Time Magazine has a new special book out, The 100 Most Influential People Who Never Lived; I just finished going through it and was sad to see that not a single gay character from film, TV, literature, theater, etc., was mentioned. (Lynda Carter makes special mention of her gay fans and her support of LGBT causes in discussing Wonder Woman and there's a nod to the slash fiction of Kirk and Spock, but that's it -- even the bit about Achilles fails to mention Patroclus.)
So here are some of my choices (yes, some are listed as couples, as Romeo & Juliet were included in the book); who do think Time should've included?
Maurice Hall (Maurice)
Lost in Space's Dr. Zachary Smith spewed Datalounge worthy quips:
"I loathe children."
"Evil knows evil."
"Black was always my color."
"I shall treat that slur with the contempt it deserves."
"Daddy Zach, indeed! I never want to hear that revolting name ever again in my presence!"
"You tin-plated traitor!"
Dr. Frank N. Furter was not gay.
What was he, r3? I only saw it once and recall him having sex with 2 men.
Can't believe I forgot Maurice, r1. Good call.
R4 He had sex with both men and women. And I don't think he even qualifies as human.
What a bullshit poll.
The most influential fictional gay characters of all time are Mr. Rat, Mr. Mole, Mr. Toad and Badger, followed closely by Bert and Ernie.
Judas Iscariot gets my vote.
Where is the Paula Poundstone option?
It could well be Ellen DeGeneres, America's cheery lesbian pal.
Seriously, she appeals to the kind of people who used to be thoughtlessly homophobic, because that's how they were brought up.
Addison DeWitt from All About Eve
Emory from The Boys in the Band
Brick from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Antonio and Bassanio from The Merchant of Venice
Any character ever played by Franklin Pangborn
The idea that someone like Brick Pollitt could be influential is sort of sad. Who would want to emulate a repressed, bitter, alcoholic loser? The same goes with Emory. Who would watch that and say, "Thats what I want to be"?
I never got the impression Addison DeWitt was gay. True he is very fey, but thats more a result of him being a pompous and pretentious ass. Its pretty much stated near the end that in exchange for keeping her past a secret, Eve belongs to him and he intends to have sex with her.
Harriet the Spy
What a sorry listing.
No wonder Time didn't see fit to include any of the fictional gays.
Yeah, I thought this might be an interesting thread but OP killed it with his superficial poll.
[quote]Judas Iscariot gets my vote.
r7, you are so very wrong.
Judas Iscariot is one character who could NOT have been gay. No gay man EVAH would betray our Lord and Savior for 4 place settings and a five piece hostess set.
18 posts and no mention of Tom Ripley, Patricia Highsmith's anti-hero as in her books on him, and the films ?
Clifton Webb's Waldo Lydecker in Laura
Clifton Webb's Mr Belvedere
Clifton Webb in The Razor's Edge
Because none of those people are influential.
influential (adjective) : exerting or possessing influence
influence (noun) : the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others
R6, that was my thought, too.
OP here; first, I wanted to select only those characters whose sexuality was explicitly stated, thus excluding many of the pre-Stonewall characters such as Addison DeWitt and Waldo Lydecker or the Wind in the Willows characters.
Tom Ripley is a good choice; didn't think of him when I was creating the poll. Another one I just thought of is Brian Kinney from "Queer as Folk," though I hated the character and the actor playing, there's no denying he had a considerable impact on a segment of our culture.
That said, I think it's right that Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist are winning this poll; they are probably the most famous fictional gay couple of all time to mainstream society (it's worth noting that the Time book includes several very recent characters they consider influential, such as Don Draper from "Mad Men").
Perhaps I should've listed Will Truman with Jack McFarland; even though they weren't a couple, their pop culture presence has had a profound effect on society -- it's debatable the level of that impact, but the very fact that individuals as diverse as Joe Biden and Sandra Day O'Connor have cited "Will & Grace" as an influence is worthy of note.
r16 30 pieces of silver will buy you a lot of Lennox. Think about it?
