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The Real O'Neals' Cancellation Is a Real Loss for Gay Visibility

The Real O'Neals

The Real O'Neals is really canceled.

ABC announced Thursday that the comedy loosely inspired by the life of gay activist Dan Savage will not be renewed for a third season, due to low ratings.

The show was sparked by a gay teen, Kenny (Noah Galvin), coming out to his Irish Catholic family, played by Martha Plimpton, Jay. R Ferguson, Matt Shively, and Bebe Wood. 

[RELATED: "When We Fall in Ratings, We Fail Our Movement"]

Earlier this year, cast and producers had launched a social media campaign urging ABC to renew the series for a third season. Called "#TheRealReason," the initiative collected responses from fans who were inspired to see the story of a gay youth and issues like bullying present on network television.

The Real O'Neals' cancellation is poor timing in the real world, where a recent spike in abuse of LGBT young people might be eased by the continued airing of the pro-LGBT family comedy. In addition, the show's loss is a loss for visibility, as Galvin was one of the few out actors to play an LGBT role on network television.

"In this political climate it has never been more important to teach people about marginalized communities and show them that the 'other' is not scary," said executive producer Stacy Traub during #TheRealReason campaign. "Being different can be celebrated. Being different can be funny. Being different can help people learn to be different and think differently themselves."

Galvin, who is gay, posted a farewell message on Twitter expressing his appreciation for and love of his time on The Real O'Neals, which he compared to an educational experience like college.

"I loved my job. I will miss it like a lost limb. Phantom pains and all. Thank you Kenny. And thank you Real O'Neals U," the 23-year-old actor wrote.

Previously, rumors about the show's cancellation cropped up during the show's first season — which were exacerbated after Galvin gave a jaw-dropping interview to Vulture that blasted Hollywood's glass closet as well as closeted actors, including Colton Haynes. The show was ultimately given a second season, and the season's first episode had echoes of this real-life incident and the lesson that coming out is a different experience for everyone.

However, Galvin stood by the core message of the Vulture interview in an October conversation with The Advocate — that in order for Hollywood to become a more welcoming place for LGBT actors, it will require closeted Hollywood players to reexamine their priorities. And coming out is part of what needs to be done in order for things to get better.

“It’s gonna take actors and industry professionals to do the thing they don’t want to do, and rip off that band-aid, and come out of the closet, so that it becomes — I don’t like the word normalizing —  so that it shows other people that it’s not so scary. We can’t think of our careers before our livelihood,” he said. “Though it may limit you for a small time in your career, it shouldn’t overshadow the idea of being a happy, healthy person.”

Galvin also stressed that mainstream Hollywood also has an obligation to its LGBT talent.

“I would like to see casting directors and network execs … welcome us all with open arms and not be so limited in their views on homosexuality and a thousand different things that could scare people,” he concluded.

RIP, Real O'Neals. Revisit The Advocate's interview with the Real O'Neals star below.

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