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Time out for a homophobic soap break

Poor actor Mark Dobles, stuck playing a homicidal homo on One Life to Live. Why couldn’t the writers give him something less demeaning?

Llanview’s new lieutenant governor and a recovering alcoholic and newlywed, Daniel Colson, has murdered twice to keep his sexual identity secret.

No, it’s not real. It’s a controversial storyline on One Life to Live, a soap I used to watch a couple of years ago. The above description is from a currently running plot — I’ve not tuned in, the show has gone in the toilet — that the writers and the producers allege is an in-depth take on a McGreevey-type plot “on steroids.”

This is an offensive development trying to be spun in a positive light by those connected to the show. Since there are basically no gay characters on soaps (they don’t last long; if it looks like homo sex might occur, they end up dead, the lover moves away, or in the case of All My Children‘s Bianca, she gets raped/knocked up). Now that this character is front and center, what is he? An alcoholic murderer that’s ashamed that he’s gay, carrying on an affair with a man as he attempts to climbs the political ladder while married to a beloved principal character, Nora Buchanan, on the show.

GLAAD came down on the soap for this storyline.

GLAAD contacted ABC and One Life to Live to convey our concerns and to share with them the passionate reactions we’ve received from viewers via our website “The anger is understandable, but everyone needs to watch all of it,” executive producer Frank Valentini tells GLAAD. “This is a story about the harsher side of intolerance and about one man not being true to himself. There are going to be meaningful, frank discussions that come out of this.”

Discussions after the fact don’t change what’s come before it. “A story about a man who kills because he is gay only reinforces the idea that being gay is something to be ashamed of,” Romine says. “It’s a tired stereotype that internalized homophobia explodes into murder.”

And, as I said above, when it comes to gay characters, they don’t last long. OLTL is writing off both characters (Daniel and his lover).

It’s notable that GLAAD honored the series as Outstanding Daytime Drama for its gay-positive storylines last year. Another popular character, Marcie, was an advocate of gay marriage, on behalf of her brother who planned marry his partner. [Note again: the brother doesn’t even live in the fictional town of Llanview!] OLTL also tackled the homophobia when a college student came out of the closet and was harassed by friends. But as tentative as those positive steps were, the soap rolled it all back with this crazy homicidal homo plot.

It’s like a completely surrealistic experience watching soaps in the present day, knowing that the majority of the audience for soaps is perceived as conservative in nature. I only watched soaps regularly back in the “Luke and Laura” stone age days of late 70s/early 80s GH, and was a big fan of The Edge of Night. Kate still gets Soap Opera Digest, so I usually take a peek to see what is going on in the soap world. Based on some of the unhinged letters they get, there’s a big bible-beater audience out there, but there’s also a sizeable number of reasonable people that get out in the world and don’t agree with OLTL’s spin on this.

One hysterical thing that you’ll notice in these mags and on the fan web sites is that NO ONE in the soap world is openly gay, either in front of or behind the camera. It’s like a quaint throwback to the old days in Hollywood where everyone knew who was or wasn’t queer, and the studios paired of fags and dykes for public consumption, and the audiences bought it. I think the producers and sponsors would have a coronary if anyone wanted to come out of the closet, given their squeamishness about ratings and the fantasy that they want to present. It really is another world (no pun intended). Tom Cruise would fit in well here. 😉

Just a cursory flip onto SoapNet or through one of these fan mags and your gaydar just goes wild. I cannot fathom who thinks some of these highly metrosexual actors are straight!?

Now, I don’t know who for a fact is or isn’t gay, but Kate and I have our list of possibilities…


Another thing you’ll notice in the soap world is that there is a serious, obvious abuse of Botox. I don’t know if it is disproportionate to the rest of Hollywood/NYC, but maybe these folks are paranoid because a good deal of their work is shot in closeup (and now in HD!). Men and women. Scary stuff. The most painful face I’ve seen is that of Drake Hogestyn (Days of Our Lives). No lines, too tan, and scary hair. Stop the madness man – you look like a freakshow! Is he that scared of losing his job because of natural aging? Another painful victim of “over-construction” is Joan Van Ark, who did a stint on The Young and the Restless last year. There has been so much heinous work done that she looks to be working hard to catch up to Michael Jackson’s level of self-destruction. No wonder she’s got her hair over her face — she’s had the bungee-jump pull.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding