcome on our TV screens.
When AfterElton.com first scooped the rest of the television
world with the news that Michael Cudlitz was going to be playing the training officer for Ben McKenzie’s rookie cop, no one knew quite what to
expect. Would Officer Cooper be gruff? Manly? Out? Closeted?
During the first short season, many of the details about his sexuality were largely up for debate.
Readers on the site couldn’t even agree if Officer Cooper was gay. Maybe there
just happened to be all men in that bar? And did he have to have a drug problem? We couldn’t agree on much,
really. But no one could deny that John Cooper was something new on
Maenads, vampires, and shape shifters – oh my! That was True Blood.
In a world where
vampires have come out of the coffin thanks to synthetic blood, this small
Louisiana town is turned upside down when one of their own ancestors comes
back as Vampire Bill. Soon Sookie’s deep in the world of the supernatural,
working for a shape shifter. Meanwhile, Lafayette, her best friend’s cousin is unapologetically gay, and
deals vampire blood. Did we mention Sookie’s a telepath?
It sounds confusing, but mostly it’s everyone’s dirty little
pleasure on Sunday nights.
We laughed, we cried. We got a little seasick from the
camera work. The modern comedy has changed a lot, going from the three-camera,
studio audience variety to the modern, single camera POV style devoid of a
laugh track. What hasn’t changed is taking ordinary situations and amping them
up for comic effect.
Comedy is an amazing tool for social change. Many histories
credit The Cosby Show for changing
perceptions of African-Americans. And for all the flaws it had, Will & Grace gave much of America
the first gays they were actually glad to have in their homes every week.
What makes a housewife desperate? Did you ever wonder what June Cleaver might be up to while the Beaver
was at school? Did she even have a hunky young gardener to invite in for
Probably not, but you can still see how Marc
Cherry might have invented his concept. You start with June, progress to Gladys on Bewitched nosing around the neighbors, on to Mary Tyler Moore getting out of the house and into the world, and
looping back to Claire Huxtable
splitting her time between workingand
raising her family. Toss in some Dynasty-like
soapiness, and you’re on Wisteria Lane.
Still, DH’s reminded us that today’s traditional family is
anything but traditional. You can have the gay son, the gay husbands next door,
blended families, and stay-at-home dads. And the modern American family can
make anything work, as long as they laugh along the way.
Little Britain, U.S.A.
This import from across the pond brought out Matt Lucas and
his collaborator David Walliams to America with their wacky cast of characters,
plus some new ones that are uniquely American.
There are the homoerotic bodybuilders, as well as Daffyd, who instead of being “the
only gay in the village” is now “the only gay on campus” at university, and
Marjorie Dawes with her FatFighters.
Skewering anything that moves, the British humor leaves no
target unscathed whether it be school children or the American President. Think of it as being part Monty
Python and part Tracey Ullman, with a little George Carlin thrown in for flavor.
You’re probably doing something right when the people in the
real-world version of what you’re showing demand you be pulled from the air.
And many nurses hated this dark comedy about a nurse leading a double life.
Jackie has an adorable husband, two daughters, and a
pharmacist she’s banging at work for pain medication. Plus, she works for an
uppity administrator, has an enabler for a best friend and a gay co-worker who thinks he knows here well.
It’s full of darkly
funny situations about the public faces we put forward to different sides of
our lives to get through life with as little friction as possible. Thankfully, Jackie also has her two gay nurses to actually take care of patients while she deals
with her life — at least when Thor’s not trying to get Momo’s attention, that is.
Adapted from a telenovela, this is the classic Ugly Duckling story with a modern twist. Set in the world of
high fashion, Betty moves through life determined to be herself while dealing
with the wacky characters who surround her including an overprotective father, a sister of questionable tastes, and a nephew determined
to follow in her independent footsteps, but with jazz hands. At work, the cast
is just as quirky, but with more money and style.
While they’ve kept Betty as the heart of the show, Marc
and Amanda bring their amazing comedy
chops to the show, and it’s hard not to giggle at them when they get on a roll.
By the same token, Evil Marc playing off Willie
always sends a shiver down your spine, because you know the situation is about
to get comedically devious. Wait – is this the Fabulous Marc show? We smell
United States of Tara
Can you imagine the pitch meeting for this show? “I want to make a comedy
about a woman dealing with Dissociative Identity Disorder and her family. No,
we’re not going for wacky – absurd perhaps, but much too dark to be wacky.”
On the surface, the show sounds really difficult to pull
off, yet somehow it’s effortless. We care about the family, and while Tara’s
alters each tug the family off course in some way, the show always keeps its
balance. Gay teen Marshall is not only remarkably fleshed out, but has
managed in 12 short episodes to break out in a way that Eric on Gossip Girl can only
dream of doing in forty.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Nothing to
see here, please move along. After all, writers are
usually the least visible piece of a television show, though easily the most important.
