Besides the personal pleasure they’ve given me on these long pandemic evenings, what do the following TV Series have in common?
• Downtown Abbey
• The Office
• A Place to Call Home
• Call My Agent
• Last Tango in Halifax
• Seaside Hotel
• Schitt’s Creek
If you’ve seen more than one of these, take a moment to think of the characters. Got it?
And one more hint. It’s something that TV wouldn’t have shown twenty or thirty years ago.
Give up? It’s no earthshaking insight and yet, significant that each of these shows (and many others I’ve either forgotten I’ve seen or haven’t seen) all have a major character who is gay or lesbian. In the ones that are set from long ago, there is attention paid to the struggles they went through— electroshock “cures,” hiding it from fellow workers or Nazi occupiers, personal shame as the culture’s disapproval leaks into the psyche. The more contemporary ones are more—and rightfully so—casual, more out front and in the case of Schitt’s Creek, lots of kissing, a wedding and clear expression of the genuine deep love bond between David and Patrick and the delight of the parents in sharing their joy.
I’m reading Lush Life, the biography of Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington’s partner in jazz crime who gifted Duke with his songs and arrangements and gifted the jazz world with his memorable compositions—Take the A Train, Lush Life, Satin Doll, Chelsea Bridge, Lotus Blossom and many more. He was unusual in that he was fairly up front about being a black gay man in the 40’s through the 60’s, but he certainly suffered from being at the wrong end of the wholly accepted homophobia of his day. I think he would be delighted to watch these shows and feel that mainstream TV has helped the culture move closer to normalization of simply choosing who you love. The new normal is growing and Amen to that!
Of course, many still resist and though these kinds of TV series and movies help, knowing people in the LGBTQ community who happen to be family members, friends or colleagues helps more, still I have given up on any logical approaches to convincing people determined to hate to consider changing. The contradictions in the human psyche have grown too extreme for me to comprehend and I reluctantly accept that there is no social program that will point us toward more tolerance, acceptance, compassion and celebration of the many ways we can love others and express the essence of our own beautiful soul.
But these kinds of shows just might help. Check them out!