Hop Against Homophobia

As part of the Hop Against Homophobia blog hop (http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com) in honor of the International Day Against Homophobia (May 17), I have been asked to talk about my perceptions and experience with homophobia.  As a writer, I think the place where you can gauge social issues best is in the everyday entertainment that people seek out on their own.

Hop Against Homophobia

In 1995, when I was still in medical school, I remember seeing a news story on how a popular soap opera, All My Children, was going to be featuring a storyline containing a gay male character, Michael Delaney.  Out of curiosity, I set my VCR (remember those?) to record the show, and began to watch.  The promised storyline was of a high school teacher, while discussing the Holocaust, who reveals to his class that he is gay (http://youtu.be/m63fRN2cdI8).  He was immediately canned from his teaching job (of course), and the major characters did an interesting dance of taking sides on whether it was okay to be gay, especially if one has influence over young minds.  Eventually, after a polarizing storyline that culminated in a murder trial, he gained a measure of acceptance from several of the major characters.  One of his students, Kevin Sheffield, came out during the storyline and faced the retribution of his family, which eventually led to a storyline about gay “deprogramming” (aka conversion or reparative therapy).  He also eventually found a measure of acceptance.

That was all well and good, and the show’s writers should be praised for their efforts.  But what was the fate of those characters in the long run?  The teacher was written out of the show after two years, followed by the student.  I think that says more about the audience’s acceptance of the show’s message than anything else.

Fast forward to 2005, and another gay soap opera storyline came to my attention, this time on As the World Turns, when the son of one of the power couples, Luke Snyder, falls for his straight best friend and comes out to his parents after going to various extreme measures to conceal his orientation in the face of his father’s growing suspicions (http://www.youtube.com/user/MarkDutchViewer has posted most of the episodes of Luke’s story).  After an intense internal conflict, his family eventually comes to accept him wholeheartedly.  Of note, the best friend rejects him and their friendship more or less ends.

So what happened to that character?  He remained a regular on the show, and in 2007 a love interest was created in character Noah Mayer.  The two of them went through many trials, but remained committed to each other in spite of them, until they finally broke up in 2010, though they continued to interact through the course of Luke’s next relationship (Luke and Noah’s story was faithfully chronicled by http://www.youtube.com/user/LukeVanFan).  The two gay characters remained series regulars from their introduction though the entire remainder of the show’s run, until it went off the air in 2010.

What a difference a decade makes!  In 1995, the AMC gay storyline was a flash in the pan, but in 2005, the ATWT storyline was fully incorporated into the mythology of the show.  That’s progress, but there’s still a long way to go.  Witness the passage of North Carolina’s Amendment One by 60% of the state electorate.  My thoughts on THAT particular travesty are here.  Complacency only leads to retrenchment of opposition to the GLBT community’s right to exist as equal citizens in a modern and civilized society.

As a writer who employs a number of gay characters, set in a society that accepts them without question, I hope I may have some small part in erasing the blight of homophobia on our social conscience.  Please feel free to leave a comment below.  I will perform a random drawing from the comments submitted up until May 20th, and award the winner with a free print copy of my first book, Sunset (should he or she desire it).  Please include a valid email address when you post (it is not necessary to include the address in the text of the post itself), and I will contact the winner for their shipping details.

(Note: I reserve the delete comments from my site which are needlessly abusive, flagrantly inflammatory, or contain obvious advertisements.)

Don’t forget to take a look at the thoughts of the other participants in the blog hop at http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com.

 

Respectfully,

Arshad Ahsanuddin

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20 Responses to “Hop Against Homophobia”

  1. KimberlyFDR says:

    Love should always triumph over hate and I believe it always will.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post and for taking part in the hop!

    kimberlyFDR@yahoo.com

  2. Danny says:

    Thanks for taking part in the hop and for the great post

  3. Barb says:

    Arshad, first of all thanks for sharing your participation to this blog hop on Goodreads – I followed you, albeit quite late! :-)
    And thanks also for the TV update – I stopped watching TV in the early 1990s, except for the short lived British series Queer as Folk (never watched the American version, LOL)! :-)
    Best!

