Jump to content

Gay Stereotypes Live on Modern Family

Recommended Posts

I suppose I'm probably one of the few non-Republicans in America who doesn't like Modern Family.

I had never seen the program until ABC released it into syndication and it is now on two-thirds of the 535 channels on my cable system. Its not on the Home and Garden channel and it might not be on AL Jezeera America, but I don't know since my cable system is flag-waving and God-fearing and thus doesn't show Al Jazeera. However, I have now seen it and I am not happy, which is probably no surprise to anyone who reads my righteously indignant rants.

Just once, just once, could we have a gay man on television who doesn't swish, who doesn't speak with a flamboyant style, and doesn't like Broadway musicals? Now, I know that I just described myself, but I don't want to watch myself on television. Yes, I swish, yes I am flamboyant, and yes I love Broadway musicals, but just as there are African-Americans who like fried chicken and watermelon, we don't see every black person on television eating fried chicken and watermelon. I'm sure there are some Jews in America who aren't doctors or lawyers and aren't outrageously frugal and fortunately television doesn't stereotype them that way anymore.

Why does the gay community still accept these stereotypes on television and in movies, even applauding the shows that display them? As one can see just from Awesome Dude, we're not all Jack from Will and Grace, we're not all Mitchell and Cam. Please! Can I see a hot, sexy queer man with big pecs and awesome arms? Can I see an insurance salesman with a beer gut who likes guys? How about anyone who isn't a limp-wristed, flamboyant queen? I'm not prejudiced against limp-wristed, flamboyant queens. Some of my best friends are limp-wristed, flamboyant queens. Hell, I'm a limp-wristed, flamboyant queen! But does every gay character on television have to be portrayed as such?

Okay. I'm done. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to a web site now for gay men who adore Les Mis and try to find a new boyfriend.

Link to comment

Well this didn't generate the discussion I was hoping for. Perhaps my post was a bit too tongue-in-cheek, but it is a topic that interests me.

We as a society--or at least most of us, those of us who don't believe the President was born in Kenya-- don't tolerate stereotypes of women, African-Americans, Latino Americans, or religious minorities. However, the media seems replete with gay male stereotypes, and gay men don't seem to be too bothered by this. Is it because this particular stereotype actually represents a large segment of the gay male population? I doubt it. When I used to frequent the bars, a large segment of the patrons certainly did adhere to the stereotype, but most didn't. I think there is a significant portion of the gay male population that does not participate in "gay" activities--going to bars, volunteering at HIV clinics or at the community center, participating in political activities, etc and they probably lead perfectly "normal" lives in which one would never have a reason to assume they are gay. So, I wonder why we are so blase about the prevalence of the stereotype on television and in movies.

I'm not irritated by the swishing, etc.and its not my internalized homophobia. As I joked in my original post, I exhibit several of the stereotypically gay attributes. What I wonder is why we don't see more gay men portrayed in ways that don't conform to the stereotype and why gay men do not complain about this more, rather than praise those programs and movies that portray them.

Link to comment

The resident Libertarian doesn't care for it either.

I've seen a few episodes and it was part of the reason I swore off TV.

The gay couple in Modern Family reminds me of a definition from the Urban Dictionary: while they are often tactless and crude, sometimes they are spot on.

Stepford Fags

A gay couple who are nice, sexless and nonthreatening. Typically they live in the suburbs, have an immaculate house and yard and don't scare the neighbors while they are in fact just as much a slave to heterosexist establishment as everyone else.
neighbor 1: Did you invite the Stepford Fags to the BBQ?

neighbor 2: Naw the wife did.

neighbor 1: Great! They can talk up the women while we put down a few beers.
Link to comment

I've never seen the show either. But I feel exactly the same way about stereotypes. It's strange, we seem to have a very hard time getting rid of stereotypes. When one becomes unfashionable and offensive, we simply move, as a society, onto something else.

Another example of this is plain old-fashioned gender-stereotyping. Many of us may remember the old TV and print ads from years gone by, the ones stereotyping and ridiculing women, and placing them squarely into limited and defined roles. This doesn't much happen any more, but ads often seem to, for whatever reason, be written with some kind of derogatory humor, so now if it's present it's inevitably the guy in the ad who is depicted as the buffoon. Kind of sad.

