March is the first month of the year that I question my decision making, followed by June and October. For one reason or another Watermark tends to be lacking an administrative assistant during these months, which are our busiest months. In addition to the crazy schedule I have worked out for myself, these responsibilities fall on me. It isn’t easy and it leaves me wondering, what choices have I made to be in this position?
I often think about seeking counseling or a life coach, just to have that outlet or outside perspective to help put things in focus. When I attended regular 12-step program meetings, it was helpful. I realized the other day, though, I do have an outlet — albeit somewhat unconventional.
I watch an insane amount of television for a person in my position. Maybe it’s a Generation X thing? As a latchkey kid, I did spend my fair share of time in front of the boob tube. It’s funny now because I’m not sure my husband even turns the TV on when I’m not home. I have no shame about it. It’s my therapy, my escape and my inspiration.
I noticed something about TV this past week that I found hopeful in an otherwise dark time for the queer community. I was watching the new series “Rabbit Hole” on Paramount+. Side note, if Paramount+ or CBS makes a show, I’ll be watching. Especially if it involves any first responders. I get made fun of, but I don’t mind.
In the first episode of “Rabbit Hole” an FBI agent, played by Enid Graham, is explaining to the star of the show, Kiefer Sutherland, that she has to watch her daughter while working because her wife isn’t able to do it. Then the conversation just moved on. There was no fanfare that she was a lesbian, no indication that her sexuality needed any explanation. She had a wife and that was that.
Television has come a long way since my early days. I have vague memories of seeing Billy Crystal play a gay character on “Soap.” My recollection was that gay people were portrayed as the butt of the joke and melodramatic, but I should cut them some slack since it was a comedic parody of daytime sitcoms.
1992 was an instrumental year where my gayness collided with my love of television. First up was a made-for-TV movie called “Doing Time on Maple Drive,” where the adorable William McNamara played a gay teenage who tried to kill himself rather than come out to his parents. Incidentally, a young Jim Carrey played his alcoholic brother in a rather dramatic role.
Next up was Ryan Phillippe as gay teen Billy Douglas in ABC’s soap opera “One Life to Live.” This character was the first gay character in an American soap opera and the storyline carried on from 1992 to 1993. It was a big deal at the time and Ryan Phillippe has stated his role had an impact on many lives. He had received coming out letters from people ranging in age from teenagers to 60-year-old men. They didn’t have anyone they could come out to but saw themselves in this character and felt compelled to share that with him.
It was in 1994 that Ellen DeGeneres came out and for me the portrayal of queer characters began to show the community as an average Joe. In 1998, “Will & Grace” hit the airwaves and changed the community forever. In 2009, “Modern Family” picked up the baton. Yes, these shows were full of stereotypical tropes, but they put our community in America’s living rooms and created a space for change.
Today there are queer characters in almost every show I watch, from all corners of our community. From genderfluid characters in the reboots of “Quantum Leap” and Roseanne” to trans, lesbian and gay characters in shows like “911: Lonestar,” there are positive, often heroic role models for everyone who lives regular lives surrounded by families and friends. This is where I find my hope.
In this election cycle we are the pawns once again in a manufactured culture war based on misinformation. It is scary and demoralizing, but I find comfort in our stories being represented in national primetime television. The power of our community so prevalent in the homes of America can not be overstated.
In this issue of Watermark we focus on our bisexual siblings, the silent majority, and show you what’s queer in this year’s Florida Film Festival.
We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.