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On March 4, 1998, Michael Stephens wrote:
>I believe it was just the film [*Fame* (1980), as opposed to the
television series later based on it, that featured a gay character]... Paul
McCrane played Montgomery MacNeil
>in the film...who came out during junior year.... his character did not
>make it into the TV series maybe because it might have been too much for
>a music/variety show like FAME...
 
When the series *Fame* premiered on NBC in the spring of 1982, it did
indeed feature the character Montgomery, this time played by P.R. Paul.
However, his sexual orientation was never made explicit on the show, and
when the series returned that fall, the character was dropped.
 
In another post that day, Meryem C. Ersoz mentioned
>BEWITCHED, which marries Paul Lynde, a gay
>man/warlock, to his estranged wife, Agnes Moorhead, a lesbian/witch. These
>characters don't seem to fit comfortably in the heterosexual frame even
>in their TV characters, but they are not portrayed on the show as
>particularly "gay" either. Carnivalesque, perhaps. Someone, somewhere has
>written on this topic, but I can't remember who it was.
 
Perhaps the reference is to an article on Paul Lynde that appeared in the
Fall 1994 issue of *The Yale Journal of Criticism*.  I can't remember the
author's name either, but the article discusses the ways in which Lynde's
homosexuality is simultaneously intimated and contained in avuncular roles
(for example, Uncle Arthur on *Bewitched*, Jeannie's uncle on *I Dream of
Jeannie*) and in appearances as "a special guest star" (*Hollywood
Squares*, *Donny and Marie*).  By the way, a colleague of mine once told me
that he detected a pattern of stars who sat in the "center square" on
*Hollywood Squares" often (or perhaps always) being gay.  I don't know if
this is true or not, though someone might wish to look into it.
 
In reference to the critical literature on this subject, I thought I'd also
mention an insightful chapter on "lesbian sitcoms" by Alexander Doty, in
his book *Making Things Perfectly Queer* (1993).  There, he discusses the
ways in which popular female-centered comedies such as *Laverne & Shirley*
and *The Golden Girls* displace the issue of homosexuality to (often
one-shot) gay male characters but allow for inferences of lesbianism
through style, mise en scene, characterization, and narrative development.
 
Finally, adding to the list of characters, I recall episodes of *Charlie's
Angels* where Bosley, the token male detective who was featured regularly
on the program, could be interpreted as gay.  I do not think that there has
been much critical discussion of the character's sexual orientation, save
for Brooks and Marsh's remark (in their reference book on prime-time
television programs) that he seemed unlikely to make a pass at his women
co-workers.
 
Allan
 
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