WHICH CAME FIRST — THE CHICKEN OR THE GAY DAD?
Last week Out magazine published the results of their Love and Sex Survey and one of the most notable results was the very large generation gap between gay men on the subjects of gay marriage and having children.
While only 51% of those aged 36 to 45 want to get married, 80% of those 18 to 25 want to do so. The gap is even bigger when it comes to having children. While a whopping 70% of those under the age of 25 want little bundles of joy, only 31% of those over 25 are interested in changing diapers. Even though this is Out‘s first time doing this survey, I’d wager that even ten years ago, the gap wouldn’t have been nearly so large.
Coincidentally — or not — this week saw the debut of USA’s Fairly Legal, yet another show which includes an out gay man who is a dad. This comes on top of Kevin and Scotty apparently moving ahead with their adoption of Olivia on Brothers & Sisters, while over on Desperate Housewives, Bob and Lee have adopted Liza. Heck, even Christian and Olli on Forbidden Love in Germany are parents now. And, of course, we can’t forget Cameron and Mitchell of Modern Family.
Ethan Embry as Spencer on Fairly Legal
And that got me to wondering, have all those young gays been watching TV, seeing all those happy ‘mos with kids, which then prompts them to say to their significant other, “Honey, let’s get a surrogate pregnant!” Or is the popular culture simply reflecting what’s going on in the gay community?
Gay dads on TV aren’t exactly a new phenomenon, of course. Way back in 1972, the TV movie That Certain Summer was about a gay man who had a son that didn’t know his dad was gay. And over the years other shows have included gay men as fathers including The OC, Queer as Folk and even Will & Grace. But more often than not, those children resulted from when the men were previously married or accidentally got someone pregnant while trying to figure out their sexuality. There were exceptions like David and Keith on Six Feet Under or the gay dads in the 2003 sitcom It’s All Relative, but nowadays it seems like every gay man who is a dad actually set out to be a dad.
I find this trend somewhat ironic as our counterparts over at our sister site AfterEllen have long lamented the fact that every lesbian on television seems to eventually end up pregnant. Meanwhile, us gays were usually depicted as flighty or bitchy or fashionistas or sex-crazed, if not all all four. But we certainly weren’t parent material.
And while I can’t argue with the thesis that TV lesbians were often knocked up as a way to desexualize them and make them more palatable to mainstream audiences, I don’t think the same can be said about what’s happening with gay men on TV. Yes, I know some will argue that giving gay men children also dexualizes the men and makes them more “mainstream,” but far too often popular culture has show gay men as hypersexed, so I can live with that.
More than that, I think the Out survey shows that it’s a pretty accurate reflection of what a certain segment of the gay community is feeling these days and that what we are seeing on B&S or Modern Family is reflecting that change, rather than driving it. I know that some conservative wingnuts like to blame popular culture for everything from teenage sex, to drug use, to voting Democratic, but in this case it’s us ‘mos pushing the envelope.
That being said, I think these gay TV dads are hugely influential on the popular culture as they can change the minds of the straight people watching who might not yet be down with the whole gay marriage/parenting thing. Honestly, who can watch Mitch and Cam and not want them to live happily ever after. In fact, there are already reports that MF is hugely popular with conservatives, so you know some minds are being changed.
As for Brent and myself, after watching Fairly Legal, we decided to jump on the bandwagon and adopt! Okay, not really. We’re more likely to announce that, inspired by Black Swan, we’re moving to New York to take up ballet dancing in hopes of being so devoted to our craft we go bonkers and get nominated for an Oscar.
We did talk about having kids when we first got together, but Brent was never keen on the idea. I did think I wanted to be a dad, at least until I smashed my third computer to bits after the screen froze up, forcing me to realize that perhaps I didn’t have the quite the right temperament to be a parent. Thankfully, I never got anyone pregnant before figuring that out!
Next page! Glee isn’t on the air right now and yet….