It’s 2018 and Home and Away has announced it’s set to introduce a gay character into the long-running soap.
I mean, sure, Australia has a fairly shithouse track record of gay representation on our screens (especially our commercial TV stations) and wider inclusion of LGBTIQ people and identities is a GOOD thing, however I still can’t muster up anything above a sarcastic “cool” in response to the news.
Home & Away Daddy himself Ray Meagher (aka flamin’ bloody Alf) dropped the news that a new queer was on his way to Summer Bay, saying that the writers “do try to keep abreast with the times, so there is an interesting character coming in.”
Huge congratulations to the Home & Away writers for being “abreast with the times” and finally discovering gay people exist!
Pretty sure the Australian TV show Number 96 featured a gay character in 1972 but go off, I guess.
Home & Away so far has had a total of two gay characters in its 30-year-long run (one who lasted four episodes and one who “went straight” again) whereas rival soap Neighbours has had a slightly better run with the gays, despite their most recent queer character being portrayed by a bit of a deadshit hetero.
What I’m trying to say is simply announcing an upcoming queer character in your TV show is not praise-worthy in 2018, especially considering commercial Aussie TV’s history. The bar is, quite simply, set much much higher than that these days, thanks in part to a huge increase in not just LGBTIQ representation on our screens but more and more fully-developed, authentic potrayals of wide-ranging queer identities.
We don’t need tokenistic gestures without substance from a show with a chequered past when it comes to diversity and inclusion, in a ticking-the-box, post-marriage equality cashgrab. What we need are realistic rainbow characters that properly reflect Australia’s myriad queer community.
Do that Home & Away, and we’ll talk.
More Stuff From PEDESTRIAN.TV
Image: Channel 7