GLAAD presented part of its media awards on Saturday night, with “Glee” being anointed best comedy and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” the top reality program. Additional honors went to Fox latenight host Wanda Sykes and “A Single Man.”
“Glee” has certainly stood out with its sensitive depiction of a gay teenager, played by Chris Colfer, and his scenes with his father have often been extremely poignant. Still, the show is part of a high-profile influx of gay characters in recent years. These range from the Sal character on “Mad Men” to the nephew on the just-departed “Ugly Betty,” from to the couples on ABC’s “Modern Family” and “Desperate Housewives” to the assortment of openly gay participants in Bravo’s reality series.
The disclaimer is that some gays and lesbians are uncomfortable with the stereotypical way many of these characters are depicted, reminding us that no minority group speaks with a wholly united voice on such matters.
Still, it’s hard to argue that there hasn’t been progress, in volume and variety, in the dozen years (geez, has it really been that long?) since “Will & Grace” moved gays from sitcom comic relief to center stage. That said, there’s a prevailing image of gay characters — queenie, snarky and fashion crazed — that hasn’t changed much over that span.
Then again, TV is a rather blunt instrument when it comes to social change — one that frequently tends to exaggerate for dramatic (or comedic) effect. The good news is that the heightened presence of gays reflects a more accepting attitude among younger audiences than their parents and grandparents — which bodes well for the future, whatever frustrations exist in the here and now.