The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) recently announced an academic research project about the coming-out storyline on ABC's top-rated soap opera "All My Children." On December 22, 2000, Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegal), the daughter of Erica Kane (Susan Lucci), made soap opera history when she revealed that she is a lesbian.
GLAAD's Research and Analysis department initiated this project to explore a more comprehensive understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) representations in current entertainment television. The character of Bianca is ground breaking for a number of reasons: she is a member of a core daytime family and is therefore a long-term character; she is clearly part of the lesbian community; and the storyline was introduced through the context of her relationship with another woman.
Since the character's introduction, the soap opera has dealt with many issues related to her coming out process, her relationship with her mother, peer and parental issues regarding coming out, reparative therapy, and Bianca's attempts at maintaining a romantic relationship.
"Bianca's presence on 'All My Children' is a soap opera first because she is a long-term lesbian character on a hit soap opera, exploring our issues in a sensitive and complex manner," said Joan M. Garry. GLAAD's Executive Director. "This analysis will give us insight into both the real-life impact of entertainment representations and the behind-the-scenes work necessary to create such a genuine representation."
Lee Harrington, a sociologist at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, will conduct the study. Professor Harrington has coauthored a book, "Soap Fans," and has written articles and book chapters that deal with youth culture, popular culture, and television. GLAAD has commissioned Harrington to study fan reactions to the storyline, and the ways in which the storyline is developed over the next six months.