Univision made history this week when it aired a same-sex wedding on the telenovela "Amores Verdaderos" ("True Loves"). It's the first wedding of its kind (the, you know, same-sex kind) to be aired on the network. It was hella dramatic too, featuring lingering looks and straw hats and matching ties and a rotund pug in a tiny suit.
Buuuuut, it's not as if this exists in a vacuum -- a lot had to have happened to get Fusion's Papa network to this moment. So let's look back on some of the many milestone moments in how gays and lesbians have been portrayed on television. (Stay tuned for part II of our Gay Milestone Moments in TV later this week -- there's a lot!)
We may have far to go, but we've come a long way, baby.
First gay person on an American reality show
Filmed in 1971 and first aired in early 1973, PBS' "An American Family"
followed the lives of the Loud family, including eldest son Lance, who came out to his family during the show's run and, thus, became what is widely believed to be the first openly gay "character" on television
, as well as the first gay character on an early example of reality television.
The first continuing portrayal of a gay person on American TV
"The Corner Bar," an ABC sitcom that ran from 1972-1973, featured a character named Peter Panama (played by Vincent Schiavelli) who is notable for being the first recurring gay character on American TV
First gay couple on American network TV
Producer Norman Lear's "Hot l Baltimore," which aired in 1975, featured the first gay couple on American network TV: George (Lee Bergere) and Gordon (Henry Calvert). The cast also included sex workers and an undocumented immigrant, and ran with a disclaimer about its "mature themes."
First gay-themed story arc on American TV
ABC's "Barney Miller," which ran from 1975 - 1982, featured several gay characters. Series creator Danny Arnold worked with the National Gay Task Force (NGTF) to transform these character from broad, rather camp stereotypes to fully-realized people with believable stories and reactions. When one character, Officer Zatelli (Dino Natali)
eventually came out to Barney Miller and to his entire squad, Arnold turned to the NGTF
to help make the story arc ring true.
First gay lead character on prime-time
"Love, Sidney," which aired on NBC from 1981 to 1983, starred Tony Randall as Sidney Shore and was based on a short story about a gay man's relationship to a single mother and her daughter
. Even though Sidney was unequivocally a gay man, his homosexuality was downplayed throughout the series' 40 episodes.
First openly gay character on an American soap opera
In 1982, "All My Children" introduced the world to psychologist Dr. Lynn Carson, the first openly lesbian character
on a daytime soap opera.
First same-sex wedding ceremony on American TV
The first same-sex wedding on American network TV happened in 1991
, on the Fox sitcom "Roc." In the show's first season, the titular character's uncle, played by Richard Roundtree, comes out to his family. The family at first struggles to accept this, but later holds a ceremony for him and his partner at their home.
First lesbian kiss(es) on American TV
In what is believed* to be the very first lesbian kiss on American network television, "L.A. Law" characters C.J. Lamb and Abby Perkins locked lips
in a 1991 episode. Or "smooched," to use another terrible term. (See also: "Canoodled.") It definitely should be noted that the scene kick-started a TV trope -- "the lesbian kiss episode
" -- where a lesbian or bisexual character kisses a female heterosexual character. Which carries its own baggage, of course.
*Actresses Holly Robinson Peete and Katy Boyer had shared a kiss before, in a 1990 episode of "21 Jump Street,"
but this didn't inspire the same level of media attention or scrutiny as the "L.A. Law" kiss.
The boycotted kiss
In May 1994, "Melrose Place" characters Matt and his boyfriend Rob share a kiss by the pool... a kiss audiences didn't fully see because the threat of an advertiser boycott inspired Fox to cut away from the liplock