Coming Out With Some Help From The Simpsons

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com July 05 2013 6:33 PM ET

If you’re an out and proud gay man, you may just owe some thanks to America’s favorite yellow-hued, blue-collar family.

A scholarly study coming out as in a book in Germany finds evidence that The Simpsons “has helped to enable gay men to come out, because of they way it sympathetically portrays homosexuality,” reports the U.K.’s Pink News.

For Behind the Gay Jokes: Homosexuality in ‘The Simpsons,’ to be published next week in Germany, Cologne-based academic librarian Erwin In het Panhuis studied 500 gay-themed scenes and 70 LGBT characters from the long-running animated series. He writes that the show “treats homosexuality as something normal in a media environment which can usually be very hostile to the point of view.”

He discusses Homer Simpson’s many same-sex kisses, the relationship between tycoon C. Montgomery Burns and his gay assistant Smithers, an episode devoted to same-sex marriage, and many other aspects of the series. And while his analysis focuses primarily on portrayals of gay men, he does note other parts of the LGBT spectrum that have been treated sympathetically on the series, such as the depiction of Marge Simpson’s lesbian sister, Patty Bouvier.

Series creator Matt Groening has long been an ally of LGBT people, sending positive messages not only through The Simpsons but in his long-running, recently ended comic strip, “Life in Hell.”