On “Glee” this spring, a transgender character named Unique is competing in a sing-off. On “Grey’s Anatomy,” Arizona and Callie are adjusting to married life, having been pronounced “wife and wife” last year.
On “Modern Family,” the nation’s most popular television show, Cameron and his partner Mitchell are trying to adopt a second child.
What’s missing? The outrage.
The cultural battlefield of television has changed markedly since the 1990s, when conservative groups and religious figures objected to Ellen DeGeneres coming out and “Will & Grace” coming on.
Today, it’s rare to hear a complaint about shows like “Modern Family” or the drama “Smash,” which has five openly gay characters, or the sitcom “Happy Endings,” which, against stereotype, has a husky and lazy gay male character.
Next week in New York the major networks will announce a slate of new shows, including a sitcom on NBC that features a gay couple and their surrogate. The title: “The New Normal.”
At a time when gay rights are re-emerging as an election year issue — in part because of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s stated support for gay marriage on Sunday — activists and academics say that depictions of gay characters on television play a big role in making viewers more comfortable with their gay, lesbian and transgender neighbors.