And if it weren’t for a generation of out power-queer writers in Hollywood
today, we wouldn’t have the representation in television we now enjoy.
It’s easy to complain about our representation – trust me, we
do it every day. But it’s quite a different thing to get out there and make a
difference. Plus, odds are, when you do stick your neck out as a writer, and
try to create a gay character, someone somewhere is going to be upset that he’s too gay,
not gay enough, there’s not enough kissing, not the right kind of kissing, too stereotypical and … well you get the point.
they’re not supermen, but they’re trying harder than most of us and some of them are quite brilliant at what they do. Here are six of them.
Alan Ball (True Blood)
Scanning Alan Ball’s list of credits is like reading an
evolution of gay on TV – Grace Under Fire, followed by Cybill (Christine
Baranski’s lines were divine, just like her), then Six Feet Under with a real
gay couple. Now he’s adapted Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampires series into
everybody’s dirty little pleasure.
Some people have been claiming he’s de-gaying the series,
but it’s hard to take that seriously. The biggest gay presence, until Sookie’s
cousins arrive, is Lafayette, and he’d already be dead if Ball hadn’t deviated from the books. Nor has Ball glossed over Godric and Eric’s relationship and last week, he had Sophie-Ann waxing
nostalgic about watching men have sex with each other.
If anything, he’s gayed
the books up, which were pretty gay to start with. Add in Jason Stackhouse’s
aversion to clothing, and Michelle Forbe’s Maenad, and this is arguably the gayest
thing on television.
Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives)
What is it with this show, and these incredibly odd women,
that resonates with so many gay men? You could claim to be watching the show
for the gay characters, but let’s face it, they’re not on all that much – but
at four out and proud men, it may have more gay characters than any
scripted network programming.
It may not have inspired games like “Which Sex and the City Girl Are You?”, but
each and every one of these crazy women brings a certain aspect to the table
that we’re likely to identify with. Edie
was promiscuous, but she owned it. Susan
is just a mess. Bree is kind of prissy. Lynette would have it all
going on, if it weren’t for the lead weights known as her family tied around her neck whileGabrielle
is a snob. Please – you can’t think of some men you know that fit in here?
Cherry gets bonus points for marrying Andrew off to a doctor who paid for medical school by doing adult movies – and not web style like all the
kids these days. He did proper smut on DVD.
Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies)
The ill-fated Pushing Daisies was completely unique on
television. It was a weekly fairy tale (not the gay kind) delivered in
brilliant Technicolor. It didn’t have a developed onscreen gay presence (though
one was hiding in plain sight), but it had a definite gay sensibility.
Fuller has a knack for creating things that don’t fit the
mold on network television. He was prominently involved in the good season of NBC’s NBC’s Heroes, the delightfully quirky Dead Like Me, and of course, Wonderfalls. He’s not active on any one
new show right now, but he has an open development deal, so he’s likely
fleshing out some other fever-dream production that will gladden our gay hearts!
Silvio Horta (Ugly Betty)
Sure, the show has had ups and downs in quality, but you
can’t say it hasn’t been willing to throw it all out there. Rebecca Romijn as Alexis Meade was a
heck of a twist, back from gender reassignment surgery. Marc is evil, shallow, deep, and good all at the same time and Cliff made anything but the
stereotypical boyfriend. Even Claire
versus Willie is a reason to tune in
all on its own.
Plus, the show has given us some of the best
cameos in recent memory – Lindsay Lohan,
Cheyenne Jackson, and Christian Siriano. Now UB has access to all
the richness of New York City, and Silvio knows how to dip into that pot and serve us up
the meatiest bits.
Sean Smith (Greek)
We’ve done a lot of complaining about the fact that gay frat boy Calvin
is largely a sounding board for everybody else’s problems. He counsels his frat
bothers on love, friendship and girls who think they may like girls. He got it on with another frat brother for a short while, and had an
inappropriate fling with a very hot teacher. And it does finally look like he’s getting
a real love life.
Juggling all of this is Sean Smith, Greek’s creator and head writer.
Despite our own gripes with Calvin, let’s give credit where credit is due: ABC
Family has been talked into doing a fairly edgy depiction of college life including sex,
drinking and the like. And Smith has also given us Calvin, something of a rarity on
television – a young gay man of color. And while it’s not been nearly as
consistent as the love lives of his frat brothers, he has had one, something that can’t be said about a
lot of other gay characters we could name.
Russell T. Davies
Perhaps the most controversial writer in the category, there’s
something to be said about the fact that at least people are talking about Mr.
Some fans have accused Davies of homophobia, which is, we’re
afraid, a little ridiculous. Davies is out, he created Queer as Folk, and he created Janto
in the first place. There’s no way you can look at his writing from a rational
perspective and claim bias from the man. (Let the comments begin!)
