February 1998

Well, this is my first article to Oasis, though I've been lurking around and reading it for a while. So, here goes --

I thought I would start off with a brief introduction. My name is James (yes, yet another James), I'm a 21 years old, and I'm gay. I'm a college student in Virginia majoring in geology, hoping to go into paleontology as a career. I'm out to my immediate family and most of my friends. I was raised in a conservative, Catholic, military family (my dad is in the Air Force). So I turned out to be, well, conservative and Catholic (yes, a gay Catholic paleontologist - go figure). Anyway, I have reconciled my faith and my sexuality (and scientific views) and am comfortable with who and what I am -- and that's all that I really care about.

This month's article will be kind of, well, bitchy. I promise that they won't all be like this, but this is on my mind at the moment. With that said, I'll get on my soapbox now.

I am an avid watcher of 'Homicide' on NBC. The 1-2-98 episode involved (among other things) the investigation of the murder of a gay man. To make a long story short, at the end of the episode one of the characters (Tim Bayliss) went to dinner with the male proprietor of a restaurant catering to predominately homosexual clients. They never called it a "date", but the overtones were there (and I read in USA Today that the actor wanted Detective Bayliss to be bisexual).

So here's the Catch-22:

On one hand, television acts as a model for what we often want society to be. There are many situations on TV that (sadly) do not happen often in the real world. The ultimate acceptance of GLBT characters on television will have some good effects on the overall American conscience, small as it may be (the effect that is, not the conscience -- others might beg to differ though). So it could be good for the GLBT "movement" overall. I sure would feel good if nobody cared if a police officer, politician, or milkman is gay.

On the other hand, have you noticed that almost every show on TV has a superfluous gay character? Now 'Homicide' has taken a core character and made him superfluously gay! (This is also the character who was abused as a child - remember when that was the fad?) As I see it, this is the trend: 1) A social issue reaches the limelight. 2) The entertainment industry takes up the cause (a song is written, movies are made, TV shows follow suit....). 3) The cause ceases to be a cause and becomes a fashion statement instead. 4) Now the entire issue becomes a cliché that people will look back on, wondering "why did we do THAT"!?

Cynical you say? What about the red AIDS ribbon. Yes, We and PFLAG members (not to mention many others) are serious about AIDS awareness. But how many of those rich actor/actress twits do you really think give a flying rat's ass about AIDS? About half of them get married every time they make a movie only to end up in a messy and expensive divorce. The other half are in some sort of addiction recovery program, so they aren't worried about anything but getting a job so they don't end up one of the forgotten names of their time. The few who don't fall into these two categories are vegan airheads that make us wonder how they can function with so little brain mass. (Okay, so I am a bit cynical about Hollywood. I'll spare you the talk on politicians.) Nevertheless, with their behavior I don't want them supporting MY cause!

In short, while this general trend of the TV fantasy world accepting homosexuality is good, and I hope that people begin to see that we are people too, and should be treated accordingly. However, I think that it is becoming more a fad to have gay character on a show than a valid social message to the viewers. Ultimately it may serve only to cheapen both television and our fight to be accepted as equal in society.

Well, that's my two cents anyway. I promise that most of my articles will not be as bitchy as this one. Comments, questions, words of wisdom? Send 'em to <jsammons@wlu.edu> All letters will be read, most will be replied to. Thanks!!

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