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Are lesbians a dying breed? This year on The L Word, there was a disturbing trend that's emblematic of a much wider problem. Don't get me wrong--I've been watching The L Word loyally for all three seasons, and up until recently I've appreciated many things about the show. Particularly in season 1--the characters were so well drawn; I cared about them and the story lines. They were funny and irreverent. Not to mention that I was infinitely grateful such a program--all about lesbians, made by lesbians, looking at the world from our perspective--existed at all. And yet right now I'm wondering (and I know I'm not alone here): What's going on? With few exceptions--for example, when Rose Troche writes and directs--I turn off the TV each week, and my partner and I rant and rave in great distress.

Where have all the lesbians gone? Gone to men now, (almost) every one. We have Tina, going back to men after eight years with Bette. We have Alice, sometimes with men, sometimes not. We have Jenny, who left her abusive fiance for the very hot Marina (who turned out to be married to a man!), still unable to say she's a lesbian. And now to top it off, Jenny is with a woman, Max, who wants to become a man and who seems to be as abusive as Jenny's ex-fiance. Continuing with the trend, Max also sleeps with a man.

I am not, by the way, antibisexual. But when half the characters in the only lesbian show on television are not lesbians, you've got to wonder. It is called The L Word, after all.

Lest anyone think I'm being unreasonably critical, why not look at Queer as Folk for some perspective? For all the controversy QAF garnered, there are certain things for which the makers of that show cannot be faulted. Not one of its main gay male characters ever slept with a woman. The show was about gay men and remained true to this premise. (The QAF producers could have portrayed bisexual men, clearly a reality in the gay world. Instead, they chose to use their limited airtime exclusively for gay story lines.) Nor were any of the main characters killed off--not by drug overdose, AIDS, or cancer. On The L Word, by contrast, one of the main characters who actually was a lesbian--having only lesbian sex, I might add--died of breast cancer. To be fair, breast cancer is a serious problem affecting one in nine women, and the show's creators wanted to make a political impact, which I applaud. The L Word has also been better in portraying diversity than Queer as Folk ever was. In fact, QAF was weakest in its treatment of--you guessed it--lesbians, who were often quite stereotyped (assuming caretaking roles with the men, interested only in babies). One of the two QAF lesbians also went back to men for a while.

But that was a show for the boys. Is The L Word for the girls? Or is it also for the boys--the straight ones? I wouldn't care so much if there were more in the media for us. Xena's gone, Buffy's gone. And the Oscars have come and gone too: Three gay movies, no lesbians. Is it internal chaos that keeps us out of the limelight? Or are lesbians still not marketable? If the former, let's work out our issues and fight for visibility. If the latter, ditto!

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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