Yes, we all loved the world he created, and yes,
he rampaged through that world in Children of Earth like Godzilla on a caffeine
high, but he also did something quite amazing: He made us care that he went on the
rampage. He wrote one of the most talked about stories of the year, and he’s
proud of it. Even if we mostly disagree, we can’t really blame him for that.
Best Gay Character, Drama
We’ve come a long way, baby. When we nominted out favorite gay actors, we had a few playing straight guys, so when we’re honoring our favorite dudes onscreen, we need to look at both the actors, and the characters they bring to life.
While we wouldn’t exactly say our cup was overflowing when
we got to the nominations for this category, we have to admit that we were
pleasantly surprised at the number of choices we had, and how many of them were
BK (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency)
Yes, he’s a hairdresser, but he’s a hairdresser in a third-world country. And an out one at that. BK is central to how information flows in this HBO
series, and the heroine doesn’t get to be heroic without a little help from her
gay friend. The fact that he can also help her with her hairdo is just a bonus.
He’s just another frat brother. And that may be the most
remarkable thing about him. Calvin is an out man of color, living in a
fraternity house. And he’s easily the most grounded, sane person on this show
filled with alcohol, parties, and sexual exploration. Let’s hope that his new
flame makes him just as hormonally driven as everybody else on the show.
Officer John Cooper (Southland)
He was something entirely new on TV. He’s tough, he’s
politically incorrect and he’s in charge of training other people. Sure he has a
painkiller problem, but if you’d been tackling street toughs on the beat for
fifteen years you might too. And he may have inspired Hollywood to start
writing an entirely new type of gay character.
Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood)
A mere six months ago, we all saw Captain Jack much as we
saw the actor who played him – a lovable irascible, playful rake. Sort of a post-modern day
Then Children of Earth came along and seemed to change the tone of the character: he
was hard. He caused the death of his lover and sacrificed his grandson. And many of us weren’t sure what to think. Or perhaps we simply forgot this might have been entirely in his character all along.
Ianto Jones (Torchwood)
Impeccable suits. The perfect cup of tea. And a desire to be
loved, and wanted, and needed. Those are some of the things we remember about Ianto Jones who went from coffee boy to action hero; from
hot fling to the partner of a superhero; and from alive to dead. Ianto was just coming into his own, and
coming to understand his feelings, when he died, but you can’t argue that his
character didn’t evolve in the time we knew him.
Lafayette Reynolds (True Blood)
Shouldn’t you be dead already? Lafayette certainly would be if the television show was following the books on which it’s based. But that
would suck all the fun out of the show.
It’s safe to say there’s not another gay character like
Lafayette on television. You can call him a tramp and you can call him morally suspect – but you better say it with
some respect if you value your teeth. Lafayette somehow manages to incorporate
swish, sass, and toughness into one heck of a bootylicious, perfect-pec package.
Kevin Walker (Brothers & Sisters)
We don’t suppose Kevin is any more messed up that anyone
else in the Walker family. Sure he’s a gossip, and a bit of a lush, but that’s
how he was raised. He’s also a fashionable attorney who somehow manages to keep
his family out of the worst of their legal woes, and still finds time for love and
passion. Now if he could just remember to tie something to his door knob so his
sister will stop interrupting him at inopportune times.
Scotty Wandell (Brothers & Sisters)
He’s a chef, he has the patience of Job, and he’s adorable. He’s
also never been at a loss as to how to deal with the fact he was gay. It was the rest of the details of life that troubled him at first, including dealing with his conservative parents. But that’s all in the past now that he’s settled down with Kevin and pondering what the future might bring.
Best Gay Character, Comedy
We’ve already given you the Best
Actor in a Comedy, so we’re going on to honor the onscreen personas most likely to make us shoot milk out of our nose. If laughter is the best medicine, these guys are the Tamiflu of the television world.
Agent Till (Weeds)
When this dark comedy about a suburban, pot dealing mom
abruptly introduced the detail that Roy Till, the DEA agent hunting her was gay, by
showing him in bed with his partner and a giant bottle of lube on the
nightstand, we were more than skeptical. Frankly, we were even a little pissed. Was that
really necessary for what seemed a throwaway scene?
It turns out it was because the Agent Till’s relationship
was going to become central to his pursuit of Nancy’s boss. And once he got
too close for comfort, his partner was killed in an incredibly brutal and
graphic fashion, which set off the plot for an entire season. That will teach a
bunch of critics to pre-judge a storyline, right?
Unfortunately, Agent Till came to an unseemly end that left a bad taste in some folk’s mouths. But the character and his storyline were still noteworthy.
Marc St. James (Ugly Betty)
The bitchy gay assistant. Yawn! Wait – they made it fresh?
