Teen TV shows go Gay
 

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posted Friday, January 7, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 01

Teen TV shows go Gay
by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

It has become more common for teenagers to come out as Gay or Lesbian much earlier than previous generations, and TV executives have taken notice. This year promises to see a growing number of teen characters on TV programs geared towards LGBT kids.

The CW's 90210 joins the ranks of shows like Glee, Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, Hellcats, Greek, and the new MTV series Skins in showcasing young Gay roles.

'I felt like the world of 90210 was missing the Gay character that it would realistically have,' Rebecca Sinclair, the CW series' show runner and executive producer, told the Los Angeles Times about the writers' decision to show teen character Teddy Montgomery's coming-out process. 'If I had created the show, I would definitely have made one of the main characters Gay. & And honestly, in a genre that depends on the coupling, decoupling and re-coupling of its characters, it behooves us to find the most diverse ways to do that.'

Larry Gross, who specializes in Lesbians and Gays in the media, says that coming-out stories aren't anything new. The only difference now is that the age is becoming younger. 'I think this reflects the fact that the sort of battleground for Gay people in society includes high school and probably even includes middle school,' he said. 'It's moved younger in the past decade or so, I think in part & because younger people are becoming more aware of their identities.'

Teen coming-out stories are relevant after reports of physical and cyber bullying reached a boiling point last year when a number of Gay teens committed suicide. Showing Gay characters coming out and being accepted for who they are sends a positive message for young teens struggling with bullying or their sexual identity.

Jarret Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, points to the episode of Glee where Kurt comes out to his dad. 'We see in Glee, in the father's response, a very important role modeling on how to show your love for the child who just came out. In a way, [his father] is coming out, too - as a relative of someone who is LGBT.'

Although homosexual characters continue to multiply, one of the biggest hurdles on shows geared towards adults is showing them kissing onscreen, as their heterosexual counterparts would. The Gay characters on teen TV shows often kiss.

'Who's in a relationship with someone, man or woman, and doesn't kiss them?' asked Trevor Donovan, who plays Teddy on 90210. 'It's real.'



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