What gay character made the biggest impact on you when you were young?
For me it was the kid in Fame. I think he was the first gay character I related to.
Probably Ellen. Although I'm a gay guy she's the first character I remember being gay on tv (I was around 14 or 15 at the time).
Michael Tolliver in Tales of the City
R1 You and I must be around the same age, because Ellen was the only openly gay celeb/character on television back in the mid-late 90's who could be taken seriously. Will & Grace didn't come on until '98, and the gay characters on that show were just a joke not to be taken seriously.
The Ellen coming out episode had a huge impact on me.
Allen Sues from Laugh In!
r5, I can't believe you wrote just what I was going to write at the same time.
Yup r21. I remember watching her coming out episode in my parents bedroom with the door closed, because I didn't want my parents to know I was watching it and think I was gay.
Steven Carrington, I guess.
He isn't the best example because I didn't really feel much of a connection to his life. He was older than me and rich beyond anything I could imagine at the time.
But I was impacted by him being a gay presence on such a high profile TV program. And his struggle for acceptance with his father was at least a distant connection for me.
I think I connected much more with Billy Douglas on One Life to Live. But that was several years later and by then I was older than that character. But his situation and coming out felt much more like my own struggle.
A late show screening of "Boys in the Band" both freaked me out and fascinated me (it was majorly censored, I'm sure). I was repelled by those guys and couldn't wait to grow up and meet 'em.
On a more positive note, the video to "Elton's Song" made me cry like a baby then and now. I bet it still represents a huge amount of us in terms of our youth. And don't give me no fuckin' "Mary`", it's beautiful.
Steven (played by Ben Silverston) in Get Real.
The whole movie is on youtube. Worth your while if you haven't seen it.
Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly were my second choices, but they were too straight acting compared to Alan Sues.
Ellen. I bought her book - I can't remember but it was around age 17 or 18. I would sneak it around the house to read. I wanted my parents to see me reading Ellen's book to give them a 'clue'. then my real role models as seeing a cute public celeb lesbian couple were Ellen and Anne. i adored them. That's how I found the Datalounge - from a fan page.
For a movie character that left a huge mark on me, the 1985 telefilm "Consenting Adult."
Barry Tubb played Jeff, a college aged son who comes out to his parents played by Marlo Thomas and Martin Sheen.
Coming of age in the 80s, that was probably the character I most related to, and so his story was both hopeful and heartbreaking for me.
Plus I think I fell a little but in love with Barry Tubb as a result of his performance.
Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilley are not characters. Just sayin'
The "Just sayin'" troll
Bruce Wayne & Dick Grayson
yes r16...I remember that movie and having the exact same reaction...
Yes, that is an absolutely serious reply.
That's a great movie, r10 and a great character.
Sulu, from Star Trek, who I insisted had to be gay because of the way he talked and moved.
My friend said I was wrong.
The WHAT/WHICH troll
Tara and Willow from "Buffy".
When they slow-danced and rose up several inches in the air, I thought it was the most romantic thing ever.
No one pulled off mustard yellow velour like Mr. Sulu!!
We didn't have many gay characters on TV in the seventies.
In movies, I totally connected to Frankenfurter in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Dr. Smith - Lost In Space
Will Robinson's younger brother, aborted in space
[quote]We didn't have many gay characters on TV in the seventies.
There were enough. It just wasn't discussed.
Felix Unger - The Odd Couple
Bert & Ernie - Sesame Street
Alice - The Brady Bunch(Sam the Butcher was practically prostitution for choice meat cuts)
Jo Polniaczek, Cousin Jerry - The Fats Of Life
Jack Tripper - Three's Company(a gay actor pretending to be straight playing a straight guy pretending to be gay - there's plenty there to serve as a role model)
Half of Harvey Korman's interpretations in The Carol Burnett Show (Prince Charming, for instance)
Half of Lyle Wagoner's ...
Laverne & Shirley
Cagney & Lacey (OK, early 80's)
Kate & Allie (OK, early 80's)
Didn't anybody read???
Of course, a fat lot of good it did me; my answer would have to be Ned Rorem.
Yes, people read - but it sounds like OP is asking about TV characters.
Just for the slight reference to it on Family, the Willie (Gary Frank) character, even though he wasn't supposed to be gay. On some level, I think I thought he was gay.
Matt Fielding (the token gay) on Melrose Place. While being gay he was only hanging around with straight guys (with the occasional gay guest character showing up) and kept most of his sex life away from his friends and the viewer.
Only years later I realized that I did the same thing to my circle of friends. They knew I was gay, but I never provided further details about my dates and I never even mentioned hook-ups even when they asked.
I agree with # 2 - Michael Toliver, 'Mouse' , from the original "Tales" . He was out, cute, sexy, vulnerable. Looked great , dancing in his white briefs.
'Jodie', from, 'Soap'
The movie "Torch Song Trilogy" opened my eyes to the gay world outside my community. Of course, Matthew Broderick's great looks in this, helped as well.
H.R. Pufnstuf - The Ed Koch of Dragons.
Steven Carrington again. Not so much by Steven but by how kind Krystle was to him and how loyal Fallon was to him. That scene where Al Corely left the show was excellent.
Brian Kinney. I wasn't a teenager anymore at that time but he was the gay character who made the biggest impact on me.
Oh yeah, the sad-sack guy in Fame. Because there's nothing more gay-affirming than a suicidal sad-sack.
Jody on Soap was the only gay character on tv for me pre-18. I liked the show, but the character was all over the map, wanted to be a woman, then multiple suicide attempts, ends up married to a woman. If fucked-up Jody had any influenced on young gay people in was probably more in the negative.
