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Religious Tolerance logo

Homosexuality in the media

Milestones from the year 2000 to now:
- Portrayal of LGBTs by the media.
- Actual LGBT persons in the media.

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Some milestones:

bullet 2000: Until 2000-DEC, none of the daytime soap operas had ever included a major, continuing role by a person with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. Then, All My Children broke new ground. Its character Bianca Montgomery (played by Eden Riegel) began to realize that she is a lesbian. She desperately tried to convince herself that she is a heterosexual, without success. She agonized about coming out of the closet. She finally came out to her mother, Erica Kane (played by Susan Lucci). Erica initially went into denial, but subsequently began to accept her daughter's sexual orientation. Later, in 2008, Bianca married another woman -- the first same-sex marriage in soap history.

bullet2000-DEC: A U.S. version of Queer as Folk debuted on the Showtime network. It follows the lives of five gay men in Pittsburgh.

bullet2001-APR: In the APR-26th episode of Friends, Rachel (played by Jennifer Aniston) recalled a brief, experimental, lesbian experience from her college days. She and a fellow classmate Melissa, (played by Winona Ryder), got drunk, and had a passionate kiss and make-out session. Ryder denies that the event ever took place. At the end of the episode, Rachel kisses Melissa, who then confesses her attraction to Rachel. She immediately recants her confession.

bullet2001-MAY: The writers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer broke new ground when they portrayed a gradually developing lesbian relationship between two Witches, Willow (played by Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (played by Amber Benson). The "Willow" character apparently is shown as having a bisexual orientation. Her relationship with a male star, Oz, failed. This is believed to be the first instance on television where a developing same-sex relationship has been accurately portrayed by two main continuing characters in a series.

bullet2001: Minute Maid sponsored an ad that featured Popeye and his arch-rival Bluto. In the past, the two were always shown fighting. But in this commercial, they played on the swings and sea-saw, they buried each other in sand and got tattoos together that said "Buddies for Life." Later, they drive a bicycle-built-for-two and pass their mutual friend, Olive Oyl. They don't seem to notice her. Although the gay overtones are obvious, Minute Maid spokesperson Dan Shafer denied that this was the intent of the ad. He said: "We're not going to go there. Any intent to draw a (gay relationship) parallel would be wrong. Anyone who knows Popeye and Bluto understands that's not the case, there's no intent like that."

bullet2002-FEB-14: Revealing what was probably the worst-kept secret in entertainment history, Rosie O'Donnel's lesbian orientation was revealed on the women's discussion program, The View.

bullet2003-FEB: According to Agape Press: "Marvel Comics has announced that 'The Rawhide Kid,' a Marvel character since the 1950s, will make his first appearance as a homosexual in a February release. In an Associated Press report, Marvel's editor-in-chief Joe Quesada states that while the character will not come right out and say he is homosexual, it will be 'obvious through his actions and the things he says that his preference is men, not women.' " 1 [It is worth noting that if his "preference" is for men rather than women as a sexual partner, then his sexual orientation is apparently bisexual rather than homosexual.]

bullet2003-APR: The ABC network announced on APR-15 that Eden Riegel and Olga Sosnovska, playing the roles of Bianca and Lena on All My children, will share a kiss during the APR-23 episode. This is believed to be the first lesbian kiss on the daytime soaps. 2

bullet2003-4 Season: Many TV programs with homosexual theme include "Will and Grace" "Queer as Folk," "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," and "Boy Meets Boy." Madonna sang kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera briefly on MTV Video Music Awards, after the latter sang "Like a Virgin" to her. Later that week, Meredith Vieira re-enacted Madonna's kiss with Associated Press write, Christy Lemire on The View. North America responded with a collective yawn. On SEP-21, during the Emmy awards, Brad Garrett kissed comedian Garry Shandling in the spirit of Madonna.

bullet2003-Summer: The Bravo cable network introduced Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in which five gay males revamp a straight person's appearance, clothing, and living space. It quickly became Bravo's most successful program to date.

bullet 2004-FEB: A single anonymous posting on a popular gay gossip forum on FEB-01 exploded into a news item on CNN within a little more than a week. The rumor was that Marcia Cross, who plays Bree Van De Camp on the hit TV show Desperate Housewives is, in real life, a lesbian. She denied the rumor on the FEB-09 episode of The View, saying: "It's very odd and I assume it's what comes with being 42 and single." Actually, it is "Bree's" son, the pot-smoking problem teen, who came out of his closet in a future episode. A new rumor has surfaced: that another Desperate Housewives cast member is going to reveal that she/he is gay in real life. That story also fizzled out.

