In the movement for gay equality, it is important to advance on all fronts. Knocking on doors, phonebanking and contacting legislators are all important, but perhaps the most powerful method of advancement is through entertainment media. Here are the Top 5 gay television moments from 2009.
5. Modern Family is one of the most critically acclaimed comedies of 2009, due in no small part to the show’s leading gay couple. There are the same old arguments in the gay community as to whether the gay storyline is too stereotypical, but when everyone relaxes, it’s evident that in the midst of all the hilarity, there are some really sweet moments. The fifth best gay moment of the year comes in the show’s pilot when the gay couple presents their adopted baby to the family in a Simba-like presentation from The Lion King. The family’s patriarch provides a heartfelt approval when his heart melts at the sight of his new granddaughter.
4. RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of the best TV shows of this decade. The show celebrates a part of the gay community that is often shunned in the journey for equality. While political strategists are following polling data and focus group tested messages that often de-gay the gay rights movement, there is a lot to learn from a show that celebrates the world of drag without apology. Ongina, the adorable Pilipino Drag Queen captured one of the most powerful TV Gay moments of the year, when she came out as HIV positive on the show, even though her family in real life did not yet know. Images of AIDS in popular culture have diminished significantly in recent years as the dangerous blasé attitude toward HIV continues to grow. Ongina’s storyline reminded a primarily gay audience that AIDS is not over and prevention/education efforts are still extremely important.
3. When it was first reported that a group of four gay guys and a trans woman were going to be on America’s Best Dance Crew, I was simultaneously excited and terrified. How would the MTV audience greet them? How would the show’s hip hop loving demographic react? In an amazing moment, Vogue Evolution took the stage and brought an epic performance that won over the crowd and the judges. It was beyond refreshing to see five young talented people be unapologetic about who they are. They showcased the underground gay ballroom scene to the world and they put a different face on the LGBT community. Vogue Evolution didn’t end up winning the show, but they did win over the hearts and minds of a lot of young people.
2. Glee is quite possibly the gayest show on television, so it isn’t surprising that it would offer such a graceful coming out storyline that is soaked in reality. The moment appeared in one of the most classic episodes of the show’s wildly successful first season. After winning the big football game because of an on-field performance of Beyonce’s "Single Ladies," Kurt’s blue-collar father tells Kurt that he is proud of him, which prompts Kurt to bravely tell his father that he is gay. The show could have had his father react extremely negative or extremely positive, but instead he reacted in a way that an Ohio mechanic who loves his son would hopefully react in reality. He tells Kurt that he has known he was gay since he was three and that while he isn’t crazy about the idea, it doesn’t change how much he loves him. The coming out moment was extremely well-handled, but Glee’s overall power is that it packages a deep gay sensibility within a popular show that transcends demographic. It’s impact is far reaching, as evidenced by the Glendale High School (California) football team’s amazing performance of "Single Ladies" in response to the Glee episode.
1. There was only one lesbian storyline in primetime-scripted television in 2009, which is alarming and depressing, but even though lesbians are severely underrepresented, perhaps solace can be found in the fact that the one lesbian storyline contained the best gay moment on TV in 2009. On Grey’s Anatomy, Callie Torres was disowned by her father after coming out to him, but after much time apart, her father came back to see her, with a priest in tow to “pray away the gay.” The best gay moment came when Callie powerfully counteracts anti-gay biblical verses by yelling a series of quotes by Jesus and closing it by saying “Jesus is my Savior daddy, not you. And Jesus would be ashamed of you for judging me, he would be ashamed of you for turning your back on me, he would be ashamed."
Many people in and out of pop culture have tried to expose the hypocrisy of highlighting Leviticus 18:22, while ignoring all of the other “moral laws” in Leviticus that are now laughed at, but there is something so succinct, strong and moving about Callie’s speech –- it should become the default reply anytime the Bible is being used as a weapon against our rights.
Now it is your turn. What are your favorite gay TV moments from 2009? Leave them in the comments section.
(Photo Courtesy of Peace+Love=Happiness)