Thursday, 22 July 2010

Gay Corrie

Years ago I used to watch the Soaps, but for a decade or more I've had no interest.  I watch Eastenders perhaps twice a year and never see the awful Hollyoaks (where the kids seem to have lots of money but will die before they leave college).  The longest running of the Soaps is Coronation Street of course - the little street where everyone goes to the pub for lunch every day and every evening and then complain that they have no money.

It was the last of the Soaps to introduce a gay character and the odd time I've seen him, I have cringed at how embarrassing the character is and been annoyed at how little thought the Coronation Street producers have invested into a quality gay storyline.

Actor Anthony Cotton plays Sean Tully and it surprised me that a gay man playing a gay man is happy to act the part of the worst stereotype I've seen on TV.  It seems that the writers referred to the TV from the 1970's for their inspiration.

The character is overtly camp, which helps to make him a letter less threatening for the viewing public I suppose.  He rarely makes a comment about men or gay lifestyle, you don't see a serious long term relationship develop (like others on The Street), by far the majority of his friends are women and he works on a sewing machine in a clothing factory!  The writers of Soaps are often a little lazy with storylines, but at least you can appreciate the care they take when building a character.  In this case, I see nothing but corner cutting and the need to use stereotypes to avoid having to do some serious thinking.  It's strange, because the Todd gay storyline from a few years back was imaginative and had real drama... without the camp overtones.

There are gay men around who are camp, but none who seem to exhibit all of the worst stereotypes the Corrie individual has.  This situation does nothing to help people see gay men and women as just everyday people.

Even gay Eastenders actor John Partridge has said that he doesn't want to come across as a stereotype and although there will be aspects of that I'm sure, it's refreshing to hear his opinion.
I miss the shock and eventual admiration that Queer Of Folk invoked all those years ago.  Maybe I'm just showing my age now.  Having said all this, John Inman in All You Being Served was so over the top, that it was funny!


  1. I read that survey that Stonewall carried out of representations of LGBT people on the TV, in shows for young people and no surprise, it was a poor show, offering mainly negatives and cliche.

    Very depressing, we still have a long way to go with fair and balanced representations of gay people on our tele's and I'm not sure they fathom the impact they have on people's perceptions.

    A real shame.

  2. It's another weird coincidence that I post this on the day Stonewall release their views!

    I started this posting a few weeks back and just completed it.

    So strange.

  3. It's strange, isn't it. The dreadful Eastenders had a far more believable gay character all those years ago. MIchael Cashman did a good job an the material was substantially better. The Corrie Poof is a cartoon character, too camp to despise, but pretty dreadful. The only almost believable LGBT character in it is Hayley. But she fails badly, too, because, let's face it, to play a Trans person one needs a Trans actor, though Hollyoaks may yet surprise us.

    The BBC led the way, of course, with the first queer man (we weren't gay then) in Mrs Dale's Diary, on the wireless (I don't think we had radio ether!). Sally's husband left her in favour of a gentleman. That was shocking in those days (circa 1967), very much to the point, and, despite people being aghast, wholly believable.

    As I tried to say yesterday commenting on the Stonewall survey and back in January answering the BBC's own survey we are just ordinary folk. We need to be represented in the correct proportions, and in all the shades or ordinary that heterosexual folk are portrayed.

    We're way past the days of Are You Being Served.

  4. Saw yr comment on the bonkers (though irritatingly engaging) right-wing site Tangled Web. Don't know if you saw the piece by Andrew Pierce in the odious Daily Mail, but I am (reluctantly) forced to agree with him. He makes much the same point you did - and the Stonewall report. Far too many LGBT characters are awful stereotypes.
    Even if you watch the "yoof" TV (a category that I have no right whatsoever to be watching), you can always spot the gay characters. It is fantastic that there are gay characters on TV - but, er, why do they always have to be so, well, gay?

    (By the way - and then just to blow the "we-are-not-all-camp-stereotypes" my eye was caught by the seven posts on the lovely Fernando Torres. Now this is my kind of site ...)

  5. Wrote a lengthy comment on this yesterday but it got 'lost'. Started off by wondering if, re the Stonewall survey, this was another of the coincidences you mentioned in your last blog - and you've confirmed that it was. Now that's both weird and wonderful!
    I'll just say now (again!) that I couldn't watch 'Are...Served?' when it first came out in the 1970s as the Inman character was exactly the sort of 'safe'(for heteros) depiction of a gay character we were aggressively fighting against in all those dour rallies way back then, when gay equality was entirely po-faced and political. Nor, actually, can I watch it now as it has so many resonances with the struggles of then that it makes for uncomfortable viewing. However, I know it does have a large (cult?) following, even among gays - and, I believe, is popular on American cable channels, so who am I to argue? Still makes me cringe, though. And you wonder about showing YOUR age? ;-)

  6. Are You Being Served had a use, though. I'd far rather be laughed at than hit. Comedic characters went some way to allowing us some freedom to exist. My mother used to laugh at Julian and Sandy without even realising that they were a couple of bona queens.

    It's harder to hate something that makes you laugh.

    But the time for laughter is long gone. They camp comic queens have no purpose today, we no longer need the protection of humour. All we need is simple representation as what we are: human beings with all the ordinary frailties of human beings.

    The Gay Kray wasn't a violent criminal because he was queer. He just happened to be a violent psychopath and was homosexual.

    Ben Britten wasn't a well respected composer because he was homosexual, he just happened to be homosexual and a respected composer.

    We are the same as every other segment of society with one exception. We crave the emotional and physical comfort of the same sex.

  7. To be fair, Sean has had a few relationships, which weren't just one night flings, they did last quite a while!

  8. But they aren't treated in the same way as the straights. Crap character whatever happens to him.

  9. You got it right stephen. I also find Sean an embarrassment and I dont want to be associated with him at all and on any level.

  10. It seems as though some TV producers don't know how to represent gay people - and make their inclusion obvious - without recourse to stereotypes.

    The larger problem, I think, is that gay characters tend to be saddled with the job of representing a wider (and diverse) community. Given that single representation is always going to fall short in that task, it becomes vital to have more than one. In other words, does having a token gay character make the situation worse, rather than better?

  11. "The longest running of the Soaps is Coronation Street of course"

    Ehm, surely that's The Archers...

    ... and Adam and Ian have been together for years in that. They've well outlasted the relationship I was in when they first kissed in the "Polytunnel of Love".

  12. TV soaps.... sorry. My mum has listened to the Archers since the very first episode.