Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Look Through a Hazy Lens


As I often take cinematic strolls down memory lane, I began to compare the roles of gay and lesbian characters in TV and film from the past to those of today. Coming of age in the 80s, the first portrayal of a gay character I witnessed was Harry Hamlin in Making Love. It was sad that this sappy thing was my first glimpse into what I now know as being on the DL. Funny to think it was two white dudes since the term DL almost always refers to black men. Even before then, TV gave us wise-cracking, all-knowing uncle Arthur: a confirmed bachelor.


Moving through the decades, there was Dynasty with its certainly too-hot-for-television gay story lines.  We shouldn't forget how grateful we were to have Ellen and Will & Grace and a whole host of similar movies and TV shows. The one thing I noticed in older movies, like Midnight Cowboy and others, is that the homosexual character had to meet his death violently. It was almost like saying, "That's what he gets." Thank God those days are over.

A new frontier would be positive roles for black masculine gay men. The black lesbians for sure could use a feminine example as well. Set It Off did nothing for the long-standing stereotypes of the butch black lady and her effeminate male counterpart. Could black America handle seeing strong black men as punks? Or our sassy, smart black women as lady-loving go-getters? There's a thousand examples on either side of the racial divide. Hollywood's lenses seem to be unfairly tinted to favor other races. Hats off to Noah's Arc for getting the party started, but on a whole, let's demand more. With that said, I'll see you guys at your local movie house.



GREGORY DRAYTON
Male Media Mind