Big Gay Following: Seth MacFarlane
BY Brandon Voss
January 25 2008 1:00 AM ET UPDATED: February 10 2014 4:57 AM ET
He’s not “family,” but Emmy-winning Family Guy and American Dad creator Seth MacFarlane consistently packs his irreverent animated sitcoms with queer gags and subplots, even devoting entire episodes to hot-button gay issues such as marriage and adoption rights. With his sexy baritone (similar to Family Guy’s alcoholic dog Brian, just one of the many colorful characters he voices himself), the 34-year-old devoted Democrat drew us in to discuss what makes homosexuality so damn funny, and — step aside, Dumbledore — out one of his most popular characters as “almost certainly gay.”
The Advocate: I hope you’re prepared for my very gay line of questioning.
Seth MacFarlane: I spent half the holidays with my gay cousin, so I think I’m good to go.
How did your cousin inform your views on homosexuality?
We went to see him in a show when he was in high school or college, and I remember my parents talking about the fact that he might be gay and just doesn’t know it yet. It turned out that they were right. With certain parts of our family, it was taken for granted — “Oh, he’s gay” — and we didn’t think any more of it. Other parts of the family were, at times, less enlightened about it. At one point somebody said, “Maybe there’s a way for him to be cured,” which was fucking horrifying to hear from somebody that you love. But I credit my parents for raising me to be a logical person. I went to a very conservative boarding school called Kent with a lot of Republican students from very wealthy families, and a lot of times that does come with an unfortunate amount of negative traditionalism. I certainly remember hearing students use the word “fag” and whatnot, but it didn’t really register with me just because I hadn’t been directly exposed to any openly gay people yet. But then when I was, it was nice to find out that my brain was already set up the right way, so I didn’t give a shit.
Were you ever mistaken for gay, perhaps due in part to your longtime love of musical theater?
Oh God, yeah. Big deal.
Did that ever cramp your style romantically?
No. If anything, it would’ve helped. Hot chicks love gay guys.
What inspired Family Guy’s season 4 gay marriage episode “You May Now Kiss the…Uh…Guy Who Receives,” in which Brian’s flamboyant cousin Jasper visits with his Filipino boyfriend?
A couple of years prior I had teamed up to write a pilot with two writers, both of whom were gay. One of them said that when he travels through the Midwest with his partner they have to go through this fucking dog and pony act when they stop at a hotel and the guy behind the counter says, “You want one room or two?” They have this charade where they’ll say to each other, “Is one room OK with you?” “Yeah, I’m cool with that if you are.” “Yeah, no big deal, we’ll just take one.” That was one of many conversations I had with them where I thought to myself, Why is it that Johnny Spaghetti Stain in fucking Georgia can knock a woman up, legally be married to her, and then beat the shit out of her, but these two intelligent, sophisticated writers who have been together for 20 years can’t get married? It’s infuriating and idiotic. I’m incredibly passionate about my support for the gay community and what they’re dealing with at this current point in time. I have arguments with people where I get red in the face, screaming at the top of my lungs.
According to DVD commentary, [your “standards and practices” legal department] had you say that an antigay propaganda video shown in the episode was made by “Pat Robertson Industries” to ensure that Fox wouldn’t be called homophobic. Are they always so paranoid when it comes to gay issues?
It just depends. Religion is a lot more sensitive on a weekly basis to standards and practices than anything, which pisses me off. I was surprised that we were forced to add that Pat Robertson thing, because you had this unbelievably radical antigay film — obviously it was something we were making fun of. I thought, Aren’t people smart enough to know better?
The Parents Television Council voted the episode, along with many others, “Worst TV Show of the Week.” Do you appreciate that honor?
Oh, yeah. That’s like getting hate mail from Hitler. They’re literally terrible human beings. I’ve read their newsletter, I’ve visited their website, and they’re just rotten to the core. For an organization that prides itself on Christian values — I mean, I’m an atheist, so what do I know? — they spend their entire day hating people. They can all suck my dick as far as I’m concerned.
Using the news anchor couple Greg and Terry, you’ve also tackled LGBT issues on American Dad, most recently in the adoption episode “Surro-Gate.” Do you think you’re influencing viewer opinion?
I certainly hope that we’re doing a small part to advance progress in that area. But there are some bits that we do on Family Guy and American Dad that are just pure comedy which I hope are not influencing people.