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ABC leads the way with gay-friendly programming

Pat Robertson may not like to hear it, but it’s a good time to be a gay person on TV.

Not since “Will & Grace” has there seemed to be so much representation of the LGBT community on television, and despite anything Robertson says, it’s nice to see a culture that is moving closer and closer to acceptance.

One of the best shows for gay people at the moment is “Brothers & Sisters,” ABC’s drama that features a gay brother (Kevin, played by Matthew Rhys) among its ensemble cast. Kevin is neither a secondary character nor a gay stereotype. Rather, he is an integral member of the show’s family, and he is a real person with real-person problems. He’s just as neurotic as everyone else on the show, and he has just as many relationship problems. In fact, “Brothers & Sisters” is one of the few shows I can think of that shows a gay character in a realistic relationship: kissing, sex and declarations of love. The same can barely be said for “Will & Grace,” which showed homosexual displays of affection only sparingly.

Furthermore, there have been hints that another character on the show might be gay, which would be especially groundbreaking because the character is more than 50 years old.

But wait! There’s more! Just when you thought “Desperate Housewives” couldn’t get any gayer, there’s news that a gay couple might be moving to Wisteria Lane to take part in all the drama. Creator Marc Cherry has already proven he can make a good gay villain with Bree’s son, Andrew, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does with a gay couple that is bound to have some juicy secrets.

ABC continues its gay-friendliness with “Ugly Betty,” whose gay characters match the show’s flamboyant, over-the-top style. They are complete stereotypes of what people expect gay men to be like, but at least they are there. And one of them, Betty’s nephew, is barely even past puberty. So while NBC and CBS lag, ABC’s got the entire age range of homosexuality covered.

Even Oprah feels the love. I’ve lost track of all the gay people she’s had on the show, and now she’s going on a transgendered binge. Last week, she had transgendered teens, and pretty soon she’ll have transgendered adults on the show to talk about their often misunderstood lives.

On the other side of the spectrum, further signifying that our culture has moved on to a more mature mode of thinking about gay people, we now have gay actors playing straight characters. T.R. Knight from “Grey’s Anatomy” and Neil Patrick Harris from “How I Met Your Mother” are both openly gay, yet they’ve remained in their roles as happy heterosexuals – and they are not any less convincing. Sure, gay actors have been acting straight for ages, but these two actors are different because they don’t need to hide anymore.

I haven’t even covered everything – there’s Ellen Degeneres, with her successful talk show, and Logo, the successful gay cable channel, and Showtime’s “The L Word.” One soap opera even has a lesbian character.

It took me writing this column to realize just how well-represented homosexuality is on today’s TV – but I can promise you it isn’t an elaborate brainwashing scheme or a plan to ruin the world. It’s a little something I like to call progress.

msevits@dailyemerald.com

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