We often complain that television only knows how to write a
handful of gay characters. And we tend to be hypercritical when they go back to
the same well over and over. Then every once in a while, Hollywood goes and
surprises us. Or a gifted actor makes the character his own. Fortunately, both elements came together with the character of Marc.
He’s both the perfect accomplice and the perfect foil to
his boss Wilhelmina Slater. He understands the difference between naughty, and just
plain wrong. Sure, he might torment Betty about her clothes, but he
never does anything really wrong to her. And while Betty is busy being the
heart of her family and managing her boss Daniel, Marc manages to humanize
Wilhelmina — which means he must have superpowers.
Marshall (United States of Tara)
There was no messy coming out scene. There really was never
any angst about being gay. Marshall just was. And nobody cared, in the best
While Toni Collete chewed the scenery in her amazing
portrayal of Tara, Marshall took care of the family, fell in love, had his
first kiss, and finally had enough. His character skipped over the same tired
coming out/gay bashing storylines that most of our other young gay characters endure because he and his family knew
exactly what was important in life.
Best Younger Portrayal
OK, we’ll admit, it’s an odd way to phrase a category. But
some of the actors that play gay teenagers on our favorite shows are gay, some
are straight, and some we just don’t know. And at their age, we think it’s
perfectly OK for them to keep it to themselves. What matters here is that we’ve
got brave young actors bringing positive role models to the screen for gay kids
everywhere to see.
It’s important to be able to look at the larger world and
see yourself reflected, especially if you’re not growing up in the big city. Ten
years ago if you were talking about a gay teenager on television, you were
talking about a gay bashing storyline or a coming out episode done very much as an Afterschool Special.
Today, we’re lucky enough to have enough portrayals of gay teens to
have created a award whole category.
Chris Colfer (Glee)
We first met Chris’s Kurt
on Glee as he was being tossed into
the dumpster by the football team – but not before begging to take off Marc
Jacob’s Spring Collection. We have our concerns that Kurt may end up being a
bit of a stereotype, but it’s a show one could argue is less about stereotypes than it is archetypes – a modern, musical version of The
We’ve got a whole season to figure out why out Glee scribe and creator Ryan Murphy was so taken with Colfer during the auditions, that he added Kurt’s character to the cast just to have the witty
young actor be a part of the show.
Keir Gilchrist (United States of Tara)
As Marshall, the often put-upon son of Toni Collette’s title character in Showtime’s United States of Tara, Keir Gilchrist brings his character to life in a way viewers weren’t expecting. In a show
everyone expected to be dominated by Tara’s alters, Marshall managed to become the show’s breakout character everyone raved about. Whether it was Marshall’s love of old movies, his cooking skills, his ability to kick some
butt while defending his sister, or his ability to take care of his family when his
mother couldn’t, Marshall proved to be one of the most interesting gay characters on television of any age.
Mark Indelicato (Ugly Betty)
Justin spent most of last year, though we did see him audition for the performing arts high school. That also gave him his first awkward crush, which the show
didn’t explore very deeply. But isn’t the first crush often something that’s
more often than not mostly meaningful glances and sweet nothings whispered inside your own head, than something right out on the table?
Justin, as played by Indelicato, is unapologetically
Justin, singing show tunes in the subway to his dad, giving his mom fashion
advice, and seeming to contain every single drop of style the Suarez family has.
Argiris Karras (Degrassi: The Next Generation)
While this Canadian high school dramedy has almost always
set the bar for how to portray a gay teenager (Marco, played by out Adamo
Ruggiero, set the bar high), they may be outdoing themselves with Riley, the football player questioning
his sexuality. We’ve seen him kiss his straight best friend, date girls, lust
after his summer camp crush, give in to his passion in the woods, and abuse
steroids trying to prove his masculinity.
What so unique here is, that on the rare occasion that
a movie or television show has given a gay football star,
it’s almost always been as the “gay twist” at the end of the episode, or worse, the punch line. Degrassi
breaks yet more ground by letting us watch Riley struggle against what he sees
as the conflict between how everyone else sees him, and how he thinks society
Connor Paulo (Gossip Girl)
Playing Eric van der
Woodsen on the teen smash Gossip Girl,
we often lament the fact that Connor isn’t given a lot to do on the show. Nonetheless, over the years, he’s made good use of the screen time that he has been given. He
played a teen recovering from a suicide attempt, provided a calm, sane voice to
his mother and his sister concerning their tumultuous love lives, bonded and
humanized bad boy Chuck Bass. He even owned being outed by Georgina Sparks.
This year his big accomplishment, with the help of his
boyfriend, was hacking Gossip Girl herself. Granted, what his impetuous sister
decided to do with that access, caused GG to go nuclear with all her secrets, but
that was actually the basis for the high school to college transition.
