For TV, 30 Years of Queers       

At Los Angeles's Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a group of writers, producers, and actors discussed the changing representation of LGBT people on TV 

BY Neal Broverman

May 29 2008 11:00 PM ET

Who was the first queer character you saw on TV?

That's a heady question for many LGBT people because it probably coincided with a heavy weight being lifted off your shoulders; I'm not alone!

Over the past three decades or so, queer representation on TV has been minimal and mocking at best (as opposed to the early years of TV, when we were completely nonexistent). Much has improved since Billy Crystal broke the mold with his portrayal of a young gay man on the '70s sitcom Soap -- but there's a long way to go.

This was all addressed at Thursday's "LGBT: Above and Below the Line in Prime" event, sponsored by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at its theatre in North Hollywood. Moderated by Bruce Vilanch -- wearing a red T-shirt that featured Fred Phelps holding two signs, "God Dates Fags" and "Everybody on the Dancefloor" -- the comedian opened the show with an announcement that he just had knee surgery after falling -- off a very tall man.

CANDACE CAYNE (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMPanelist Candace Cayne

Following a rousing speech by GLAAD's Neil Giuliano, Vilanch introduced an enormous and impressive panel of TV talent, including Brothers & Sisters writer David Marshall Grant, DL Chronicles creators Quincy LeNear and Deondray Gossett, here! executive Meredith Kadlec, transgender actresses Candace Cayne and Alexandra Billings, lesbian actress Amanda Bearse, and Billy Crystal.

Tags: Media

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