BY Michael Fairman

October 19 2009 1:30 PM ET

SOAPSIDE 1019 David Fumero X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

The recent firing and exit of Patricia Mauceri (Ex-Carlotta, Cristian’s mom), which sprouted from her refusal to play a small plot point in the gay story line, was in Tika’s work orbit. The actress was on set the day, when shockingly, Patricia’s replacement, Saundra Santiago, reported for work.

“I was there, and somebody new just showed up in the role of Carlotta and I was like. What happened? I obviously then found out. It’s a sad situation. As actors, we are all going to play things that we are not about. I played a prostitute once. Am I a prostitute? No. Do I want to be a prostitute? No. I played one on Law and Order. As an actor you are given roles and you either play them or you don’t get paid. Angelina Jolie played Gia and she was fierce in it, and so I would play a lesbian any day. You know what I mean? It’s exploration through different people and that is what we are paid to do. Look, every one has their own opinion but that is just how I see it. Listen, back in the '50s African-Americans did not have rights. And every person, if you are gay, straight, or transgender, deserves rights. It’s about equality. Who cares who you are kissing at night?”

Bierdz's Night Out

Thursday night I attended Love Out Loud West’s AIDS Walk L.A. fund-raiser, thrown by POZ magazine. The gathering brought out several soap stars to help support the fight against HIV/AIDS. Y&R’s Thom Bierdz and I chatted about the event and what has happened to Phillip III’s once-promising story.
 
“Here I am, a gay man, 47 years old and I am lucky to be negative, but I have so many friends that are positive," he said. "I know what an ordeal that is and I just want to support it anyway I can. It’s wonderful that the medications are around today and that is good.”
 
But depending on how you look at it, what is not good is a gay character’s lack of upcoming airtime on the number 1 soap, especially since it started with a bang and was greeted with such fanfare, only to fizzle out. Bierdz sets the record straight. “Here is the thing; I know I am on in eight episodes in November and then the truth is, I sort of disappear. My six-month contract is up. And I really want to support the gay community, and I want the gay community to support me. I would like the gay community to write to CBS and say, ‘We want a gay character on the air,’ and I want to be that.”



But what of the rumored romance between Phillip III and Y&R’s only other gay character, young legal eagle Rafe? Bierdz says he thinks he knows why the show may have gotten cold feet.

“I think they got a little cautious about that. I can tell you this, the people directly in charge of me, such as Maria Arena Bell [co-exec prod and head writer, Y&R] are so gay-affirmative and friendly, but I don’t know what their bosses are like… but this is something that needs to be overcome. I am excited and prepped to do a gay romance in daytime. It’s not just about Thom Bierdz, it’s about gay representation. If it’s not me, then it should be somebody else and it’s time that the gay population is represented on Y&R, absolutely.”

However, Bierdz says, even with some disappointments in the storytelling, he really doesn’t feel let down by the Y&R experience. “All of my expectations have been met," he says. "I get tons of letters and support, and I did not expect too much and they did not promise me too much. I am so honored I got a Human Rights Award for Visibility. I had to stand in front of 850 people and give a speech and I am not a guy who likes to be the center of attention. I am a total introvert. I went onstage and they were all pro-equality and pro-gay and these are my people, and this is what registers, and this is what matters to me.”



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