Some people call it stunt casting. Others call it an homage
to fans. And, well, somebody has to speak the lines. If there’s room in the budget, why
not make it a name actor? Bonus points if it’s a show with a big gay following needing to beef up their actual gay resume.
Of course there are times that it just fits the show, and
that can be the best. A cameo by a celebrity that’s somehow connected to the
world the show lives in can breathe a little realism into the program. But be warned – a few of these were blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos.
Chad Allen (General Hospital: Night Shift)
There was nothing brief about Chad’s stint on Night Shift.
His portrayal of the optimistic patient that steals Dr. Kyle Julian’s heart
nearly broke ours. We even got to send Daniel Leary to the set to get into bed
with Chad and talk about his role and his charity work. The one part of the
performance that was unbelievable? The hunky Allen as a sick, weak patient.
Wilson Cruz (Raising the Bar)
The beefy Cruz gave us one of the first younger portrayals of a
gay character on My So-Called-Life, and he’s been active in gay causes for
years. He had a three episode arc on the TNT legal drama playing a flamboyant
love interest named Rafael de la Cruz opposite Charlie Sagansky when Charlie was still deep
in the closet. All of that and perhaps his recent beefier build, also landed him back on the Hot 100.
John Glover (Brothers & Sisters)
Conceived as a viable, long-term love interest for Uncle
Saul, the story got back-burnered in favor of wrapping up the Kitty-Robert
drama. But seeing the out Glover playing an out man was charming while it
lasted. Plus, he didn’t have to worry
about kryptonite or aliens or anything.
Cheyenne Jackson (Ugly Betty)
It was terribly brief, but Jackson’s turn on Ugly Betty as a
single gay dad was adorable. Something about the hunky Jackson walking the
streets of NYC, baby strapped to his chest, looking for love just makes a man
swoon. Sadly, it was anything but a love connection for him and Marc at lunch,
and we didn’t see him return. At least his gig on Lipstick Jungle lasted a little longer.
Christian Siriano (Ugly Betty)
In a casting move that should have surprised no one, the
Project Runway winner brought his over-the-top diva nature to the Mode offices
for a feature piece. A dramatic fashion designer, appearing on a show about a
fashion magazine? I hope no casting director earned a bonus for thinking of
that. But the visit itself? Fierce!
Reality Program, Competition
You know how they work – the performing monkeys dance (or cook or
sing or sew, etc), and then you or some judges vote, and someone generally wins some
money, or a fabulous new future.It’s
the American Dream compressed into 10 weeks.
Sometimes these programs generate a lot of stress, and you
get to see the contestants’ ugly side, but just as often, you see the stress
turn into solidarity between competitors, and a triumph of spirit over greed.
The Amazing Race
TAR is easily one of the most gay inclusive shows on television,
and the one that usually scores CBS any points at all with GLAAD. And this past season of the show was about as queer as it gets. Mike and Mel White were team gay, and represented
well, even if you never knew they were the most famous queers the show’s ever had.
Plus, we got a bonus gay with Luke, who was also deaf – another first on
network TV – plus a lesbian contestant as well!
Dancing With The Stars
Last fall, the ballroom extravaganza had their first gay
contestant, Lance Bass. Despite rampant speculation they’d give him a male partner, the show opted for tradition. In all reality, while it would have been
great to see a positive representation of same-sex ballroom, it understandably
would have changed the scoring dynamic on the show. Lance did us proud, making it all the way to the final three.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
What’s gay about this show? We’re going to pretend you didn’t
ask. Either that or take away your toaster oven. Shot on a shoestring
budget for Logo, this drag queen reality was an instant hit.
Whether in a suit or a dress, host RuPaul was a force of
nature and while she definitely had to carry the judges table, the contestants
truly had a lot of heart.When Ongina won the MAC Viva Glam Award and came out as HIV-positive, we all cried at her
Oi! What a mess. After closing down shop last October, the
ratings juggernaut that launched 1000 variations on Bravo, finally vacated the court system and debuted on Lifetime. The verdict? Still out
after only three episodes, but Heidi is there, as is the only most important
member of the cast, Tim “make it work” Gunn.
Last season’s Top Chef: New York gave us two out gay contestants, Richard
and Patrick, while the current Top Chef: Las Vegas has served us up Ash Fulk, and lesbians Preeti
Mistry and Ashley Merriman. We developed a girl crush on Ashley when they had the wedding challenge and she pointed out the irony that three of the contestants couldn’t get married themselves. You go, girl!
Dance Your Ass Off
Oxygen created an odd hybrid that makes a lot of sense with
this show. If there’s one consistent thing that DWTS contestants say, it’s that
they lose weight. Joey “Fat One” Fatone made a huge deal out of it. So why not
combine The Biggest Loser with a dance show?
