Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Willow Rosenberg

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Confidence is not always something that some of us have naturally, especially when we are teenagers. Confidence sometimes has to be grown into. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy’s BFF, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) was not the most confident when the series started. Book smart, tech smart and a little awkward, Willow was not exactly at the top of high school social hierarchy. But she was not alone in her social awkwardness. Her other BFF, Xander (Nicholas Brendon), was equally looked down upon.

But then things changed for her. Willow discovered that not only was she a witch, but also found solid romantic relationships. In high school, she dated rocker/werewolf Daniel “Oz” Osbourne (Seth Green). In college, she not only came out of the closet and dated Tara Maclay, but also became confident with her magical abilities.

But even with her new-found confidence, Willow is far from perfect. Her addiction to magic nearly kills her and everyone around her. It nearly ruins her relationship with Tara and compounds her grief when Tara is murdered. But she is able to heal from the loss of Tara, move on from her addiction and find the will to move on with her life.

To sum it up: Watching a character gain confidence in who they are and their abilities can be a very compelling narrative. Over the course of the series, Willow grew from a teenage girl who doubted herself to a woman who faced personal trials and survived. That story is as old as the human race and continues to be compelling because we all go through a similar narrative in our lives.

P.S. As a Jewish redhead, seeing myself reflected on-screen was the cherry on the top of the ice cream that is Willow Rosenberg.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson Book Review

Depending on your age, Rock Hudson can be one of several things. If you came of age in the 1950’s and 1960’s, he was your matinee idol. Tall, handsome, with dark hair, a strong jaw and a compassionate nature, he was Hollywood’s version of the All-American boy. If you are a member of the LGBTQ or the medical community, he is the first major celebrity to die from HIV/AIDS, putting a face on a disease and a community that in the early 1980’s was vastly misunderstood.

This year, writer Mark Griffin published a new biography of Rock Hudson entitled, All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson.

Born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr in 1925 in Illinois, the future Rock Hudson knew hardship at an early age. His father abandoned his family, his stepfather abused him and his mother was not the most maternal of women. Having an inkling that he was attracted to men at an early age, he learned to hide his sexuality. As an adult, he became the biggest name in Hollywood, but he was living two lives. In spite of the rumors and the potential scandal that threatened his career multiple times, Rock Hudson became the go to leading man for a generation of movie fans.

Containing interviews with colleagues, romantic partners and family members, this book is a must read for any movie fan. It draws back the curtain on the movie star to reveal a man who was deeply conflicted and living in a time when being who you were meant risking everything.

I absolutely recommend it.

P.S. If you have never seen a Rock Hudson film, I recommend that you start with Pillow Talk (1959). Hudson stars opposite Doris Day in what is one of my favorite romantic comedies. Granted, certain elements of the film are dated, but overall, it is a fantastic film.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Movies

It’s Called A Public Library For A Reason

If a book is a treasure, then the public library is a temple with countless and priceless treasures.

Paul Dorr is a Christian activist from Iowa. Displeased with a local Pride event last week, he burned several library books that belonged to the Orange City Public Library. The books were burned because they encouraged the reader to see beyond the stereotypes of the LGBTQ community.

While freedom of speech guarantees that Mr. Dorr can say what he likes without fear of repercussion, he cannot just burn books just because he disagrees with the subject matter. Especially books that are not his.

History has taught us that when books are burned, bodies come soon after.

It’s one thing to disagree with the subject of a book, it’s another thing to destroy it because it does not fit in with your personal beliefs.

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Filed under Books, National News

Thoughts On The 20th Anniversary Of Will & Grace

20 years ago today, an auspicious television series made it’s debut.

Will & Grace is the story of two best friends sharing a New York City apartment. Will Truman (Eric McCormack) is a gay lawyer. Grace Adler (Debra Messing) is a straight interior designer. Joined at the hip since college, Will and Grace are each other’s other half. Joined by Will’s wacky constantly out of work actor friend, Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) and Grace’s always buzzed assistant/socialite Karen Walker (Megan Mullally), this foursome has become an icon of modern television.

What the audience did not know is while they were laughing, they were also being educated about the LGBTQ community. Before Will & Grace, gay characters were often stereotypes or side characters who were not given the opportunity to shine. Will & Grace opened hearts, minds and helped to lead the way for many of gains that the LGBTQ community has made over the last two decades.

