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Why is It So Hard to Get Away with Gay Intimacy on Network Television?

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The Interplay is a special bi-weekly series exploring the intersections of sex, pop culture, and current events.

BY CHARLES PULLIAM-MOORE

According to GLAAD’s recently published Where We Are On TV report, lesbian, gay, and bisexual characters are having a banner season. There are more explicitly queer characters on more shows across the board. Of the hundreds of regular and recurring characters gracing our screens this season, 170 were identified as being LGBT. Moreover on both network and cable, the representations of those characters are becoming more diverse and balanced in terms of ethnicity and sexuality. Looking at raw numbers, it’s easy to see that we’re everywhere on TV. It’s even easier to say that this particular instance of being everywhere is a good thing. Thing is though, it might not be. This fall’s crop of headlining queer are defined more by the sex they’re having than by their substance. 

Regardless of what you think about her shows, Shonda Rhimes’s programming on ABC has become something of a cultural phenomenon. In terms of ratings, How to Get Away With Murder and Scandal rank as two of the most popular and widely-acclaimed television shows airing this fall. Both programs prominently feature gay leading characters wrought in Rhimes’s signature hyperbolic style. 

Tumblr_mnfv58Xn6Y1s03u14o1_250Scandal’s Cyrus Beene, played by veteran stage actor Jeff Perry, is notable for being one of the few older queer characters given the spotlight. Throughout the series Beene and his husband James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky) plotted and backstabbed in proper Scandal fashion, and in many ways the characters’ sexualities were ancillary aspects of their personalities. How To Get Away With Murder’s Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) bears a striking resemblance to Cyrus Beene. Both are smart, conniving, career-driven men whose sexualities are sources of strength, rather than shame. To that end, neither show has shied away from portraying their gay characters’ sexual intimacy. 

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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MSNBC Looks at the Perplexing Relationship Between GOP Advertising and Modern Family: VIDEO

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Following a recent Washington Post study that found Republicans advertise more heavily during Modern Family commercial breaks than Democrats, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and guest Judah Friedlander (30 Rock) attempted to explain the seemingly inexplicable link.

Watch the discussion, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Eric Stonestreet: 'Cam is a Bossy, Fussy Bottom'

Screenshot 2014-07-27 14.56.48Eric Stonestreet, famous for his portrayal of Modern Family’s resident farm-raised house husband Cameron Tucker, spoke to the Huffington Post about his character’s sexuality, a topic that the show has made a point of avoiding addressing directly.

“Jesse [Tyler Ferguson] and I call Cam a ‘bossy, fussy bottom,’" the actor explained. "Now, what I get is a lot of guys who come up and want to challenge my sexuality."

Early in Modern Family’s run, ABC came under fire for its seeming refusal to acknowledge Cam and Mitchell’s (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) relationship aside from their referring to each other as “boyfriends.” A Facebook group titled “Let Cam & Mitchell Kiss on Modern Family” eventually brought enough attention to the omission of physical displays of affection that the network dedicated an entire episode to it.

Stonestreet also said that he is struck by the number of conservative politicians who appreciate his character:

Stonestreet said he was amazed at some of the conservative politicians who have approached him wanting to take photos. When Santorum did just that at a recent White House Correspondents Dinner, Stonestreet flat out refused.

“It was at a time when he was publicly saying, ‘Gay marriage, gay marriage’ and I’m like, ‘You know, I can’t do it,’” he said. “It was with him and his kids or something like that, and I said, ‘I’d be happy to take a picture with the kids,’ but I can’t just be in a picture with [Santorum.]”

The on-camera couple were finally married in the show’s most recent season, but their sex life has remained something of an obscure topic rarely touched upon in Modern Family’s five-season run.

Watch video of Stonestreet's interview AFTER THE JUMP...

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Iran's Remake Of 'Modern Family' Excludes Gay Characters - VIDEO

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Iranian television comedy Haft Sang, an almost scene-by-scene remake of Modern Family, has written out all gay characters or made them straight, according to Gay Star News.

The gender of other characters have also been changed to avoid mixing of the sexes before marriage.

The unauthorized remake tries to recreate the appeal of Modern Family within the religious guidelines of Iran’s theocratic state.

A comparison video made by an Iranian fan of Modern Family shows how blatantly Haft Sang has ripped off the ABC comedy.

Earlier this year, head of the American Family Association Bryan Fischer said that Modern Family is "poison", "harmful," and "lethal."

Watch Sina Haghighi’s comparison video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Facebook 'Kiss-In' Launched in Response to Negative Reactions to Michael Sam Kiss

Sam kiss

HuffPost editor Michelangelo Signorile has launched a Facebook "kiss-in" in response to negative reactions over the Michael Sam kiss.

KissinHe writes:

People just aren't used to seeing two men or two women kissing, even with all the news coverage of gay marriage. Judging by some of the reactions to the Sam/Cammisano kiss, I'm not sure what they think gay men in relationships do. Play checkers? (Well, maybe sometimes.) We see straight people kissing all the time, all over television, in magazines, in films, on the Internet. A lot of people who consider themselves pro-gay probably are uneasy about seeing gays kissing, just like a lot of people who in the past said they supported interracial marriage were probably uneasy when they saw two straight people of different races kissing (and some still are). And in this case, it's a gay black man and a gay white man kissing.

Signorile urges Facebook users to change their profile photos to two women or two men kissing.

He also references an article by Mark Joseph Stern at Slate which raises some of the same issues.

Stern makes a good case for why the negative reactions to the ESPN coverage of Michael Sam’s emotional kiss with his boyfriend prove gay people need to be more affectionate in public. 

Writes Stern:

Supporting gay rights means supporting gay people. And you can’t support gay people if you’re disgusted by their most basic and innocuous displays of affection.

Modern familyStill, on an emotional level, I can understand why an otherwise goodhearted straight person’s knee-jerk response to a gay kiss lands on the spectrum of discomfort. Gay PDA remains startlingly rare in 2014, thanks to an overwhelming history of anti-gay animus that makes every public kiss more than a little bit fraught. Even an ostensibly gay-friendly TV show like Modern Family gives mainstream America barely a glimpse at same-sex affection. And there’s an obvious feedback loop problem here: So long as gay people are uncomfortable kissing in public, straight people won’t be comfortable seeing it; so long as straight people are uncomfortable seeing it, gay people will hesitate to do it.

There’s really only one way to break this impasse: more gay kissing. Straight Americans needs to see more same-sex affection, and LGBTQ Americans are the only people who can provide it. Gay couples shouldn’t shrink from sharing a kiss in public, even if they risk drawing annoyed glances or angry tweets. Ten years ago, gay people were instructed to hide their sexuality lest they rub it in everyone’s faces. Today, we’re being told not to kiss in public—under the exact same rationale. There’s no reason to accept this pathetically irrational, plainly prejudiced party line. We should all be grateful to Michael Sam for sparking this conversation with his much-ballyhooed (and very innocent) kiss. But if we truly want to do justice to Sam’s already admirable legacy, we owe it to ourselves to follow his lead.


Eric Stonestreet Dishes With Ellen about Modern Family's Upcoming Gay Wedding: VIDEO

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Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet sat down with Ellen to share some behind-the-scenes info about the emotional shoot for Mitch and Cam’s upcoming wedding on the show.

Stonestreet also talked about his real parents welcoming actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson into the family now that he and Ferguson are "married"

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP

Yesterday, it was also announced that the show would celebrate the upcoming event by covering the cost of all marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies in NYC on Monday.

Continue reading "Eric Stonestreet Dishes With Ellen about Modern Family's Upcoming Gay Wedding: VIDEO" »


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