The Gay Guide to “Sex and the City”

The movie version of HBO’s iconic series Sex and the City
hits theaters on May 30, bringing with it an endless number of articles and pop
cultural references about how it’s really the story of four gay men. Given that
that two of the most important creative forces behind the show – Michael
Patrick King and Darren Star – are gay, this theory isn’t surprising, although
way too much has been written about it.

So while everyone else is busily focusing on the four
fabulous leads, let’s pour ourselves a Cosmopolitan and take a look beyond
them, to the actual gay characters on the show, Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson)
and Anthony Marantino (Mario Cantone).

Debuting the same year as Will & Grace, Sex and the City’s gay characters
weren’t exactly groundbreaking in that both had some rather commonplace gay
stereotypes (colorful clothing, saying “fabulous” a lot), but the show’s frank
treatment of their sexuality was definitely something new and noteworthy for U.S.
audiences.

It’s Brutal Out There

The lovable Stanford is Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Paker) best
male friend who has known her since their club-hopping days in the 80’s when
she was “riding the subway and wearing Candies”. His was one of the larger roles
of any SATC’s supporting characters, having
appeared in 28 of the show’s 94 episodes. Stanford often served as Carrie’s gay
sounding board for her insecurities and fears about sex, love and singledom.

Willie Garson as "Stanford"

Indeed, the first time we meet Stanford he optimistically tells
Carrie, "The only place you can still find love and romance in New York is the gay
community." Not exactly comforting words for a straight gal looking for
true heterosexual love.

Unfortunately, that optimistic outlook doesn’t last long for
Stanford as his gay romance bubble is soon burst by the cruel realities of the gay dating life. As he later laments to Carrie, “I’ve
had it with the whole gay scene. It’s so competitive." While Stanford was a lot of things – smart, successful – he wasn’t what could be called "hot" in most circles.

What caused his change of heart? In his first real storyline
of the series, Stanford recounts to Carrie how he placed a slightly embellished
personals ad describing himself as “Witty, successful, Ed Harris-type, seeks
similar with sense of humor."

Someone answers the ad, and they arrange to meet for a
“date”. Perhaps Stanford should have
sensed trouble when their meeting spot was a street corner. Indeed, the other
man arrives, takes one look at Stanford and immediately delivers this wincing
blow, “Sorry, this isn’t going to happen.” He then turns and walks away. Given that the other fellow wasn’t exactly George Clooney himself, the rejection truly stung.

"It’s brutal out there," Stanford tells Carrie.
"Even guys like me don’t want guys like me. I just don’t have that gay
look."

Discouraged by the prospect of finding true gay love,
Stanford decides life at least owes him financial security. He asks Carrie for
help with his wealthy grandmother, who has promised an inheritance to all of
her grandkids – or at least those who get married.

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