Thursday, August 25, 2011


This was the actual heading of a discussion thread in the online forum for one of the TV shows I watch, and it was dead serious. These forums nowadays are swarming with these types of comments. In another thread, the following exchange took place among three users:
"I stopped watching when it seemed all of the characters turned gay."
"There are nearly 25 characters and having 4 of them gay is not all the show. If you have problems with people being gay, [this] is not the show for you. There are plenty of other shows where gay people seems not existing."
"Yes, [the show] has more gay characters now than in the beginning. Not that this is a bad thing. I think [the show] has one of the most mature set of gay characters out there. Most gay characters in TV or film are over the top flaming kind, that's mostly used in a comedic role. [This show] has only one of those."
One way to go with this would be to find out what percentage of the population is gay, and try to figure out whether the show producers are overdoing it or not. I would find this irrelevant, and a little bit boring, too. After all, film and TV have never been about mirroring reality, but rather about shedding light on heroes and events, giving a space for self expression, and for communicating ideas or prevalent ideologies.
It seems to me that the LGBT community is very intent in saying something, and in order to understand it, I'm afraid we're going to have to look back at their history in the media.
So yesterday I was trying to figure out whether there was some kind of gay version of the Lumiere Brothers, and planning my trip to the library or the closest Media Studies professor, when I started getting texts from friends who had seen my new project and, alas!, it turns out I am not the only one with a hidden passion for all things queer.
"I remember when I watched this movie... I loved it... The Children's Hour (1961)", texted a friend.
Pretty soon they were talking about Greek scrolls from Lesbos, and I had to remind them that my blog's title did include the words Film and TV.
And then another friend texted me about a wonderful documentary about the history of queer cinema she had watched a few years ago, and how she had just jotted down the names of movies out of sheer passion, and then she had just put it aside because there was nothing better to do with it. Well, it turns out that the first identifiable homosexual coupling in cinema is in a film actually called... wait for it... The Gay Brothers (ca. 1895). And no, I did not know this when I made the joke about the Lumiere Brothers.
So there. It seems she had been saving her seemingly useless resources for me. I weighed my options. I could either read the work of known researchers, or start my own exploration with my friends' dubious resources.
I chose to start the adventure with my team of unlikely but willing consultants. Sure, I will probably take the long road to arrive to the same conclusions a lot of people have already reached. But perhaps ignorance will ultimately give me the ability to look at things a little differently. And if it doesn't, at least I will have owned my journey.

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