  4. kleidung perfekt glätten…

    Hop Against Homophobia – Pact Arcanum- by Author Arshad Ahsanuddin…

  5. kerry says:

    thank you for sharing this with us today. I think this is an important cause that needs the spotlight shining on it.

    musings-of-a-bookworm@hotmail.co.uk

  6. Yvette says:

    Thanks for the blog post
    Yvette
    yratpatrol@aol.com

  7. Suze says:

    Interest points in your post Arshad. I’ve enjoyed reading all the different views

  8. Foretta says:

    Thanks for participating in the hop. This is a great cause that I pray one day will not be needed.

    forettarose@yahoo.com

  9. thanks for being a part of the hop :)

    raynman1979 at yahoo dot com

  10. T. Baggins says:

    Great post. So nice to see that a top-rated prime time program (Modern Family) can now have a male gay couple as a major part of the show. The soaps helped to make it all possible.

  11. Layladawna says:

    Thanks for your post, it’s been great reading the varying posts from the hop participants.

  12. L.M. Brown says:

    It sounds like the US spaps have a better handle on homosexual characters than the UK ones do.

    I remember when Brookside made the news for having the first lesbian kiss on a UK soap back in 1994 though I didn’t watch it myself. I do remember thinking what a fuss.

    The only soap I actually watch regularly is Eastenders and they can’t seem to make their mind up what to do with their homosexual characters. They seem to favour irritating stereotypes and the one time they seem to be getting a decent storyline which tackles issues properly they start it and then seem to forget about it.

    They have the flamboyant Christian, who is probably the most likeable of the current gay characters, but still rather stereotyped.

    Syed, who they had a great opportunity to delve into religion v homosexuality with and kind of forgot about it.

    And Ben… who they had clearly set up to be gay years ago from the amount of stereotyping they drummed into that particular character.

    Er, yeah, I seem to be on a soapbox in more ways than one right now. Sorry about that.

  13. Erica Pike says:

    Loved the rundown of those shows. Great way to prove a point. I remember Melrose Place back in the day (yes, I remember video devices) and it had a gay storyline of Matt (still remember his name). It was one of the things from my teen years saying that there was nothing unnatural about being gay. He was on air for a very long time: 1992-1997, or until he was killed in a car crash.

    Wiki says: “The one planned instance of Matt’s kissing another man was edited to remove the kiss, with a reaction shot of another character substituted. Broadcaster Fox and series creator Darren Star feared backlash from social conservatives and advertisers should Matt engage in any sexual conduct.”

    Maybe he should have chanced it, I don’t know, but I still commend Darren Star for having a gay character on that show.

    I also love how many shows there are now that feature gay characters. Yes, many show them in a wrong light, but there are many that don’t.

  14. Ashley E says:

    At least we’re making some progress. Thanks so much for sharing.

    ashley.vanburen[at]gmail[dot]com

  15. S.A. Reid says:

    Great analysis, and very true. I can remember being *so* excited that Dynasty had a gay character. But it turned out that Billy Crystal’s Jodie on Soap was better than Dynasty’s token dude. Things have indeed gotten better.

  16. NJ Nielsen says:

    Thanks for sharing such an interesting post with us all.

  17. gigi says:

    Thanks for participating in the HOP.

  18. Peggy says:

    Thanks for the post the hop was great.

    Peggy1984@live.com

  19. Amy says:

    I haven’t watched soaps since I was a teenager, but your description fits how society has changed well. Glad to know the soaps do move with the times.

    lina7391(at)hotmail(dot)com

  20. Arshad Ahsanuddin says:

    Thank you all for your participation!

    The winner, chosen by random.org, is Yvette (comment #6)!

    She has been sent a print copy of Sunset (Pact Arcanum #1).

    I hope she enjoys it.