It may seem glib, but in truth, television and the entertainment industry is the best example of past generations and their values. Yes, a lot was censored, or overlooked, or ignored, but when we consider the opportunity we have today, television is our best recorder for future posterity.
We have the original Ellen series, and her new show (if it lasts), as well as performers like Melissa Etheridge who have several hit CDs to prove the value of open homosexuality and the level of talent possible when you don't have to worry about hiding who you are. We even have a few out actors, and a few closet cases who aren't very good at acting or covering themselves.
If I Could Turn Back Time
A Gay Opinion 12/21/00
by R.A. Melos
Well, we will all see what the future political climate has in store for the American homosexual in the new millennium. When I look at how far the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) community has come, and how much further the community has to go until there is complete acceptance, I wonder what it would have been like to live in a world even slightly more accepting of alternative lifestyles?
Television's Will & Grace seems to be the most main streamed show to hit the airwaves in years. Not too many people even remember the times when a gay based cable show called Brothers was the only show on the tube which even suggested homosexuality might be other than something deviant.
Okay, so now we've got Dr. Laura to shout deviant, while SHOWtime broadcasts the wonderful series, Queer As Folk. I wonder what early television, the shows many of us grew up watching in the 60s and 70s would have been like with a more accepting view toward homosexuality?
I'm guessing, if homosexuality had been more acceptable, Fred and Ethel Mertz might have been the wacky gay neighbors of the Ricardos, and Fred would've been played by a very butch woman, perhaps Marjorie Maine instead of the jovial William Frawley. Or Sally Rogers wouldn't have lamented to Rob and Laura Petrie of how Herman Glimpshire was her only prospect of marriage, on the Dick Van Dyke Show.
When I think about the possibilities of plot twists which would've existed for Samantha's Uncle Arthur on Bewitched, or Mrs. Muir explaining to the ghost of Captain Gregg how his great nephew, Claymore, was coming out of the closet, on The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, I wonder if they would've been handled with tack?
Our world has taken great strides forward in acceptance, which may eventually result in education on homosexuality as a natural lifestyle, and not just an alternative to the horrors of heterosexuality, as I like to refer to it. However, so much has been placed on the shoulders of the next generations of gay youth in the way of hopes and expectations, I wonder if the burden is too much?
Are we, the GLBT community, and all those who are accepting of our lifestyles, expecting and hoping for something which is far beyond our lifetimes? I honestly think so. No matter how much it pains me to say it, even though it looks like progress will never stop, and the GLBT community will fight each fight valiantly, and eventually surmount all obstacles, I doubt many of us currently alive, even the very young, will live to see a day when equality on a global scale truly means equality for all.
Just because I don't see this happening in our lifetimes, doesn't mean we should just give up and leave all the work to the next generation. We all have to act in our GLBT community best interests, if we want someone in a future society to look back and judge us, as they will, by the only solid records they have of our lives, our entertainment programming.
We've seen Rosanne not only accept homosexual friends, but dabble in a lesbian kiss, as has Ally McBeal (like that wasn't a total David E. Kelley fantasy scene?), and now John Goodman is finally putting a normal face on homosexuality in Normal Ohio. (Since canceled.)
Yes, the way we perceive homosexuality has changed a great deal since those early days of Josephine the Plumber peddled Liquid Plumber, and Uncle Joe snoozed on the porch of the Shady Rest Hotel in Petticoat Junction. Times have changed, and I wouldn't change a thing about the past, with perhaps the exception of allowing Kitten to have a girlfriend on Father Knows Best, or giving Gilligan and the Skipper one hammock instead of two.
Well, we at least got to have Willow and Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. So what if Ruben Kincade didn't have a hot roadie named Shaggy on the Partridge Family? Maybe a future feature film version will allow Ruben some roadie fun?
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