What can we say, except you guys really got into the show
this year? We had Adam Lambert standing in the remains of the closet he
shattered years ago ago, unable to confirm he was out because contestants can’t
talk to the media during the show.
Sure we all knew the truth, but it was hysterical
watching the mainstream press stumble around trying to figure out what to say. Plus the guy that
actually won was pretty adorable, too. And it gave us the best reality bromance since Bronnie.
In this category, the monkeys just go about their lives, and the cameras
follow along. It’s kind of the Jane Goodall school of reality TV. Granted, their
lives are pretty amped up compared to ours, but it’s still about putting one foot
in front of the other. The producers just make no promises that it won’t be
done on a tightrope over a pit of snakes.
Out of the Wild
We broke new ground here, with the Discovery Channel casting
its first gay participant ever on the network. Yeah, we were as stunned as anyone to see Jeff Corwin’s
wife and baby. In fact, we took our ‘dar into the shop for a tune-up after that.
Jake Nodar was dropped into the middle of the Alaskan outback with a bunch of
people and told to walk home, we were hooked. This was a great,
stereotype-busting man who could hunt, fish, hike, and then turn his dinner’s
pelt into a fashion accessory.
Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency
What is it about the World’s First Supermodel that makes us
watch this train wreck? She claims an affinity for the gays, and she genuinely seems to
have it. We’re oddly drawn to her, and we have no idea why. It’s not just the
endless parade of manflesh she forces to strip in front of the cameras, though
that doesn’t hurt. Nor does the fact the JDMA regular J.P. Calderon is a sweetheart, and we loved watching his coming out back in season two. And at the end of last year, Janice had promoted J.P. to an agent
and taken him away to New York City, which should prove interesting for the next season.
Shirts & Skins
When Logo decided to break their mold and air a reality show
about a gay basketball team preparing for a competition, we were a little skeptical.
But the guys were no joke, even if there was no way they could have afforded
that loft in San Francisco. And out John Amaechi as a mentor to the guys was a
touching bridge between amateur and professional sports. Plus, athletic gay
As the winner of HGTV’s first Design Star contest, David Bromstad
won his own show on the network. David is a sweet guy, and not a polarizing
character like so many contestants on reality television. His specialty is, naturally, color and how
to use it in a home. As long as he keeps the tight shirts, he can paint our place pink with yellow polka dots for all we care.
The Real World: Brooklyn and Cancun
After losing it’s way from the halcyon days of Pedro Zamora and The Real World; San Francisco, this MTV stalwart finally found it’s way back from relentless drunken debauchery. In fact, the last two cycles have not only featured some great out participants including J. D. Ordonez and Derek Chavez, but have actually not made us want to gouge our eyes out (yes, we’re talking to you Real World: Denver).
Talk, Variety, or Nonfiction Program
Sometimes we need people to tell us things, or goof off with
us, or point out the absurdity of modern life. And that’s why God invented talk shows. We’ve always found this whole category to be a bit
of an odd grouping. Saturday Night Live and Keith Olbermann are up for the same award? And if this were the real Emmys, we’d have to lump in awards –
the Oscars, the Tonys and every other award show with our nominees — and that makes as about much sense as Glenn Beck.
The shows nominated here have varying quantities of gay
content, but regardless of actual quantity, they have got a definite gay sensibility that makes us love them.
The Colbert Report
Admittedly choosing a favorite between Stewart, and his progeny Stephen Colbert is nearly impossible. As a conservative blowhard, Colbert can
go places that Stewart can’t, because if you miss his irony (and so much of the
world is irony-challenged), he’s just being nice to the bigots.
Colvert also seems a
little more inclined to go the homoerotic route than is Stewart, and that affords viewers a little more eye candy.
Just this year alone, Colbert had
his hunky MLK mascot, unveiled his studly body-doubles for his Iraq trip, destroyed
NOM’s Gathering Storm ad, took on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell on a military base in a warzone,
and mocked the recent gay demon exorcism.
Countdown with Keith Olbermann
He’s a fire breathing liberal that isn’t afraid to say he’s “one
step above a dancing monkey” on his own show. Clearly, he doesn’t take himself too
seriously. But he does take anti-gay bigotry deeply seriously, even if he
tears it down with humor.
Whether he’s dissecting DADT with Dan Savage,
wondering who Carrie Prejean is and why we care, or awarding his nightly “Worst Person in the World”
award, he’s always on our side. Oh – and he looks, at least to me, to be what Alec Baldwin should have aged into.
But it may have been after the passage of Prop 8
in California that Olbermann passed “advocate for liberal causes” status and
became one of our bosom buddies. His Special Comment segment concerning Prop 8s passage brought a
tear to the eye of everyone who heard it.
The Daily Show
The Daily Show has seen quite a few hosts in
its various incarnations over the years. There was a time when Craig Killborn
hosted that it was so homophobic, we didn’t watch for years. But the queer
community can’t ask for a better ally than Stewart in our fight for equality.
