While representation of gay characters in TV series has come a long way in the last couple of decades, it has been a painfully slow process to get to this point.
This year, GLAAD’s “Where We Are On TV” report found that of 773 series regular characters scheduled to appear on broadcast scripted primetime television in the US this season, 9.1 percent are LGBT+. However, with 20 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 identifying as LGBT+, there is still a long way to go.
But for most of TV history, LGBT+ characters have been totally absent, or have appeared fleetingly as the butt of a joke or as a victim of violence.
When did the first gay character appear on TV?
In 1971, the year after the first-ever Pride parade in the US and when homosexuality was still considered a disorder, All in the Family became the first American sitcom to show a gay character on TV, in only its fifth episode.
The episode subverted gay stereotypes, as Archie Bunker mocks a man who he considers effeminate, but turns out to be straight. It is later revealed that his macho, football-loving drinking buddy Steve is actually gay.
A year later, in 1972, US sitcom The Corner Bar included the first-ever gay series regular on American TV. While the ABC show stuck around for just 16 episodes, it made history with the character of Peter Panama, played by Vincent Schiavelli.
Rich Wandel, then-president of the Gay Activists Alliance, called Peter “the worst stereotype of a gay person I’ve ever seen”.
While most early gay characters were sidelined, not given their own storylines or love interests, eventually same-sex couples began appearing on TV.
During the same year as The Corner Bar, Australia also saw its first gay series regular – Don Finlayson portrayed Joe Hasham on the serial Number 96 between 1972 and 1977. He had several same-sex relationships, and even lived with his boyfriend Dudley.
In 1975 ABC’s Hot l Baltimore featured the first gay couple on US network television. George and Gordon, played by Lee Bergere and Henry Calvert, were a middle-aged gay couple that appeared on the show, which was so controversial that it was dropped by the network after six months on air.
It wasn’t until 1981 that a TV show with a gay lead character was shown on primetime US television, when NBC’s Love, Sidney aired. However the show’s titular character Sidney Shorr, a single gay man, remains in the closet for every one of the 40 episodes.
The UK trailed behind in its LGBT+ TV representation, and an openly gay character was not shown on TV until 1985, when the Liverpool-based soap Brookside introduced Gordon Collins, played by Nigel Cowley.
In 1989, the first Black lesbian relationship on US TV was broadcast by ABC in the series The Women of Brewster Place.
When was the first same-sex kiss shown on TV?
One of the first same-sex kisses shown on TV anywhere in the world is thought to have been on the Australian soap opera The Box, in 1974.
Vicki Stafford, played by Judy Nunn, is a bisexual reporter who, in the very first episode of the show, shared a same-sex kiss with Felicity, played by Helen Hemingway.
In the UK, Eastenders broadcast the first gay kiss between Colin Russell (Michael Cashman) and his partner Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) in 1989.The first kiss between two women on a UK TV series was aired in 1994. The iconic Brookside lesbian kiss was followed the same year by another same-sex smooch on Byker Grove.
In the US, the first same-sex kiss on network television was between two female lawyers on LA Law in 1991. NBC received multiple complaints and advertisers pulled their ads from the network, however the show ran for eight seasons and won multiple Emmys.
What’s next for LGBT+ representation on TV? It’s hard to say, but things are definitely going in the right direction – even if there is more to be done.
A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!
i just saw a meme on twitter dunking (lol) on this store so i looked it up and ayyyyy it’s real! men’s clothes for shorter dudes! in other words clothes for most butches!! really short inseams and really short sleeve lengths so even if someone’s bigger round the middle, they get to have properly fitting sleeves lol. the downside is its kinda expensive 🙁 but go nuts y’all
Oscar-winner, badass and icon Lady Gaga has her fans in a frenzy with the release of her new short film, an extended video for the song “911.”
“911” marks the fourth single off Gaga’s newest album, Chromatica. The song sees Gaga returning to her roots in dance/electronica, and confronts the singer’s struggles with mental health. In an interview with Apple Music, Gaga confirmed that the antipsychotic drug olanzapine–a drug which she is prescribed–inspired the tune.
Related: Lady Gaga defied ‘Drag Race’ producers and changed the show forever, queens reveal
The new music video, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Tarsem Singh (The Cell), recalls Alejandro Jodorowsky’s cult film El Topo. It finds Gaga lounging in desert dunes and following a mysterious figure in black to a Spanish villa. From there, things get typically weird, as the song’s long musical interlude gives way to the lyrical portion. Dancers in elaborate, colorful costumes fill the villa’s plaza as Gaga sings about the voices in her head. The film culminates in Gaga stabbing herself in the chest, and waking up to see paramedics standing over her: she’s been in a biking accident.
