Watching "The Opposite of Sex" recently, it occurred to me that the gay
protagonists in the current crop of light-hearted comedies have all been
teachers: "The Object of My Affection" and "In and Out" also feature gay
teachers. ("My Best Friend's Wedding" bucks this trend, but neither the gay
character nor his job are as central to the plot as is the case in the
other movies mentioned.)
While it's heartening to see more frequent positive characterizations of
gay people in films these days, what might be going on with this "teacher"
angle? On one level it seems designed to confront homophobic stereotypes
about gay teachers. The teachers are accused of abuse, and then proven
innocent. This makes for some plot development, of course (as in "The
Opposite of Sex").
On another level, though, it seems to conform with liberal assumptions in
society about what gay men do best. Alongside the fear of pedagogical
pederasts, there seem to be another belief in society that gay men are
very good teachers, i.e. nurturing, supportive, instilling confidence and
self-worth = the very role models and emotional inspirations gay people
have had to find for themselves in our era.
Any other thoughts?
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite