Friday, March 27, 2009

As the Gay World Turns

Never did I dream that one day I would be recommending a soap opera, but I have to say that the gay developments on a CBS soap called As The World Turns have become increasingly interesting and decidedly pro-gay.

Luke (Van Hansis) and Noah (Jake Silbermann) are the young college-age gay couple on the program. Luke came out of the closet first, while Noah -- whom Luke suspected was gay -- was dating a young lady. Noah resisted at first, but eventually came out of the closet, which prompted his homophobic father to take a shot at Luke. Luckily, Luke survived the attack and Noah's father eventually died.

After awhile the producers introduced a young lady who needed to get married or else she would be sent back to her homeland and in all likelihood killed. So she and Noah got married and moved in together, but the producers assured gay viewers that the storyline was not going to go the way they feared. Noah and the young lady did not hop into the sack, and in fact so far the show has resisted making Noah bisexual. [TV shows often make gay characters bisexual not to explore or highlight the bisexual lifestyle, but because they know the mostly heterosexual viewers will feel more comfortable with a character who, despite their same-sex attraction, can enter into an audience-pleasing relationship with a member of the opposite sex at any time. And anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.] Noah, like Luke, appears to have been conceived as a gay character, and hopefully that is the way it will remain.

Luke and Noah nearly broke up for one reason or another before they even had a chance to make love. Complaints that they rarely kissed were responded to with a scene of them happily smooching. A few weeks later they finally went to bed together. Now, we didn't actually see them in bed together the way we see straight couples -- which is, admittedly, annoying, and not because I have a prurient interest in seeing anything -- but at least they have given the guys an active sex life.

I also like the way that Luke is the more political and militant of the two, an activist, while Noah, who took much longer to accept himself, is more of a laid-back, make no waves kind of guy. It makes for interesting conflicts. But the two have also argued, like most couples, about things unrelated to their sexual orientation. However, they were recently denied housing because they were gay, which prompted Luke to hold a rally. I was ready to go until I remembered these are just ficitional characters, although they're playing out situations that occur in real life.

An interesting development occurred when Luke's grandmother's new, much younger and rather handsome husband made a pass at Luke! At first he denied being gay, then said he didn't label himself (where have I heard that before?) then came out only a few days after Lucinda, the grandmother, threw him out of the house for lying to and using her. Frankly, I think the show should have let this situation go on a little longer. The guy, who was closeted for years, seemed to find self-acceptance almost overnight. The producers seemed too anxious to wrap up the storyline. (Maybe the whole bit about married homosexuals just made them too nervous.)

A wild moment occurred when Luke came on to this guy on the very same night that he and Noah were supposed to make love for the first time. Noah went off with his ex-girlfriend -- now just a good friend -- but Luke, misunderstanding, got paranoid and drunk [Luke is not perfect and neither is Noah, another thing I like about them] and made a flagrant pass at his grandmother's husband. Noah, of course, came across the two of them making out and was furious. Most guys would have found it kind of funny -- your boyfriend kissing your grandmother's gay husband -- but Noah has always been a bit humorless as compared to Luke. They made up eventually, of course.

Just this week Luke's biological father Damian -- who sent him to a horrible camp when he found out he was gay -- is back in town, saying he's changed, and begging forgiveness. Frankly, I think it would be great if this sexy Italian told his son "I couldn't accept that you were gay because I couldn't accept myself" so he could come out of the closet, too, and maybe look up Lucinda's gay ex-husband-- they'd make a hot pair!

Ah, but has the homophobic Damian really turned over a new leaf -- or is there something else on his mind? Stay tuned.

Seriously, think what you will about soap operas, this is certainly a major development in the treatment of gay characters, who have been disproportionately non-existent on most soaps. If the storyline of Luke and Noah will make some housewives, house husbands, college kids and others rethink their position on Gay Rights, so much the better. It's also refreshing to see an uncompromising gay activist on daytime television (or anywhere for that matter). This would have been unheard of back in my Gay Activists Alliance media committee days, when all you generally saw were self-hating homos and suicidal lesbians.

As The World Turns has proven that there can be compelling drama in the story of a man's coming out, accepting himself, and fighting against prejudice in the most uncompromising of ways.

As for the rest of the show, I admit I fast forward through the other storylines because I just don't have time to watch a whole hour every day (Luke and Noah are not on every day or every week).

Finally, a clap of my hands to those young actors Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann who, in my opinion, do a splendid job of playing Luke and Noah. I have no idea of their private sexual orientation, and while it might be nice if gay actors were enacting these roles, I have to say that whether they're gay or straight they have my admiration for a job very well done.

As the World Turns is on Monday - Friday from 2 PM to 3 PM on CBS.

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