More Is Less

New Gay Roles, Same Clichés

The number of gay people on TV has increased in recent years—beyond Ellen and Will & Grace, there are now characters on Glee, Modern Family, Ugly Betty, Entourage, and others. But even though mainstream Americans have welcomed a variety of gay characters into their living rooms, their state governments have become more hostile, with Maine and California reversing their same-sex marriage laws. Could it be that recent characters like Glee's Kurt, a fashion-obsessed Beyoncé aficionado, or the ice skating-loving couple on Modern Family perpetuate mockery of gay men? Reality stars, like American Idol's Adam Lambert and Project Runway's Christian Siriano, fall into similar pigeonholes. Lesbians on TV are often conveniently bisexual. "If you want to be invited to someone else's party, sometimes you have to dress the part," Newsweek's Ramin Setoodeh writes, citing Rachel Maddow's lipstick. "It's not that gay men and women should pretend to be straight... The key is balance."