Hit TV Drama Sensitively Portrays Coming Out Of Series Regular, Sending Message Of Acceptance And Compassion
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Feb. 18 praised series creator and executive producer Kevin Williamson, the WB Network and the creative team of Dawson's Creek for bringing an openly gay teen to the hit television series.
On the Wednesday, February 10 episode of Dawson's Creek, series regular Jack McPhee (Kerr Smith) was forced to read a poem before his class, in which he spoke of his feelings toward another man. Jack denied subsequent rumors which were circulating at the fictitious Capeside High School, and ignored derogatory remarks made by other students, as well as an incident in which his locker was vandalized. Furthermore, Jack told girlfriend Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) that he was not gay. Yet on the February 17 episode, Jack came out to his father, his sister Andie (Meredith Monroe), and later to Joey. While his father disapproved, both Andie and Joey were supportive of him. Jack is the first openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender series regular on the WB Network, and joins twenty-five others on the growing list of diverse television representations.
"Dawson's Creek stayed away from stereotypes on this one," said GLAAD Entertainment Media Director Scott Seomin. "Jack is a strong character, written with intelligence, depth and integrity. Dawson's Creek has added to the diversity of gay characters on television with its positive portrayal of Jack. Kevin Williamson's work will educate viewers both gay and straight."
"Dawson's Creek painted a very accurate picture of the harassment gay and lesbian youth suffer in schools," said GLSEN Communications Director Jim Anderson. "The fact that 'fag' was written on Jack's locker, the fact that he suffered ridicule from classmates -- statistics show that harassment of this nature is a part of every day life for lesbian and gay students in schools across America. But just as tens of thousands of gay youth saw for the first time a representation of a young person struggling to come out, tens of thousands of non-gay youth learned that it's all right to stand up for gay friends and to support them as they move through that complicated process."
The show explored the impact of Jack's revelation upon Joey, Andie and Jack's father, and prompted many of the show's characters to discuss the issue of sexual orientation. The grandmother of Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams) reprimanded Jen's conservative and religious love interest, Tyson, for his criticism of Jack, noting that "If anything, that boy must be scared and alone, and he will need the understanding of his fellow man to help him through."
"GLAAD's work is all about the power of images: it's about the influence that Jack will have upon raising awareness among all Dawson's fans," said GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry. "The show really covered its bases, providing interesting perspectives on coming out. Showing Joey's reaction to the news that her boyfriend is gay added a new dimension which is often overlooked in even the best media representations. And Jen's grandmother is one of the best advocates I've heard in a long time. GLAAD applauds the entire team behind Dawson's Creek for its sensitive representation of a gay youth and the impact it has on his community. We look forward to sharing in Jack's experience in episodes to come."
For a complete list of regular and recurring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters on television, please refer to the "TV Scoreboard," available on GLAAD's website, GLAAD Online, at http://www.glaad.org/glaad/scoreboard/index.html.
GLAAD is the nation's lesbian and gay media advocacy organization. GLAAD promotes fair, accurate and inclusive representation of individuals and events in all media as a means of combating homophobia and all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network is the largest national organization dedicated to ending anti-gay bias in public, private and parochial K-12 school. Established nationally in 1994, GLSEN now has 85 chapters in communities across the country.