I have been a fan of Will & Grace from nearly the beginning. It has made me laugh, it has made me cry and most of all, it has made me think.

Happy 20th anniversary, Will & Grace!

 

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Filed under History, New York City, Television

Will & Grace Character Review: Jack McFarland

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In any comedy duo there are two important archetypes: the straight man and the comic. On Will and Grace,  Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) is the comic to Will Truman’s (Eric McCormack) straight man. If Will is trying to disprove the stereotype of the gay man, Jack is the iconic gay man. He is a drama queen, chases men like a dog chases a toy, loves show tunes and rarely has a serious relationship. While Jack tries to be a performer, his career in show business never quite gets to the level that he wishes it to be. As a result, he has had a series of jobs and is constantly relying on Will, Grace (Debra Messing ) and Karen (Megan Mullally) for financial assistance.

But even with all of that, Jack supports his friends and appreciates them. He is also the kind of character that helps to foster important conversations around the treatment and image of those in the LGBTQ community. Jack maybe based on a stereotype, but the character goes way beyond the stereotype.

To sum it up: Sometimes a character or a narrative, especially one based on a stereotype is not a bad thing. Especially when the character or the narrative can foster a conversation and create change that is long overdue. Jack resonates with audiences not just because he is a funny character, but because he has human qualities that many of us relate to. As writers, when we want to enact change to create a better world, we don’t get on our soapbox. We create characters and narrative that speak to and resonate with audiences or readers. That is the way to create effective change for the better.

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Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television

Jamel Myles Is Dead Because Of Bullies

Bullying in school is unfortunately, for many students, part and parcel of the education experience for many students.

Jamel Myles should be joining his peers for a new school year. Instead, he lies in his grave. He killed himself last week after experiencing an entire school year in which he and his older sister were constantly bullied. According to his mother, Leia Pierce, the administration did nothing to stop the bullying, especially after her son came out to her over the summer.

The boy’s grandmother, Jacque Miller, disagree’s with her daughter.

“The statement that it takes a village to raise a child is true,” she said. “And the village is broken.”

I agree with both statements. While the administration played it’s part, I believe that our overall culture had a hand in the unnecessary suicide of a young boy. Many members of the LGBTQ community experience bullying, regardless of whether they are in the close or out of the closet. There is also, from my perspective, a permissive attitude of parents and teachers that bullying in school is normal and part of the educational experience. It shouldn’t be, but it is. We should be teaching our children and ourselves to at least respect others, even if they are different or if we disagree with them.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to bring Jamel Myles back to life. But, we can honor his memory and the memory of too many who have taken their lives due to bullying by teaching our children and ourselves to respect others.

RIP James Myles. May your memory be a blessing.

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Filed under Mental Health, National News

Flashback Friday-Queer Eye (2003-2007)

The stereotype of straight men is they dress like slobs, are useless in the kitchen and generally unable to put themselves together. The stereotype of gay men is very much the opposite.

From 2003 to 2007, Queer Eye was one of Bravo’s biggest hits. It was a rare makeover show that for most of the run, focusing on men. Five gay guys, each with a specialty in a different area, would teach that episode’s subject on how to improve their life. Ted Allen was the food guru. Kyan Douglas was the expert in grooming. Thom Filicia was all about home decor and organization. Carson Kressley was the guide to the world of fashion. Jai Rodriguez’s expertise was in pop culture and relationships.

While the show’s focus was on the makeover of the men, it was much more than just another makeover show. It opened the door just little further to reducing the discrimination toward the LGBTQ community and humanizing what was and unfortunately still is a dehumanized minority.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

Thank You Ellen DeGeneres

Sometimes, for the world to change, it takes one brave person to step forward.

20 years ago this week, Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet, both on-screen and in real life.

In an episode titled “The Puppy Episode”, Ellen comes out of the closet to her therapist (played by Oprah Winfrey), to her crush Susan (played by guest star Laura Dern) and to the world.


It was nothing short of world-changing. Coming out of the closet is far from easy, but Ellen made it that much easier. The influence of that single sentence heard around the world is priceless. Without Ellen, not only would LGBTQ fictional characters remain secondary characters, but people in the closet in real life might never have had the courage to be themselves and fight for their rights.

Thank you Ellen DeGeneres for being yourself and encouraging others to do the same. Our world is a better place because of you.

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Filed under History, Television