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TV's LGBTQ portrayals of the nuclear family have come a long way

  • LGBTQ shows of the 1990s and 2000s tended to focus on as what Armistead Maupin called the "logical family" -- the family as community, as seen on shows like Will & Grace. But shows like The Fosters, Schitt's Creek, Modern Family, Vida and Transparent have shown what it means to be LGBTQ within the nuclear family. "Long gone are the tight-knit visions of gay community that the likes of Queer as Folk, The L Word and, more recently, Looking envisioned," says Manuel Betancourt. "Instead we have narratives about how to live one’s life alongside one’s parents in a dingy small-town motel, one’s newly famous brother in New York City or one’s half-siblings in California. Modeling a new kind of acceptance, these onscreen families would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. But in their near-myopic focus on the family, they also risk reproducing a hetero-normative ideal that can only imagine queer people as worthy of our time and our sympathy so long as they are our relatives. At an institutional level, nuclear family structures still exclude members of the LGBTQ community at large — which means the 'logical family' disappearing from view in favor of the biological one is a double-edged sword, at once progressive and conservative." Betancourt also points to Pose's portrayal of family as groundbreaking. "Pose dreams up an expansive vision of what a queer household can look like, keenly balancing everyone’s personal concerns with broader community-wide issues," says Betancourt.

    TOPICS: LGBTQ, The Fosters, Modern Family, Pose, Schitt's Creek, Transparent, Vida, Will & Grace