Today, gay characters are commonplace on TV shows and there are quite a few out gay celebrities. In an episode of Glee this season, two teenage boys kissed. We have a fairly long list of comfortably out people in entertainment, and now we've even got a CNN anchor who's out of the closet.
There was a time when only a select few people in entertainment were out of the closet. Scott Thompson was among those who was out from early on, and his approach to it was so open and honest that it was an inspiration to those of us who were out early on-- Kids in the Hall was, in essence, safe space for us-- even when sketches used homophobic language, it was done mockingly, in the same way that Blazing Saddles used racist language to mock and cajole the racists. So when I see something like this:
I fully understand the point behind it, knowing that despite the use of homophobic language, it's more mocking of homophpbia than anything else.
Or, one of my favorites:
And it's the gay-positive nature of this show that let's them use words and situations that could never otherwise be acceptable. Can you imagine any other sketch show getting away with this?
And, of course, it bleeds through the whole show... sketches around Gay themes go beyond just Scott:
And, of course, comedy is often about two people on a completely different page:
Of course, Buddy became a gay icon:
But I think my favorite turn on this ever was in this sketch:
And the thing about all this isn't just about homosexuality, being out, etc... it's about having fun with the outness, having a sense of humor about it that was intensely disarming. We've come a long way-- Kids in the Hall was always free to talk about gay issues, but only under the cover of comedy. It did it extremely well, but serious subjects, such as gay bashing, could only be addressed as jokes.
It would be years before television shows could be as free to talk about homophobia in a serious fashion for an extended period, but it might not have come about without people like Scott Thompson paving the way.