Friday, February 12, 2010

Gay Teen TV (beware, some Ugly Betty series finale spoilers!!!)

Sadly, it was announced recently, that ABC’s Ugly Betty, one of the most LGBTQ-friendly shows on network television, will be coming to an end in tandem with the end of this, its fourth, season. A silver lining to this sad rain cloud, however, is that Justin, the fabulous teenage nephew of Betty, will be coming out of the closet before the show’s end. According to Michael Ausiello at Entertainment Weekly, he got the news that Justin would find his way out of the closet this season directly from the show creator, Silvio Horta.

With Justin finally coming out, after four years of audience’s speculation, it got me to thinking about out gay teens on television. Justin is not the first, but he is certainly among a select few. Now we have Kurt on FOX’s Glee, who, it is rumored, will be getting a boyfriend in the second half of this season (due to start back up in April, after American Idol). However, it all started many (or, really only several) years ago with Ricky, from My So-Called Life, in 1994. He was one of the first teenage, gay characters of any importance on television. He was never what we would call “out,” definitively, but it was treated as no big secret. Degrassi was another groundbreaking show in terms of representing gay teens with its character of Mario.

ABC Family’s Greek was lauded for its representation of Calvin, a black, gay fraternity brother who succumbs to few stereotypes. Another great gay, teen character in recent years is Marshall, from Showtime’s The United States of Tara.

These examples highlight only a few of the most noteworthy gay teens on television in recent years (not that there are scads to choose from). They were chosen for their good story lines and a regular status on the show. Many shows throughout recent years have had gay teens that play lesser roles or are only around for one episode or plot arc dealing with gay issues.

One remarkable characteristic, however, of these gay teens on television, is that they are overwhelmingly male. In fact, the only teen lesbian character that I can think of who was a regular on primetime television is Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But this should come as no surprise. The ratio between gay men and lesbians of any age depicted in narrative television is disproportionate, to say the least.

Why do you think this is?

What are some other similarities you notice about gay, teen characters on TV?

Post a comment and let me know!



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