Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 18 August, 1997

TV PROGRAMS' COVERAGE CELEBRATED

GLAAD Is Happy About: Black/Gay Issues, Soap Opera Mag, Schindler

Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday


 

The August 25 premiere episode of the new UPN show, Good News, will feature the challenges of a young black gay man coming out and introducing his white boyfriend to his mother and their pastor.

The sitcom is based on the arrival of Pastor David Randolph (David Ramsey) to the primarily African-American Church of Life and, according to UPN's release, "Pastor Randolph tries to settle in to the role of leader and must attempt to resolve some hilarious social predicaments, not all of which are clearly answered by the Good Book."

In the episode, when choir member Eldridge Dixon (Dwaine Perry) tells the pastor he has a problem and that he's gay, the pastor begins to react to his sexual orientation, but Eldridge corrects him, explaining, "That's not the problem." When he mentions that he has a boyfriend the pastor treats that as an issue.

Eldridge says, "That's not the problem, either. I want to bring him to church on Sunday," and that he wants the pastor's support in telling his mom, series regular Mrs. Dixon (Roz Ryan).

Pastor Randolph agrees, and when Eldridge tells his mom he's gay, she says, "That's what you dragged me down here for? Boy, I knew that when you was nine years old. Of course it's okay." She's supportive of his bringing his boyfriend, Danny, to church, until he mentions that Danny is white.

"What's the matter with you?" she asks. "There's enough nice black men out there, you got to go find yourself a white man? You need therapy!" In the end, however, through the pastor's welcoming of Danny (Robert Howe) into the church, Mrs. Dixon welcomes him into her heart.

The episode not only celebrates the reality that many churches have lesbian and gay followers, but also calls attention to the ways in which issues of race can play into issues of sexual orientation and identity. Additionally UPN's decision to highlight a gay parishioner in the pilot underscores how lesbian and gay issues are increasingly becoming a common and valued part of the sitcom world.

Please commend UPN for a provocative and entertaining premiere episode of Good News, and encourage them to bring back Eldridge and Danny on a regular basis.

Contact: UPN, 555 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038, fax: 310.575.7201, feedback form: www.upn.com/email2.html.

Soap Opera Magazine Polls on AMC's Kevin

As the ongoing saga of gay teen Kevin having so-called "conversion" therapy foisted upon him on ABC's All My Children continues, the August 19 issue of Soap Opera Magazine features an inclusive and well-worded readers' poll on the subject.

"During the process of self-discovery," the magazine asks, "what conclusion would you like to see Kevin reach?"

Option #1 is: "I hope AMC uses this storyline to illustrate the point that you can't change what people are. If Kevin is gay, then no amount of therapy is going to change that. I hope Kevin's parents (and viewers) will learn this important lesson."

Option #2 is: "If the powers-that-be aren't willing to go full speed ahead and give Kevin a boyfriend, I'd much rather see Kevin realize he's straight and find a love interest in someone like [his best friend] Kelsey than stay on the back burner forever. Ben Jorgensen is much too talented an actor to be used merely as a coffee-pourer." The poll number, 1-900-288-SOAP, costs $1.75 a minute.

This poll is running during the same week that the American Psychological Association has passed a resolution noting that "societal ignorance and prejudice about same gender sexual orientation put some gay, lesbian,bisexual and questioning individuals at risk for presenting for 'conversion' treatment due to family or social coercion and/or lack of information."

Soap Opera Magazine carefully words the first option to reject the claim of anti-gay therapists to "change" gay people. The second option, rather than attempting to justify so-called conversion, acknowledges the struggle gay characters have being allowed full, complex representation in the face of network fears and tentativeness.

Please let Soap Opera Magazine know its wording of the Kevin poll is appreciated, as is this and any further coverage they give to this provocative AMC story. In addition, be sure to let ABC Daytime know that Kevin deserves to reject the anti-gay therapy and become more than "a coffee-pourer."

Contact:

Garrett A. Foster, Editor-in-Chief, Soap Opera Magazine, 660 White Plains Rd., Tarrytown, NY 10591, e-mail: SOMSoapBox@aol.com;

ABC Daytime, 77 W. 66th Street, New York, NY 10023-6201, fax: 212.456.2381, e-mail: daytime@abc.com.

Prior to TV Movie Chicago Tribune Honors Schindler

Just before Lifetime's TV-movie Any Mother's Son aired, the August 8 Chicago Tribune featured a lengthy and thoughtful article on the brutal murder of Allen Schindler, the activism of his mother, and how his attackers are living today.

Schindler was killed after "two of his shipmates followed him into the restroom to 'have some fun.' Fun means different things to different people. Schindler was beaten so severely he was unrecognizable," the article says.

The issue of gays in the military had a face, and, "it had a spokeswoman, Schindler's mother, Dorothy Hajdys....She believed homosexuality was a sin. But when she learned how her son had been repeatedly terrorized because he was gay and how the Navy tried to cover it up, she couldn't remain silent."

The article describes her growth into a deeper understanding of and heightened sensitivity toward gay people. It also tells the story of the attackers, Terry Helvey and Charles Vins; how Helvey's confession made clear his disregard for the life of a gay person and how Vins remained silent and turned evidence against Helvey in return for "a sweetheart deal....Looked at from a purely legal standpoint, it's difficult to understand why Vins' testimony was so important....It was a hot potato for Navy brass. One defendant was better than two, especially if the defendant could be portrayed as an aberration and not just a queer-hating sailor, of which there were said to be many aboard the Belleau Wood."

The Tribune article describes Helvey's life behind bars, how he said "I was just having fun and this dude ended up dying," and "he didn't even mind that the man in the next cell was gay. He said they could have had a beer together."

Helvey's optimism about getting out early is waning, it is noted, since Hajdys' vow he will never be released. "She says she will have one million names by 2002," the article says. It also explains some of the role lesbian and gay activists, including the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, have played in the process.

Please thank the Tribune for an engaging and powerful article about the ways in which Schindler's mutual murder forever changed the lives of those surrounding the atrocity.

Contact: Ann Marie Lipinski, Managing Editor, Chicago Tribune, PO Box 4041, Chicago, IL 60611-4041, fax: 312.222.4760, e-mail: tribletter@aol.com.

1997 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
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