So I'll have to go with a non-actor, Boy George, he had his first hits in my late teens, and I still love him.
Since when was John Ritter gay, r24?
Er, since when was John Ritter gay, r28?
R44, since gay Three's Company viewers have been desperately grasping to give the fluffcom any significance.
There was an episode of FAMILY where Willie the son had a friend from high school who came to visit and Kristy McNichol's character, Buddy, had a crush on him. Willie wouldn't accept him but the rest of the family did and, by the end of the episode, Willie came around. I also remember the actor who played the friend as being very cute.
And so Buddy went lez in Part 2. I remember that.
That must've been after the Buddy's lesbian teacher episode, r47. Because I distinctly remember Sada telling the woman that they didn't approve of her lifestyle. Or maybe that was the late-70s tv version of tolerance, telling gay people you don't approve of their sexuality, but also not coming after them with pitchforks.
Eve Harrington. Addison DeWitt.
"You're an improbable person, Eve. And so am I. We have that in common."
[quote]Didn't anybody read???
If it's a book, it would have to be the Noah York character from Leave Myself Behind. But I was 22 when I read that, so it probably doesn't count.
John Rechy. And not in a good way.
After reading his book about cruising in Griffith Park, I stayed in for another five years. I didn't want that to be my life, an endless series of "No."
Ten years later, I moved to LA, and I just had to go cruising in Griffith Park. It wasn't fabulous (fabulous was cruising at the beach), but it wasn't the sexual desert Rechy described.
Steven Carrington as played by Al Corley. I never liked Jack Coleman's portrayal. Steven was kind and sensitive and struggled to live up to his father's ideal of masculinity even though that wasn't who he was. Very similar for many gay men of that era, and no doubt today as well.
Al Corley's portrayal helped me in my teen years as I struggled with my sexuality. I've seen interviews with him since, and it is clear that he really wanted to be true to that character's sexuality. He didn't like the direction the show went in making him bisexual, so he left the show rather than compromise his portrayal of the character.
It was a very old film when I finally saw it, but Peter Finch, in 1971's "Sunday, Bloody Sunday", portrayed his gay character as attractive, successful, well-adjusted and comfortable with his homosexuality. And it just so happens to be a all around terrific film. Find it, if you can.
Gail Strickland's character Marilyn in the 1988 TV series HeartBeat; this was one of the earliest portrayals of a lesbian character on American network television.
I can remember watching the show simply because of Gail Strickland, but then when they did the big reveal a great deal of things clicked within me and set in motion a profound admiration for Ms. Strickland. I miss not seeing her around as much.
My girlfriend is still enthralled by Jo on The Facts of Life.
I adored "Get Real". It was one of the first gay films I watched. Thanks for the memories and link, R10.
Back in the late 90s when the internet was still kind of fresh and new, the Ben Silverstone fansite (the lead from Get Real) was my introduction to a gay friendly community with chats and slash fiction about Get Real characters.
I'd seen plenty of gay women in tv and movies and read about them in books, but it was all crazy lesbians for the most part, Single White Female or Bound type of deals. Then there was the other type of lesbian character which I found in movies like Leora and to an extent shows like Ellen (though maybe it was more the public reaction to Ellen than the show itself).
With Leora,a movie I dug up at my local Blockbuster, I don't know the message I got was "you will be sad lonely and depressed with no right to raise children".
Then with Ellen, though the show didn't say this, it sort of reinforced that message in my mind with the public reaction and swift cancellation.
It probably didn't help that my entire family is obsessively religious and we actually went to a church that held an all night prayer session begging God to cancel Ellen's show.
So, I think I ended up putting it out of my mind for a while because my little pre-teen mind concluded that I would either turn into a crazy stalker, be depressed for life, or have the entire world hating on me and be punished by god.
So, later I happened to hear about a character on All My Children who was pregnant with her rapist baby. Initially I just wanted to watch the story because I had something similar happen to a friend and I was trying to be supportive. Then I found out Bianca was gay and I went back and watched the whole story. It wasn't all hunky-dory but it was the first time I could recall seeing a story where a woman wasn't being punished for liking other women and hadn't gone crazy or been permanently cut off from her family. That was a big part of me finally being able to accept myself.
r38's video was pivotal for me in the spring of 1982 when it aired. I was 12 years old and seeing a man so defiantly announce that he was gay was practically cathartic to me. It's one of the few television moments from my youth where I can actually remember sitting in the living room in South Elgin, Illinois, watching it, alternately thrilled and horrified that my dad, who was in the kitchen eating a late dinner, wouldn't come in to the room.
As far as books: around the same time I was reading Belva Plain's "Random Winds," where one of the female characters marries an English aristo whom she catches in the act with his "best friend" -- afterward, they have a rather frank discussion about it, she agrees to remain married to him but has an affair with her sister's husband. Naturally.
Nobody for Dog Day Afternoon I see or Midnight Cowboy.
For me it was Alexander Duncan, Teenage male prostitute in a made for t.v. movie from 1977 and played by the super hot Leigh McCloskey.
I totally identified with that guy. Even tried selling my ass as the local rest stop.
The scene of 2 women washing the dishes together in Personal Best... first time I saw anything that represented "normal life" for same sex partners. Searing image on my 6th grade brain!
Marvin and Whizzer in MARCH OF THE FALSETTOS. Seeing FALSETTOLAND at Playwrights Horizons and watching one of them die at the end completely unraveled me.
The cartoon characters of Hercules and his centaur sidekick, Newton. They bonded. And Hercules was a hunk.
Erich from "Midnight Express" who was in love with Billy - it was the first time I ever saw a gay character that wasn't mincing or bitter...and he didn't die in the film.
I'd forgotten the character played by Richard Warwick in "If."