In other words, the “911” video fits well with Gaga’s signature mixture of style, performance art and general weirdness.
Crank the volume, and have a look. We have a feeling you’ll be seeing the video quite a bit in the near future.
In a moving new short film, a gay dad prepares lunches for his daughter during her first weeks of school and reflects on starting his family, his own difficult school days, and his hopes for the future. Along with the film is a short documentary that looks more broadly at what family means to LGBTQ people.
Matt Gurr’s Lunchboxes, starring Daniel Brennan and directed by Dan Ellis, is a 17-minute monologue that I found to be an unexpectedly touching piece of storytelling. It was “filmed during lockdown with Zoom and a lot of time and patience,” per the show notes, as a collaboration between Green Carnation Company, an LGBTQ-focused theatrical and digital content company, and Bloody Bandit Productions, both based in Manchester, U.K.
To go along with the short, the companies have also released the educational film Queer All About It: My Queer Family, a 17-minute documentary that looks at “what family means to LGBTQ+ people and what challenges, rewards and support they experience.” In it, LGBTQ+ family members across the U.K. and from organizations like New Family Social, The Rainbow Project, and FFLAG, talk about adoption, same-sex parenting, reciprocal IVF, found and chosen families, and more. Even for those of us not in the U.K., there’s lot that should resonate.
The films are part of “Queer All About It,” Green Carnation Theatre’s ongoing digital project exploring themes affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Watch them both here—I recommend seeing Lunchboxes first, since My Queer Family uses two clips from it and there are mild spoilers.
The Dyke Kitchen is a bi-weekly series about how queerness, identity, culture and love are expressed through food and cooking.
Now, as I’m sitting in my living room sweating on my couch, it seems unimaginable that earlier this week, there was a crisp breeze whispering through my windows, begging me to braise. I understand that it’s summer and not traditional braising season, but I was feeling prematurely into the way the August light has subtly shifted and felt a shade of autumn in my heart. Some of that has to do with the long evenings I’ve been spending outdoors in order to be with the people I love, and in the parts of California where you can find me, that means nights with flannel, wool socks, beanies and a fire, even at the height of summer.
Anyway, I had a wide open evening and a bunch of plums and pluots on my counter that I had been eating over the sink. I decided I probably should DO something with them. I don’t know what exactly clicked, maybe it’s that I’ve been eating a lot of fruit in a savory context, but I decided to do beef short ribs braised with broccolini and plums in a soy sauce-based liquid. And then, I thought it would be nice to eat that with ricotta gnocchi with preserved lemon in them.
So that is what this meal turned into: a warm, hearty dish that’s simple, but has some fruity flavors mixed into the richness. This is not a light, summery meal, but you know, I’m still enjoying it after the sun goes down and there is something about it that feels excessive and satisfying.
How To Make A Stove-Top Braise
If you don’t eat meat, you can still braise with plums like this, just use a vegetable that’s a little more hearty. I’ve added wedges of acorn squash, whole turnips, celery root, and other sorts of structured, harder vegetables to this kind of braising liquid with great results. I cannot tell you what is happening with the broccolini, but it really adds something to the broth, and there is a beautiful way that onions and plums melt together in a sauce that I have endless affection for.
4 bone-in beef short ribs 2 bundles of broccolini 1 sweet white onion 5 plums
For the braising liquid 1/2 cup of low sodium (this is what they had at the store!) soy sauce. I will say that I like things salty and if you wanted to be more conscientious, you could do 1/4 cup soy sauce and add more as you go 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar A spoonful of honey or maple syrup 2 cups of chicken broth (mine was made with some celery so that was a component of this too) I ended up adding in probably another ½ cup of water to the pot
Get out a dutch oven, put it on the stove over medium-high heat and brown your short ribs. Tbh, I only do this because everyone says this is what you do, I can’t say that I experience the browning in some spectacular way.
After that, take them out and take the pot off of the heat.
Cut your plums into quarters (remove the pits), cut the onion in quarters, and trim any dried ends off of your broccolini.
