Posted at 5:02 AM May 28, 2009
By Kathleen Wilcox
Good grief! What is it with gay subplots and soaps?
No one blinks an eye when gay characters crop up on prime time--Will & Grace's plot relied almost exclusively on the unique reality, horrors and joys of being an out and (mostly) proud homosexual in America today. Marc St. James is one of the most popular characters on Ugly Betty, and Reality TV would not exist with the gaggles of gay participants and judges in its ranks, but there seems to be some sort of mysterious consensus among some of our country's crazier contingent that the hours between 9 am and 4 pm should be devoted exclusively to depictions of straight luurve.
When Bianca and Reese got hitched on All My Children, CNN covered the story with as much breathless enthusiasm as it does the latest behind-the-scenes machinations in Congress over the federal bailout of the auto industry. And the right-wing religious nuts couldn't wait to release a statement on the subject: "I think it is really important to understand that there are a lot of things that people don't really want to see and don't want coming into their homes, and lesbian weddings are certainly one of them," Glenn Stanton of the group Focus on the Family told CNN. Fans didn't react much better.
(Something to keep in mind in the midst of the madness: The actual portrayal of gay characters during Daytime TV has improved dramatically. One of the first gay subplots, aired in 1977 on Days of Our Lives, involved Sharon Duval confessing her Sapphic desires to Julie Williams, who responded by running screaming from the room).
The latest nonsense is happening backstage. The Young and the Restless has waved goodbye to Chris Engen, who allegedly left the soap in a huff when he found out his character (Adam Wilson) was involved in an upcoming same-sex storyline. (He would have had to kiss a boy. Cooties!) A source on set told TVGuide Canada that "Chris hasn't been happy for a while. He doesn't like the dark direction his character is taking. He's called in sick a lot recently and has been taking a slew of meetings with Y&R's [executives] to discuss his future on the show." Michael Muhney will reportedly take over his slot.
Engen refutes the rumors and issued a statement that reads in (large) part:
"I want to apologize to any of my fellow actors who I may have disappointed. I would also like to apologize to those of you who feel slighted by this choice, as I have been branded a 'homophobe' by several members of the press.
This is, of course, absurd and many of my dearest friends are homosexuals who would be more than happy to speak on my behalf. ... True -- I was not comfortable with many of the challenges they presented before me, but I put my head down and did my job. ... I believe that as an actor, and as a human being, I deserve better than to be forced to do something that I don't feel is right on many levels, and that should have nothing to do with the choices that other people make.
My visage and my craft were being utilized to tell a story that I wasn't inspired to tell. I have a great deal of respect for the show in general and all those hard-working people who make it possible, and it is out of respect for them and a sense of duty toward them that I asked to be removed from my duties.
I know this doesn't conform to contract stipulations and it is regrettable that my personal feelings came into conflict with that precedent, although I don't think that would have ever been the case if what was being requested of me was not unprecedented."
The object of Chris/Adam's future affection (and now Michael/Adam's) is Rafe Torres, portrayed by Yani Gellman. The actor told Out.com that while he wasn't aware that a gay plot was in his future when he signed onto the gig, he's totally "cool with it."
GLAAD someone is!