bullet2004-FEB-20: History was made when not one but two fictional characters came out of the closet -- to viewers at least -- within two hours. Also, one was caught in a same-sex encounter:

bulletOn The Simpsons, Marge Simpson's sister Patty revealed her sexual orientation and her intention of entering into a same-sex marriage . The marriage fell through when her partner was exposed to be a man who disguised himself as a woman because he loved Patty.

bulletOn Desperate Housewives, "Justin," played by Ryan Carnes, revealed himself as being unsure of his sexual orientation. A passionate kiss from another wife on Wisteria Lane produced no sparks; this seems to have settled any doubt that Justin is truly gay.

bulletAlso on Desperate Housewives, "Andrew Van De Camp," played by Shawn Pyrfrom, was spotted kissing Justin in a swimming pool. He is the teenaged son of "Bree Van De Camp" on Desperate Housewives. In future episodes, this development causes his mother to worry whether her overbearing nature caused his homosexual orientation; this is a common belief among religious conservatives, many of whom consider that the main "reasons" for men becoming gay is an overbearing mother, distant father, and/or sexual molestation.

bullet2005-DEC-09: The movie Brokeback Mountain was released to a few theatres in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Broad distribution came in 2006-JAN. It is described in the media as covering the lives of two homosexual cowboys in Wyoming. Actually, the story deals with two  sheep herders with a bisexual orientation, and it was photographed in Calgary, AB, Canada. It was nominated for more 2006 Academy Awards than any other film. More details.

bullet2006-MAR-19: The movie C.R.A.Z.Y. is a coming-of-age tale about growing up gay in Roman Catholic Quebec, Canada, from the 1960s to the 1980s. It received ten awards at Canada's Genie awards earlier in March. It won 14 awards at the Prix Juntra French Canadian movie awards. It took the top prize in every category in which it was nominated, including Best Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Actor.

bullet2007-Fall: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAD) found that there were 7 actors portraying gay, lesbian, and bisexual regular characters scheduled in prime-time program series. They accounted for 1.1% of all of the regular characters, down from 1.3% in 2006.

bullet2008-SEP-22: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation found that networks had drastically increased the number of actors playing gay, lesbian, and bisexual regular characters scheduled in prime-time program series. They totaled 16 or 2.6% of all of the regular characters -- more than twice as many as in the previous season. The Fox network went from 0 characters last year to 5 this year. Among the new characters are "Thirteen" a female physician specializing in internal medicine, portrayed by Olivia Wilde on the "House" series. "Do Not Disturb" has a gay man.

There are 19 recurring characters who appear in occasional episodes are gay, lesbian or bisexual. This is an increase over the 13 in 2007.

GLAAD President Neil Giuliano said:

"As the networks gradually add characters from all backgrounds and all walks of life to prime-time programming, more and more Americans are seeing their LGBT friends and neighbors reflected on the small screen." 4

There are some TV shows which have gay or lesbian characters for which we do not have the starting date:

bulletKerry Weaver is Chief of Emergency Medicine and a lesbian on "ER."

bulletBad Girls is a UK program with main characters who are lesbians.

Gina Caprio, a writer for wrote about progress made by LGBTs in Hollywood during 2011:

"2011 was year that being gay in Hollywood seemed even more fabulous. It showed a lot has changed when celebrities had to hide in the closet for fear of losing their popularity. Many believe that Hollywood is a liberal land that is open to people's sexuality but it is also the land where appearances and audience's approval dictate so much. But in 2011, many stars stayed true to themselves and publically came out of the closet. From Zachary Quinto, star of 2009's blockbuster film 'Star Trek' to CNN's anchor Don Lemon, we saw that America has transformed into a more accepting country for it was only a few years ago that the public would have blacklisted such celebrities who are our television sets almost nightly. 2011 was also an amazing year for LGBTQ award show hosts. Both Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted the Tony Awards and Jane Lynch, who hosted The Emmys practically stole their respected shows with an astounding exhibition of their talents. Perhaps the most outstanding Hollywood event was the performance by Chaz Bono on 'Dancing With the Stars.' Chaz Bono has earned his notoriety by bringing public awareness that our transgendered brothers and sisters are deserving of the respect and equality that we all want." 5

References used:

  1. Allie Martin and Jody Brown, "Marvel Comics Puts Homosexuality in the Saddle," Agape Press, 2002-DEC-11, at:
  2. "Lesbian kiss is daytime first," Associated Press, approximately 2003-APR-15, published by the Toronto Star, 2003-APR-16, Page F4.
  3. "The Jutras C.R.A.Z.Y. in love with Quebec's coming-of-age film," Toronto Star, 2006-MAR-21. Page C7.
  4. "Study: Series TV showing more gays, lesbians," Associated Press, 2008-SEP-23, at:
  5. Gina Caprio, "2011: A look back on LGBTQ equality,", 2012-JAN-01, at:

Site navigation: Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Agenda & news > Media > here

Copyright © 1999 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2012-JAN-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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