Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Whores and Ministers on Law and Order

The Law and Order shows have recently aired two episodes about anti-gay ministers involved with male prostitutes practically back to back. The latest on Special Victims Unit featured Timothy Daly as a minister arrested for the murder of a male hustler who was apparently blackmailing him. (Can't we get past this tiresome blackmail theme in “gay” episodes on crime shows?) I liked the scene when Olivia said that the minister kept having children (ten of them) because he just couldn't accept that he was gay and had a desperate need to hide it through his many offspring (which I believe does happen in real life). This made the excellent and true point that a man can be married with kids and still be homosexual. Unfortunately this was undercut when it turned out it was actually one of Daly's sons who was having the affair with the hustler (and the actual murderer was someone else entirely) and Daly was supposedly straight. The once anti-gay minister was almost turned into a sympathetic hero, lying to cops to protect his son (whom he inexplicably thought murdered his lover) and becoming sympathetic to him in a matter of mere months, even preaching tolerance – as if that would ever happen so quickly. The show was decidedly well-intentioned, but in its attempts to be full of twists and turns, while this generated suspense, became a bit too muddled to be memorable. Frankly, it would have been more powerful and honest – and more fun – if the Daly character had been boffing the hustler or some other guy as well.

It reminds me of something I heard on the radio once. About a woman in Italy who had ten children with her husband of many years but was filing for divorce because he was gay. The announcer told the story as if it were all a big joke; it was hilarious, he thought, how could a man who fathered ten children possibly be homosexual? But if a gay man can have two or three children (or even just one) – and we know this has happened over and over again – there's absolutely no reason why he can't have ten or even more. Hell, I've met grandfathers who have many children, many grand-kids, and are still gay. At least when they're carrying on in the gay bars or online. Of course, very few men, gay or straight, want to have ten children!

So this episode of Law and Order SVU could have made that point – and tried to, I guess – but went in another direction altogether. Too bad. Still, it was quite absorbing, and I basically think the show, while imperfect, is one of the best on television.

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