Before there was Glee, Modern Family, and the entire Logo network, there was a young, closeted, terrified gay kid growing up in the mountains of Virginia, who had only the occasional "very special episode" of his favorite TV shows to help him feel understood. I still remember the excitement of seeing my favorite characters not only openly discuss gay relationships, but show support and love for the gay characters who needed it so badly. In doing so, they showed that love and support to me, and as a result these shows had a major impact on my life. Here are the moments from those shows, ordered by how much my lil heartstrings still get tugged when I think about them :) .
5) Willow & Tara Slow Dance - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I joined the BTVS wagon a little late in the game (my first episode was when she died at the end of season five...talk about a buzzkill). But I remember seeing the closeness between Willow & Tara as they danced to Melanie Doane's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and totally bought into their girl-on-girl love. There really hadn't been an LGBT relationship between 2 main characters on a major show at the time, and it's one of the sweetest relationships in TV history, gay or straight.
4) Steve Sanders is a Homophobe - Beverly Hills, 90210
All the 90210 kids were cool in my eyes. Except Steve Sanders. He was the screw-up, the insensitive guy who usually chose to do the wrong thing. Which is why the episode when his homophobia led him to out a fraternity brother, ultimately leading even him to see that gay people are no different inside, worked so well. If Steve Sanders was accepting of his gay friend, then everyone should be. Also, Kelly Taylor spoke up for gay rights while creating a "Men of CU" calendar. And when Kelly Taylor speaks up for anything, the world should listen.
3) Luke's Dad is What Now? - The O.C.
Luke was the jerky jock who tossed homophobic slurs around as often as Ryan Atwood wore wifebeaters. Which is why it was so captivating to watch him deal with the bigotry and secrecy revolving around his dad's coming out. In the end, this was the episode that made Luke likeable, which was no small feat. It also was the show I made my parents watch to test them on their reaction to gay people, just months before I came out. The courage it took to make my parents watch 2 gay men kiss on a TV show was no small feat either.
2) Blanche's Brother is a Hobo? - The Golden Girls
It's hard to take a topic that's so sensitive, and create 30 minutes of hilarity and gut-wrenching emotion. But that's what the Golden Girls excelled at. Blanche's brother's coming out was only one of a handful of gay-themed episodes, during the 80s no less. Rue McLanahan's initial reaction was cringe-worthy, yet honest to what a lot of families experience. But that made her eventual acceptance of him all the more powerful. I didn't even know I was gay yet, but I knew there was something really cool about a family accepting someone despite not understanding such a big part of their life.
1) Danny - The Real World: New Orleans
Sigh. Just typing his name makes me smile. He was the first real person I'd ever seen talk about his life as a gay man, and he's the reason I finally figured out that I was gay too. He filmed a special with his then-boyfriend about how hard it was hiding their love due to Don't Ask Don't Tell, during a time when I was hiding my life as well. I was so inspired and encouraged, that I came out to my friends just a few days after that special. Imagine my joy when he came to my college campus a few months later, and I got to share my story, and his impact on my life, with him in person.
People don't always get the acceptance, support, or inspiration that they need in their own lives. I think that's why all kinds of entertainment (TV, music, books, and more) can mean so much to people. That's where my love of these mediums comes from, and I thought it a perfect way to kick off my new blog. Peace.