Stewart is exceptionally smart, funny and relentless in taking on a hypocrite, but
what’s astounding is just how tireless he is fighting for our rights. This year
alone, he’s proved an ordained gay bishop can be hilarious, took on Prop 8 so
many times I lost track, tried running Rush Limbaugh out of New York City, saluted
Vermont on gay marriage equality, took on DADT, Fox & Friends, and saluted Tim Gunn.
We’ve personally offered to knight Jon Stewart as
is our right as the arbiter of all things gay. Now it’s up to to decide if he’s earned a gay Emmy.
Infomania, That’s Gay
We’ll admit it – we’ve never watched an entire episode of Infomania
on CurrenTV. Which means we have no idea what the whole program is like. That being said, we never, ever miss the Bryan
In fact, That’s Gay is appointment viewing for me. This summer Bryan had us in stitches talking about gay penguins, Bruno, gay commercials,
faux-lesbian stunt kissing, and even Gayngels. Nothing’s sacred with this show, and
that’s generally how we like our comedy. The fact that Safi’s adorable is just
icing on the cake.
The Rachel Maddow Show
While AfterElton.com is all about the gay and bisexual men business, we’ve got such a girl crush on Rachel Maddow.
She makes those nasty,
insane people go quiet, because she does something totally unique in cable news
– she researches facts. She’ll follow the money. And then she’ll explain it all
in simple, straightforward words that we can understand.
She doesn’t use wild interactive walls. She doesn’t scream
her points. She never makes stuff up. And she gets the inherent silliness of
the universe. She’s a proud nerd and she’s a tireless advocate for
civilized, logical debate whether the subject is torture, health care, Prop 8, and DADT.
Saturday Night Live
We can occasionally be rough on Lorne Michael’s aging baby, but to be honest, we’ve got a lot of respect for the incubator for so many of our beloved comic talents. Obviously,
being topical and trying to remake the show every single week around the guest host’s talents, the program can be hit or miss – especially when it goes after a gay topic. When it
misses, we can be brutal, but when it hits, we tend to gush and forgive the
abuse from before.
Best Animated Character
These days, some of the smartest writing on TV is in
animated television. We’ve no idea if it’s because the characters aren’t real (often
not even human) or because writers feel they can get away with saying things that they could never get by the censors otherwise.
If we restrict ourselves to primetime, we’ve got an
incredibly rich pool of characters to choose from. In fact, in the
recent GLAAD report on queer representation, Fox nearly fell off the map if you
excluded their animated characters.
Bob & Terry, American Dad
Bob & Terry are not only the Langley Falls newscasters, but are also out and proud gay men who hapen to be
husbands. While often used just for silly comic relief on American Dad,
they sometimes get their own story, and this year’s presidential election gave them a juicy one since one of them is a Democrat while the other is a
Log Cabin Republican.
And when Stan’s approached to speak at the Republican National
Convention, he gets involved with LCR, dances to Madonna, and learns that you
can’t always spot “a gay.” And if Bob and Terry can teach right-wing Stan
Smith gay tolerance, there may be hope for us all.
Duffman, The Simpsons
The Simpsons have always been gay inclusive including Mr.
Smithers and Marge’s sister Patty. In one episode, Homer ran a gay marriage
wedding chapel and once inadvertently took Bart to a gay steel mill. Fortunately, the writers don’t always hit viewers over the head with a lesson; sometimes they treat us like we’re just like them.
This past year, Homer had a business helping people break up with their significant others. And one of his customer helped was sleeping with the show’s single
most butch, masculine character – Duffman, the Duff Beer spokesman. While it’s
noteworthy that they treated tjos relationship just like they treated all the
others (shocking!), what really caught us off guard was that Duffman’s always been
portrayed as dumb, beer drinking, bimbo-surrounded frat boy.
Who knew he
went home to a man?
Stewie Griffin, Family Guy
Surprising absolutely no one, Seth MacFarlane recently outed Stewie Griffin – again. Granted, he’s only one-year-old, but he’s invented both a
time machine and a Star Trek
transporter, so we’ll just go with the fact that he’s precocious in all areas
of his life.
Not every joke with Stewie works – he gets all the best one
liners on the show, but some of the storylines have been known to fall flat. Despite that, we simply have no choice but to include televisions only one-year-old gay baby.
Rick and Steve, Rick & Steve, The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World
On Logo’s Rick & Steve, The Happiest Gay Couple In All
The World, we have our own unabashedly queer version of Ozzie and Harriet. And
our own queer Robot Chicken, for that matter. This weird cross between Legos and
action figures occurs in Lahunga Beach, where nearly everyone is gay, and they
tackle subjects that occasionally make us wonder if we’m watching Showtime instead.