Link to comment

I'm 100% with Free Thinker on this. Neither my partner nor I like the over-the-top gay attitudes of the character in this show or Ryan Murphy's previous show New Normal. Definitely too "swishy," just pandering to the more outrageous aspects of gay life. I'd like to see a show that portrays all the shades of gray of gay people.

Murphy is doing a new show called Open about married people in open marriages, and apparently at least part of it is going to deal with married men who secretly go out on dates with other men on the down-low, so maybe this will get into that. And the current Showtime series Masters of Sex, set in the 1950s, had a fascinating gay segment where Dr. Masters was confronted with having to document and measure the performance of two gay men in this era... and neither was flamboyant at all. There was also a shocking surprise when he discovered the identity of a gay prostitute's paid customer, a major character who had been married (to a woman) for 20 years. Very interesting show.

Link to comment

I don't have anything against Modern Family - it's a sitcom full of straight stereotypes as well as the gay stereotypes. I'm still at the stage of being glad to see any gay characters in the media.

But I do watch an awful lot of gay-themed movies and TV, and I much prefer the gay characters who are 'ordinary', who behave just like everyone else except that they happen to be attracted to their own sex rather than to the other one. They're the ones I identify with.

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

Oops, this one passed me at the time.

I grew up in the 1960's and in my school of a total of about 1000 boys there was not a single one that swished... in fact there was not a single one that was sterotypically gay. Come to think of it that was equally true of university... about 6000 non-swishing students.

To me, swishing gays are a modern phenomenon... post Liberace and maybe Billy Crystal in Soap (wasn't he cute, sigh).

As potentially homo teens we simply had no-one to measure ourselves against... we also had no stereotype to adopt in order to attract others of our ilk

There were no gays in the village... just a lot of lonely bachelors.

Link to comment

No, effeminate gay people go back hundreds of years. Long before the word "faggot," they used "sissy" and similar words to insult effeminate-sounding gay men or boys.

I also grew up in the 1960s, and trust me, there were effeminate kids I knew (casually) who were insulted, sometimes to their face. And some really were swishy.

I accept effeminate people as who they are. A close friend of mine I've known for 30 years is fairly effeminate -- as he says, he was gay "in the womb" -- and he actually tried speech therapy in the 1980s to try to rid his gay affect and speak in a masculine, lower tone. It worked for a time, but he finally decided he was happier just being himself and gave up.

I was so firmly closeted and frightened when I was a teenager, I went out of my way to act and sound as masculine as I could, and refused to be perceived of as effeminate, especially in my voice. Eventually, when I came out, I stopped caring about it... but we are who we are, and our personalities are going to come out no matter what.

My problem with the gays in Modern Family is that it forces the typical gay stereotype on television. What's worse is that the quality of the acting and writing on the show is generally very good. The gay actor who plays half of the gay couple actually uses his real voice in the role.

Having met Sean Hayes before (the more-effeminate guy on Will & Grace), I can tell you he's 75% less effeminate off the air. So a lot of this kind of thing is very hyped-up and put on.

Link to comment

The most effeminate guy I ever knew was totally straight. That's absolutely true.

Or he just believed he was straight. :alien[1]:

A pal of mine who worked for a major studio for 25 years used to run into guys like this all the time and tell me, "I can't believe it! This guy I met talked like a duck, looked like a duck, acted like a duck... but he wasn't a duck!"

I think Saturday Night Live even did an entire sketch on the "Sensitive, Effeminate Straight Guy Show." Very funny bit.

I used to work with a somewhat effeminate guy who I just assumed was gay. He dropped a couple of hints, and there were some wink-wink, nudge-nudge moments, but nothing very overt and we kept everything strictly business. One day, much to my surprise, he introduced me to his wife, who was a fairly butch, masculine woman, wore pants, no make-up, very short hair. Very nice woman, but she was 10 times more masculine than the husband. We're talking red-flannel shirts, blue jeans, leather boots, the whole deal.

Once when the two of them left the room, my boss turned to me and we both kind of giggled and he said, "well, you can tell who wears the pants in my family." We both fell down laughing for five minutes.

I know it's wrong to make fun of people who have inclinations one way or the other, but these two were a weird combination. And yet they're still married and have been a couple for more than 20 years. More power to them -- both very nice people.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...