Then I put the ribs back in first, stuff the onion and plums around them and arrange the broccolini on top like a wreath. I don’t mind if my vegetables get super cooked down, but if you like to keep some bite, you can also do the option of waiting until the meat is basically done and then adding them in OR you can do one bunch the whole way and one bunch in at the tail end. Like I said, the broccolini does do something nice to the flavor. If you’re 100% veg, put them all in together, it’ll be fun!
Now mix up the braising liquid, and pour it into the dutch oven. I added chicken broth after I did the soy sauce mix, and then added a little bit of water to make sure the meat was fully submerged.
I put the dutch oven back on to the burner, put the lid on and brought everything up to a boil. Then I put it on the back burner to simmer at a very low setting, and cracked the lid so steam could escape.
I left it like this for 3 hours, checking now and then to make sure the meat was still submerged in a liquid and adding water when it seemed like it needed more.
When the ribs had fallen off the bone and were tender in my chopsticks, I considered it done and was happy with the results. At that point, I like to remove the bones and slice the short ribs into pieces so they’re easy to eat over rice, with gnocchi, with noodles, however you like.
I’m here to note, that you can also braise in the oven, and I’ve done a very similar recipe where you put the dutch oven in the oven at 325 degrees F with the lid on, and you can get a similar delicious and really tender meat or veggie in around the same time frame.
How To Make The Ricotta Gnocchi With Preserved Lemon
I like these little dumplings because they’re so cute, have a chew that I like, and also they taste like CHEESE, which is one of my all-time favorite things. They’re also quicker than their potato cousins, though I will admit, as a gnocchi fan, they’re not really the same. But I don’t really love spending time cooking and then ricing potatoes either.
I thought preserved lemons would bring in a bright and also bitter flavor that would cut some of the pure beef fat that was going to be prominent in the short ribs. I also like the way lemon and ricotta taste together, that seemed natural. I made these while the beef simmered!
I’ve been using this Serious Eats recipe for years, and the main difference between mine and theirs is that I’m not nearly as meticulous, and while they don’t turn out as pretty as theirs, they still taste good.
8 oz of high-quality ricotta. I use the basket of Bellwether Farms. Truly, you can still use a more processed, stabilized ricotta and you will certainly live to tell the tale, it just might have a different texture and flavor.
1 cup of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg and 1 more egg yolk
¼ wedge of preserved lemon, minced or food processed
1 teaspoon of salt
I begin by heavily salting a big pot of water and putting it on the stove to boil.
Drain your ricotta by spreading it out on a paper towel with a spatula. Does this feel strange to do? Yes. Does it work? As long as you have sturdy paper towels, that won’t disintegrate into the cheese. You can also pat it down and press it with a clean dish towel.
Scrape your drained ricotta into a large bowl and mix in your parmesan (mine was obviously microplaned, and so I put in more than ½ a cup, but I work in estimates!), flour, and eggs.
Mix it up with a spatula so it starts to come together into a dough. Before it’s fully integrated, but coming together, add your preserved lemon and salt. Then keep mixing so it forms a dough, a wet, sticky dough, but a dough.
I then flour a board, and get out a baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper.
Then I grab what seems like a quarter of the dough, work it into a ball and roll it out into a long snake that is about the width of my index finger. My experience of these gnocchi is that they get super puffy in the water — they can get tough if you cook them too long and they’re just kinda flat and slimy if you don’t cook them enough. So to try to make things easy for myself, I cut them pretty small, like no bigger than the first section of your fingertip.
I put the cut pieces of gnocchi dough on the parchment covered baking sheet where they go to await their boil.
Repeat the snake rolling and chopping activity three more times and you should have a baking sheet of cute little pillows. Mine often get pinched or look weird and wrinkly, and I do not care.
When the water is boiling, I take about ten to twelve gnocchi pieces and fling them into the boiling water. I have no tips for making this elegant, though I’m sure someone else does. They only need a few minutes to puff up and float to the surface (sometimes they need a nudge off the bottom of the pot) and that’s how you know they’re done.
I lift them out with a strainer, and then put the lid of the pot on to bring it back to a boil. Then repeat the process until all of them are cooked.
I think over time you can figure out the exact texture that you like best: mine is just-cooked-through, and still pretty tender.
These are also great with a tomato sauce, a pesto, in browned butter, and all the ways you might want to eat cheese ravioli — they’re sort of like the filling and ravioli outside in one.
Anyway, this was a sort of off-the-cuff meal, but it’s bringing me joy throughout the week.