April 15th, 2010
For four seasons ABC’s Ugly Betty has delighted us. Drawing on it’s Columbian telenova roots, it was over the top, lunatic, and histrionically dramatic. There were murders, embezzlements, and plots and schemes ranging from sabotaged runways to stolen sperm.
But in spite of the improbable antics (or perhaps because of them) this show managed to present America with a broad range of gay characters, full of depth, unique, and interesting. Gone were the sincere very special after school movie characters who were gay bashed or dying of AIDS. Absent were the poor rejected teen thrown out of the house by conservative and disapproving parents. There wasn’t even the obligatory closedted gay character brought on to bravely come out and fall in love only to be written out once the drama was over.
Instead, Ugly Betty gave us LGBT characters who were integral to the story line and who were as fabulous, fierce, flawed and frantic and the straight characters around them. The more important included:
Marc St. James (Michael Urie) – Marc was the gay stereotype on steroids. He was flamboyant, bitchy, fashion obsessed, self centered, and above all insecure. The personal assistant to the show’s chief villain, Marc was (along with his best friend Amanda) Betty’s tormentor. He ran a daily blog on Betty’s unfashionable attire and came dressed as her for Halloween.
But over the show story arc, Marc came to represent personal growth and redemption. As he developed a fondness for Betty, he also developed character and personal integrity and, in time, his shallowness became more of a mask behind which he quietly did the right thing. Part of his transition is founded on his interaction with Justin, in whom Marc saw a younger version of himself. Once a principle schemer and betrayer, by the end Marc was in many ways the conscience of the show.
Alexis Meade (Rebecca Romijn) – The first season’s drama revolved around a Mystery Lady who, in bandages, was somehow scheming with the villain, Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) to take over Mode Magazine. She was revealed to be Alex, the older son of the Meade media mogul, once thought dead but now returning as Alexis after a secret sex change.
This could have been played for laughs – and it was in many ways. And Alexis’ sexuality was a bit confusing as it seems that she had dated women in her male past (perhaps out of expectation) and now dated men. But the show was careful to clarify that Alexis was transgender, not a man in a dress, and that this was not the same thing as gay. And while her transgender status was at times more of a gimmick, this was one of few fully developed transgender characters on a television show.
Alexis was not in the fourth season.
Justin Suarez (Mark Indelicato) – When we first met Betty’s nephew Justin, then a young teen, gaydar across the nation went off. Effeminate, obsessed with fashion and pop culture, and possessed of a vibrant and sunny disposition, Justin was recognizably pre-gay. But unlike shows that go for the easy drama, Justin’s storyline was not all just “picked on at school” or “caught wearing mother’s clothes”. Instead, while Justin was at times tormented and hated P.E., his was a primarily happy life with a supporting mother, cool aunt, and doting grandfather.
Much of the conflict in Justin’s plotline revolved around his family’s uncertainty as to how to be there for Justin without pushing him in any direction. Particularly sensitive was the way in which Marc, as a mentor, never presumed that Justin was gay and was supportive of Justin’s brief exploration of liking a girl. Even half way through the final season, there was no certainty that Justin was a gay character. But in the last few episodes, he came to know himself, find a boyfriend, and come out to his family in a sweet and – for this show – surprisingly non-dramatic way.
So good-bye to Betty and all of her gay family and friends. I’ll miss them.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
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In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.