Big Gay Following: Seth MacFarlane

The Family Guy and American Dad creator discusses funny LGBT stereotypes and outs one of his most popular characters as “almost certainly gay.”

BY Brandon Voss

January 25 2008 12:00 AM ET UPDATED: February 10 2014 3:57 AM ET

Do you have gays on staff with whom to consult on gay content?
One of our broadcast standards people — the censors — is gay, and I’ve had many, many conversations with him about a lot of these issues, making sure that we’re handling it in the right way. We have a few artists who are gay, and actually two of our executive producers are gay — I wonder if I’m allowed to say that in the press. [Laughs] For the first three seasons of Family Guy we had a gay writer who was really instrumental in building the relationship between Brian and Stewie that we kind of take for granted now. That’s something I didn’t really think of when I created the show, but it emerged in the writers’ room, particularly out of the pen of this one writer who really had a knack for those characters and opened the door for us to explore that facet of Stewie’s personality.

In American Dad’s season 2 Log Cabin Republicans episode “Lincoln Lover,” Stan makes a statement that “Gays are the new blacks.” Do you think that’s true?
That’s a joke line, but in some ways, yes — to a less intense extent. You’re not dealing with things like segregated drinking fountains, but the fundamental civil rights issues are the same. I get particularly angry when I hear a black pundit speaking out against the gays. My thought is, Well, wait a minute, you fucker. You got yours and you’re denying them theirs? You of all people should understand what they’re going through. It just burns my blood.

Did your recent donation to Barack Obama’s campaign have anything to do with his stance on gay issues?
It’s funny, but lately I’m leaning more toward [John] Edwards.

What? Aren’t you concerned about pissing off Oprah?
I think I can handle that. Hey, a man can change his mind. It’s interesting that flip-flopping is considered a negative thing in politics. I’ve never understood that. I take the Bill Maher point of view: Give me the guy who can change his mind when presented with new information.

In the gay world, flip-flopping is considered a positive.
[Laughs] Well, there ya go.

How do you feel about the young straight community’s cavalier use of the word “gay” to describe stupidity or weakness?
I’ve used that term, but it’s like a homonym — no pun intended. Like the word “fag” is a derogatory term but also a British cigarette. There’s that whole George Carlin routine where he talks about the word “nigger.” He says that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that word — it’s the racist asshole using it that you gotta be worried about. Unless they’re hiding it well, there’s nobody on our staff who’s bigoted or homophobic. We’re all very progressive, and as a result we feel comfortable making jokes. We know what our own beliefs are, so no matter what we do it can’t possibly come from a negative place.

You’ve called Fox’s decision to air unfinished Family Guy episodes without your final approval during the writers’ strike “a colossal dick move.” How will you heal from that?
Ultimately there will have to be some sort of reconciliation. When the strike is over we have to dry the tears pretty quickly and get back to work. It’s not like I’m going to be turning my nose in the air when I pass one of the bigwigs in the hall. Nothing’s to be gained from that. But the longer it goes on the more I perceive it as a handful of very rich well-dressed white men not wanting to give up a few hours on their private jets. The people at the top of the financial food chain have to give up a little bit — and by a little bit I mean a little bit.

What can we expect from the as yet unscheduled episode titled “Family Gay”?
That has to do with Peter being injected with the gay gene as part of a scientific experiment to determine whether or not it’s a learned trait or something that you’re born with. The good news is that at the end of the episode we establish that it’s the latter. Basically, Peter’s in a gay relationship for an episode and winds up in one of those straight camps.

If you inexplicably woke up gay tomorrow, what would be your first order of business?
I would seek out Justin Timberlake and get him to admit it.

If a house party full of America’s gay celebrities literally burst into flames, which one would you run in to save first?
John Travolta. But if he’s not there for some reason, how about David Hyde Pierce? I’m acquainted with him and he’s a good man. And if we ever did a Family Guy Broadway musical, we would need him to play Stewie.

Tags: television

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