Jan 19, 2017

The Disney Channel's Gay Programming Blocks

Like Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel airs its teencoms in programming blocks interspliced with short segments: reviews of Disney movies (always thumbs up!), interviews with Disney Channel stars, exhortations to eat right or lend a "helping hand," and some fictional segments.  But whereas the Nickelodeon segments are hosted by adults, the Disney Channel segments are hosted by teenagers, giving gay kids hunky peers to crush on.

Movie Surfers (1997-) has teenage hosts, one boy and one girl, reviewing children's movies, and sometimes interviewing the stars, touring the sets, and so on.  The current male host is Drew Osborne (left), who is gay or gay-friendly, seeing hanging out at Gay Pride events.  There is a long list of former hosts, including Drake Kemper (a Disney Channel regular), Matt Kubacki, and Andrew Eiden (of Complete Savages).

Disney 365 (2006-) sticks with the Disney Channel, going behind the scenes of its movies and tv series. Its current hosts are Mikie Beattie and Chester See (who sings a song called "Bromance": "Nothing gay about it -- not that there's anything wrong with being gay).

Previous hosts included Jared Hernandez (of One Warm Night), Sterling Suleiman (left, of the gay-themed New Normal), Noah Schnacky, and Kean Eli.

Mike's Super Short Show (2005-2007), Disney's Really Short Report (2007-2009), and Leo Little's Big Show (2009-2011) plugged Disney DVD releases.  They were hosted by "really short" kids, including Mike Johnson, Jacob Hays, and Leo Howard (now #9 on my list of the 10 Unexpected Disney Channel Teen Hunks, and star of gay-subtext Kickin' It).

As the Bell Rings (2007-2009) was a very short teencom, 5 minute sketches about school adventures, mostly heterosexist stuff about who's crushing on who.  The male cast included Collin Cole, Seth Ginsberg, and Tony Oller, star of the teen thriller Beneath the Darkness (2012), who tweeted "I'm NOT GAY, people!  My ass of a friend decided to tweet that!"  A somewhat homophobic reaction.

Jan 18, 2017

13 Things I Hate About Will and Grace

Will and Grace (1998-2005) was a multiple-Emmy award winning sitcom about a gay man, Will (Eric McCormack), his best friend Jack (Sean Hayes), and their heterosexual female life partners, Grace (Debra Messing) and Karen (Megan Mullaley).

I hated it.  I still hate it.  I can't watch an episode without seething with rage and trying to kill my tv set.

Here are the top 10 things I hate about it.

1. I know that some gay men (and straight men) have feminine mannerisms, but every gay male character on the program, except for a few famous guest stars, prances.  They wear face cream and listen to show tunes and call each other "Mary."  Will goes even farther.  He believes that he is a girl, literally.  In one episode, Will's visiting cousin states that he needs "a woman's opinon" about something, and Will immediately chirps "Sure, I'll be glad to help."

3. Every gay stereotype you ever heard is absolutely true.  Grace or Karen frequently make astonishingly homophobic statements, and Will has to admit that they are correct.  In one episode, a gay man has to pretend to be interested in a woman, but he doesn't know how.  Grace says: "Treat her like your mother."  Will protests, "That's homophobic!  All gay men aren't in love with their mothers. . .um. . .ok, ok, treat her like your mother."

4. Gay men like sex with women.  A lot.  Will/Grace and Jack/Karen are always cuddling, smooching, pawing at each other.  Will and Jack occasionally kiss other women, too.

5. But they like sex with men more.  That's right, gayness is a sexual preference.  You have to try both sexes, and decide which one you prefer, like deciding between strawberry and chocolate ice cream.  In one episode, Will admits that he had sex with a woman in order to "be sure."

6. They like sex with men, but relationships are heterosexual. Will gets married to his cop beau in the last episode, but before that he had 3,000 episodes paired with Grace.  And the last episode fast-forwards to reveal Jack and Karen living together for 20 years.  Same-sex bonds come and go, but heterosexual bonds are forever.

7. There is no gay culture.  Will and Jack must spend all of their time among heterosexuals, because there are no gay political groups, social groups, sports groups, churches, or community centers.  Just a lot of gay bars, and in one episode a bookstore.

8. All gay men are affluent sophisticated lawyers who live in Manhattan and have gym-toned physiques and listen to show tunes and are utterly self-absorbed.  Of course, the straight women are the same.

9. There are no lesbians.  Will is constantly telling people that he is gay, but Grace only states that she is a woman. She doesn't have to mention that she's heterosexual, because lesbians don't exist.  Except in one episode, where they were portrayed as butch, predatory, and "confused."  One "changes back" into heterosexual after kissing Will.

10. Sean Hayes utterly refused to acknowledge that he was gay during the entire run of the show.  I can't imagine how much internalized homophobia and self-hatred it takes to do that.  Of course, if he actually believed all of the contemptible things his character was saying about gay people, I can understand why he would hate himself.

11. Leslie Jordan plays a flamboyantly feminine gay man -- even more feminine than the other characters, so much that Karen's homophobia changes from ridicule to hatred.  But he insists that he is straight.

12. Grace and Karen throw around "fags" and "homos" with utter abandon, and instead of calling them out for their homophobia, Will and Jack meekly accept the abuse.

13.  Sorry, I couldn't confine myself to 10.  But this is the last one: Will doesn't know that gay men exist.
In one episode, Will is going on a blind date.  As he sits in a restaurant waiting for his date, he strikes up a conversation with the man at the next table.  He states that he, too, is waiting for a blind date. 

At this point, what would you conclude?


But Will doesn't. He says: "You know how women are, they always like to make an entrance." He is gay, and yet he is absolutely certain that every man on Earth is straight.

Postscript:  I just heard some horrible news.  After 12 blissfully gay-free years, self-hating Willa nd Jack -- and their fag-hating  life partners Grace and Karen --are returning for another season of homophobic hijinks.  Somehow, with the new fascist regime and the throwback of gay rights to the 1950s, it seems fitting.

Fangorn's First Hookup, with Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky

San Francisco, November 2010

I'm living in Upstate New York, but back in San Francisco for a conference, staying with my friend David.  We meet some guys at the Red Jade Restaurant on Church Street:  Matt my ex-boyfriend's ex-boyfriend, a South Asian Daddy named Tutor, Seth the Chemist, and his new boyfriend Fangorn.

(I'm not kidding -- he was named after the forest in The Lord of the Rings.)

They live in Santa Rosa, about an hour's drive north of San Francisco.  Seth teaches at Sonoma State, and Fangorn grows onions.

They make quite a pair.  Seth is slim, blond, sharp-jawed, clean-cut, and Fangorn a big, hairy, husky nature boy with long hair and a beard.

We discuss the usual gigantic penises, dates from hell, and celebrity hookups.  Matt tells about his date with Bronson Pinchot, star of Perfect Strangers.  David tells about hooking up with Skyler Stone, who we know from Raising Hope.  I stick to Michael J. Fox.

"Do poets count?" Fangorn asks, "Or do they have to be on the boob tube?"

"Sure, poets are fine," I say.  "As long as they're famous."

"How many famous poets are there, that were alive in the last fifty years?" David asks.

"William Carlos Williams?" Matt suggests.

"Allen Ginsberg.  Back when I was a college kid, still named Dennis.  In fact, my first gay experience was with Ginsberg and his lover, Peter Orlovsky."

The full story, with nude photos and explicit sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood.