A blogger has helped us take a walk through TV’s LGBTQ+ memory lane.
According to GLAAD’s 2017 – 2018 Where We Are Report, the organisations annual
report on LGBTQ+ inclusion, there were a total of 58 regular characters on broadcast scripted primetime that identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer. That equated to just 6.4% of all regular characters – the highest percentage since the beginning of the report.
To highlight this, Boy Culture’s Matthew Rettenmund put the matter into his own hands and decided to collate together all the LGBTQ+ characters to feature on U.S. television since the advent of the first American TV station in 1928 way up until the end of 2000. That’s 72 years worth of LGBTQ+ history to catch up to speed with.
Posting the lengthy list on Boy Culture, Rettenmund stated that the research for the list “took the time it would take to write a book,” but we’re ever grateful.
Speaking to Advocate about the list, he said that one of the reasons for creating the list was because “for LGBTQ people who aren’t political by nature, it’s nonetheless fascinating to learn bits of trivia related to our televised past.” He also added:
One thing that struck me as I compiled and fleshed out the list was that the process was not always a matter of the straight world narrating our existence, in spite of the obvious power structure in place. Queer people often played queer people, even if they were not, in real life, out. For example, gay actor Robert Drivas played a gay character on a 1972 episode of Hawaii Five-O before dying of AIDS in 1986.
The list is definitely worth bookmarking and taking the time to read through, we’ve included a couple of highlights below to perk your interest further:
- In 1951, ‘I Love Lucy’ offered perhaps the first televised reference to homosexuality. When Lucy is convinced her husband is trying to kill her, she reads a list of women’s names he wrote down and the final name is Theodore. This prompts Lucy to give a shocked reaction to the camera, confused as to why he may be having an affair with a man.
- The first episode of a TV show to focus on the topic of homosexuality was an April 1954 episode of ‘Confidential File’, which presented homosexuality as a social problem.
- The October 9, 1977 episode of ‘All In The Family’ features an off-camera mention of a lesbian character, which sees two characters fight for her inheritance.
- During October 24, 1966-August 20, 1979, The Hollywood Squares would feature American comic and actor Paul Lynde (recently portrayed by BenDeLaCreme on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars). The not-out star would often play up with double-entendre and obvious gay humour.