We know we’re a little late on this, but news travels slowly across the Atlantic (gay news especially, as it prefers to doggy paddle), and Doogie Howser isn’t that culturally important here to begin with (who knew?). But the recent coming out of Neil Patrick Harris provides a nice counterpoint to the crystal-meth-with-an-aging-hooker Ted Haggard mess.
Harris was one of New York’s gay characters that we loved to see around. Unlike a Graham Norton or Alan Cumming, who would show splashily up to any event with whatever young thing they were fucking at the time (or looking for the next one), Harris just went out occasionally with his friends. Or with his very cute, appropriately-aged boyfriend. Fishwatch and Bigmouth saw them together at a Christina Aguilera concert (though Fishwatch barely remembers because he met Tim Gunn at that party and since then life has all seemed a little black and white). We also remember sitting behind him and the boyfriend at Broadway Bares and watch them giggle at all the male strippers, along with the rest of us.
After we saw him at Broadway Bares, we teased him a little for being closeted. But it appears he never really did deny being gay, or at least not recently.
Obviously, a lot more stories like Haggard’s are going to make a lot bigger headlines than ones about slightly obscure sitcom stars (even if “How I Met Your Mother” is a genius show). But every one that there is to counterbalance gross, messy confusing ones like Haggard’s or Mark Foley’s is a step in the right direction. Because at the end of the day, Americans spend more time watching evening television, or listening to pop music, than they do worrying about the personal lives of politicians and religious leaders.
Over here in Spain, there are a lot of reasons why gay marriage has reached a 70% approval rating. But one of the factors that all of the activists we’ve interviewed have mentioned was the presence of gay characters on television. Popular soaps included gay storylines, and successful game show hosts came out of the closet. This made being gay seem a lot more normal and inoffensive for TV viewers.
We can only hope the US begins to follow in this tradition more (“Will and Grace’s” writers are crafting a new gay sitcom, we hear…). And not just for the cause of gay rights. Check out the host of the American version of “Deal or No Deal:”
Now check out Jesus Vasquez, the host of the Spanish version. He’s openly gay, and married:
Don’t try to think about it too much. It hurts.