The day time soap characters.
I see a lot of people are choosing Brokeback Mountain. How do you think the characters influenced people?
Don't discount more "subtle" gay characters and the influence they can have...
Dr. Callie Torres and Dr. Arizona Robbins on "Grey's Anatomy"
Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker on "Modern Family"
Will & Jack on "Will & Grace"
Kevin Walker and Scotty Wandell on "Brothers & Sisters"
Without a ton of fanfare or "special episodes" or even notoriety, these characters have had major influences over time, I think.
I think on that list it has to be the Brokeback boys and Jack (yes, you should have included Will). Not for any artistic merit necessarily, but because an unprecedented amount of straight people knows who those characters are, and were forced to examine their own feelings/thoughts/prejudices on the reality of a world that includes gays in it.
I would guess that many, if not most, of the other characters have influenced gays, but are largely unknown in the straight community.
I'd have to go with Will Truman and Jack McFarland, along with the many, many guests who portrayed gay people - Chita Rivera, Michael Douglas, Michelle Lee, Jeff Goldblum, Leslie Jordan, etc., etc. All those gay characters were parading across living rooms in America for eight years.
But older folks posting on this thread might argue that the pre-Stonewall characters like Addison DeWitt, Brick and the Clifton Webb creations might be considered just as, or more, influential because they weren't written as overtly gay.
In the early days gays longed for anyone glamorous on the silver screen to identify with that wasn't in the Franklin Pangborn mode.
Tom Hanks in Philadelphia
Maybe I should ask what you mean by "influential"? I don't think any have changed society or anything. Or do you mean, which have been most positive and visible to the straight world?
I would say a mixture of both, r31. As I mentioned upthread, Joe Biden seems to feel that Will Truman and Jack McFarland changed society's perceptions of gay people; meanwhile, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist are probably the most famous fictional gay couple that straight people can identify.
All of Will & Grace...actors, writers, producers. Great, landmark show.
The most influential gay character of all was called Don Finlayson. He was in an Australian prime-time soap that started in 1972 called Number 96.
Don was a practising lawyer and a bit of a pillar-of-the-community. The actor was very good-looking. The writers waited six weeks, till the character was firmly established as a big favourite and the male sex symbol of the show, before they revealed he was gay and in a relationship with his flatmate. Don's second long-term relationship, also live-in, was with a very flamboyant guy.
Number 96 was the most-watched Australian show of the early 1970s; an institution. Don's obvious normality, watched by a huge cross-section of the population night after night, pretty much buried homophobia as far as the mainstream audience was concerned. All those married people who'd have said "I've never met a gay person", now knew one well.
This has often been acknowledged as a factor in the very successful way Australia handled HIV/AIDs, which struck five years after Number 96 went off the air. People were open to seeing it as a medical, not a moral, emergency.
Retired High Court Justice Michael Kirby recently paid tribute to the Number 96 creator, David Sale, and to Don, in a foreword he wrote for Sale's book about his life in TV.
So, R31, there's a candidate for one who at least helped change society.
Will from Days of our Lives has had a major impact on gay acceptance.
I vote for Jack Nasty!
Mrs. del Mar
[quote]Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist are probably the most famous fictional gay couple that straight people can identify.
I don't know any straight people who saw that film. No doubt, the gay people who live in NYC, L.A., and San Francisco imagine that everyone in the immediate planet saw Brokeback. It's not so. The film didn't make a huge impact on billions of straight people.
Melville Farr in 'Victim', 1961.
Matinee idol and bachelor Dirk Bogarde plays top lawyer implicated in gay blackmail ring. Contributes notably to social shift leading to the UK decriminalisation of homosexual acts six years later.
[quote]Will from Days of our Lives has had a major impact on gay acceptance.
That's right. Our office shuts down every afternoon so all the straight men can go to the break room to watch Days of our Lives. Will has made a huge impact on gay acceptance.