It airs on the gayest network on the planet, so saying they
manage to cover the entire spectrum of queer stereotypes is a bit of an
understatement. There’s nothing sacred on this show, whether it be Lesbian Bed Death, porn, sex
clubs and pretty much anything else you can think of.
This ain’t your father’s cartoon show.
Waylon Smithers, The Simpsons
The granddaddy of modern gay characters, Mr. Smithers
has an unhealthy adoration of his boss, the evil Montgomery Burns. Smithers is also
president of the Malibu Stacy Fan Club and is really the Jiminy Cricket to
Mr. Burns, always trying to tempering his boss’s desire to make a puppy fur coat or some other sort of
Television is an intimate experience. It’s in your home and is something you usually watch with people you choose to be around. The characters on your favorite shows drop by
every week, and often start to feel like part of the family. Many a gay boy has
adopted the ladies from The Golden Girls as surrogate grandmothers. Watching TV is a far different than
going to a movie, which is a one-off event seen in public with strangers.
But not every television watching experience is the same. Some shows do only pop into our homes once, never to come back and snuggle up on the couch with us
again.These are the made-for-TV movies or the mini-series, and while we might not get to know them as intimately as our favorite shows, they are often about bigger issues and presented on a bigger scale that amplifies their impact despite their limited duration.
Here are the gayest of the bunch this year.
Kiss Me Deadly
We finally got our gay James Bond in this here!TV produced
movie starring the out, hunky Robert Gant. And while people were of mixed opinions
on the movie’s quality, if you go ahead and admit that Bond is cheesy, campy fun, this
really was the same thing – minus the exotic locales, $200 million budgets, and
expensive English sports cars.
In the beginning Bond wasn’t nearly as fancy-schmancy as he
is these days, and Gant is just the strapping stud I’d travel to the moon with.
On the Other Hand, Death: A Donald Strachey Mystery
We’ll be the first to admit, we’re kind of fond of the idea of a gay Mickey Spillane. And Chad Allen plays the gruff detective slob with just the right touch of grittiness that makes him
believable. Plus, he and partner Timmy make the perfect odd couple, so the series hits on
all cylinders there for us.
This particular movie featured a
lesbian couple living out in the country, Timmy’s old flame coming back into town, and
a bigger effects budget so they can burn things down, really raised the bar for the series. Sure, it was lacking in the beefcake of
Third Man Out, and didn’t give us Morgan Fairchild in Shock To the System,
but it was much stronger in the noir aspect, and the storytelling held you on
the edge of your seat.
In 1994, gay
characters were still shockingly rare on television and unapologetic gay characters even rarer.
So when HIV-positive Pedro Zamora came on The Real World: San Francisco, it truly broke new ground and opened minds across the country and around the world.
This year, MTV went back to the glory days of The Real World franchise, and
told Pedro’s story again, in this made-for-television movie. Newcomer
Alex Loynaz played Pedro in a screenplay written by none other than Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black.
It may seem odd, fictionalizing a character that we saw so
much of in real life, but what’s important here is that the story is so relevant today. Too often people who are HIV positive are still hiding in the shadows, even as
new infections are on the rise. Everywhere, even in the gay ghettos, people
with the disease are stigmatized, and the open honest portrayal genuinely has the power to save lives.
Prayers for Bobby
As if making a TV movie for Lifetime, about a young gay man
driven to suicide by his family’s blind faith wasn’t enough of a tear jerker –
they had to get the legendary Sigourney Weaver to portray Bobby’s mom as a woman on a
path to redemption for her role in his death. And it lead to Scott Bailey, who starred as Bobby’s boyfriend, to write a touching letter detailing how making the movie changed him
Lifetime is known for
their movies, but not for their movies about gay kids and mothers dealing
with them. But here, the network and those involved in making the movie, cut to the heart of America’s intersection of gay issues with those of faith and religion. It
was a brave move dealing with a heavy subject. The movie had both high and low
points, but what no can deny is that it honored Bobby by hitting the emotional chords that moved almost everyone who saw it.
Torchwood: Children of Earth
There’s not a lot to say about this that hasn’t been discussed
and argued to death here on AfterElton.com, and elsewhere. Russell T. Davies took us
on a wild ride of action, and then discovery as Ianto tried to figure out what
it meant to love Captain Jack. Then Mr. Davies reminded us that these were his
toys, and broke them all over the carpet. And many people are still in mourning.
Say what you will about whether we were led on as to the
nature of the relationship (and you have), but someone once said that if it
evokes an emotional response, then it’s art. By that measure, Children of Earth
was the frakking Mona Lisa.
That’s it – that’s all our categories, and all our nominees.
Who’d we forget? Who are you rooting for? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll
let you know who wins on Thursday, September 17th. Then join us for
our Emmy livechat on Sunday, September 20.