This Tuesday, Fox’s Houston affiliate ran a news segment about Glee, asking “Is TV Too Gay?” Now what exactly is that supposed to mean? Let’s find out! Fox anchor Damali Keith reported that so-called family values groups have taken issue with the show because it “delves too much into homosexual relationships.” First of all, these groups are not about “family values”, and to describe them as such is to be complicit in that facade. The values they stand for aren’t generous enough to include families with gay parents or families with gay children. To them, a family is something for straight people only. So when they talk about “too much” homosexuality, their idea of “too much” is anything more than none whatsoever. Those are their “family values”.
To represent these groups, Fox decided to solicit the opinion of Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. If you aren’t familiar with Bryan Fischer, he’s the one who called gay people domestic terrorists who are responsible for the Holocaust and shouldn’t be able to hold public office. Even the AFA does their best to keep him out of public view after he said Native Americans deserved to be conquered because they weren’t Christian. The fact that Fox would see no problem with inviting such a person to share his views is really quite staggering.
Fischer is concerned that shows like Glee are “glamorizing homosexual behavior”, which is supposedly “presented in a way that makes it idealistic.” But just what is this “homosexual behavior” he’s talking about? Nothing that straight people aren’t doing. So what makes this something that’s being idealized? To people like Fischer, any depiction of gay people that doesn’t portray them as criminals, murder victims or AIDS patients must be a promotion of some sort. By their standards, even completely normal gay people who are no different from anyone else are somehow “glamorizing” this. And that’s exactly what they don’t want to see.
Remarkably, Damali Keith goes along with this, hinting that it’s some kind of “product placement”: “You throw a soda in a movie and within a few seconds, everybody in the theater is thirsty for that particular brand.” As if gay people’s lives are of no more import than a Pepsi ad. Would she be reducing straight people to nothing but a marketing ploy? Or are we the only ones whose mere presence on TV is inherently suspect?
What kind of “product placement” does she think this is? I don’t know if anyone ever told her this, but it doesn’t work that way. That’s like saying that watching the Olympics is going to turn people into figure skaters. Sure, some people might find that it really speaks to who they are and go on to live a more fulfilled life, and that’s wonderful. But most people know they’re just not cut out for being gay. Television isn’t going to make people any more gay than they were before, and we are not just some kind of “product”.
Keith then asks if having the show on at 7 is “too early”, which of course Bryan Fischer agrees with. So what time is appropriate? Are gay people condemned to share the midnight hours with Jerry Springer reruns and Girls Gone Wild commercials? Since when are straight people the only ones who get to see the light of day? What is it that makes this so intolerably different, it can only be aired when no one’s watching? According to Bryan Fischer’s reasoning, which is almost too ridiculous to be offensive, people can contract AIDS from drug use and from gay sex – so gay sex is just as bad as drug use. Because, as we all know, straight people never get AIDS, and certainly not from straight sex. When your only argument relies on stereotyping gay people as diseased vermin, you might want to think twice before dazzling us with your cleverness.
So, is TV too gay? Well, just what is “too gay”? Has the overwhelming majority of straight people on TV suddenly become insufficient? For Bryan Fischer and his “family values” brigade, even a handful of gay characters is “too gay”. Why? Because it means that straight people no longer have a monopoly on normalcy. And what was this manufactured controversy about? An episode that featured “two same-sex couples in high school.” Two! Clearly no high school could have not one, but two gay couples.
For the kids who are watching this show, it’s simply unrealistic to pretend that gay people don’t exist. They know gay people. They have gay friends who are just like them. They understand that gay people aren’t just some fictional construction. They’re actual human beings. The reason these groups want television to be for straights only is because they want the world to be for straights only. And it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to ignore the fact that gay people do exist. We are not a species apart from straight people. We are not some hidden shame within society. We have the same struggles and triumphs as everyone else, and nothing can erase us.
Damali Keith needs to realize that gay people aren’t going away, we aren’t going to be segregated from heterosexuals, and we won’t be reduced to a “product”. It’s easy to understand when you stop attributing some nefarious intent to our mere existence, and start seeing us as people.