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Lesleyann Coker Headshot

What's Wrong With Gay Sex?

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Is ABC homophobic?

If recent events are any indication, the network is struggling to define its boundaries for gay sexuality.

After Adam Lambert's bi-sexually charged closing performance at the American Music Awards in November, ABC responded by canceling the singer's scheduled appearance on Good Morning America, and banning him from appearing on late night fests Jimmy Kimmel and Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve.

There's a clear double standard at play.

Janet Jackson - already notorious for her Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction - opened the AMA's with multiple crotch grabs, yet ABC didn't ban her from other programs. The network didn't bat an eyelash after Rihanna began her AMA performance strapped to a torture device, and pranced half naked in a white bondage suit featuring alternating latex strips and skin, and a collar of bullets. Why was Lambert singled out?

It's worth noting that while Lambert simulated sex acts with both men and women during his routine, only the homosexual acts drew ire.

ABC's reaction to Lambert's sexual norms-tweaking performance was typical for a network known for inconsistent enforcement of its infamous, self-imposed morality clause.

ABC has a bad habit of taking one step toward equality, then taking two steps back. Last February, ABC daytime broadcast the highly touted, first lesbian wedding for a soap opera couple on All My Children. Although the network allowed the women to kiss, it never allowed them to enjoy a proper love scene, even on their wedding night.

Instead, the lame sub-plot centered around one of the women fighting her attraction to a man, and kissing him the night before her wedding in a state of "confusion." Was this meant to imply the character really wasn't a lesbian, or to give hope she could be "cured" of her homosexual affliction?

On December 30th, almost a year after its sexless lesbian fiasco, ABC tried to throw the gay community a bone when One Life to Live aired daytime's first ever sex scene between two men. To ABC's credit, the scene was presented the same as any other soap opera couple making love for the first time. It included candles, soft music, loving close ups, and of course, some skin. There was even spooning afterward. What's the problem?

No advance publicity.

In soap opera land, when a popular couple "makes love" for the first time, it's cause for celebration. The shows orchestrate publicity campaigns weeks in advance with teaser feature stories in soap magazines and blogs. TV Guide and TiVo highlight the event in their show summaries. The publicity generates anticipation among loyal fans and helps draw new viewers to the show.

For this momentous occasion on OLTL, all was silent. There wasn't any magazine coverage, no blogosphere buzz, no TV listings, no mainstream promotion of any kind. The network ignored the chance to capitalize on one of the most important events in the history of daytime - as well as a milestone for the gay community. Were the publicists on vacation for the months of November and December?

ABC squandered a golden opportunity to take a stand on an important civil rights issue. They should have proudly advertised their plan to showcase a tender love scene between two consenting adults in a monogamous relationship, and not try to slip it under the radar on the last soap opera day of the year. If they feared certain groups would call for a boycott, ratings could have benefited.

It's cynical to think a two minute scene would have created a controversy at all, but it's also cynical to shy away because of the possibility. However, ABC isn't the only offender. In the fall of 2009, Procter and Gamble, the owner of CBS' Guiding Light, refused to allow popular lesbian characters Olivia and Natalia to share a single kiss as a couple, fearing it would spark a middle American consumer backlash.

At least ABC had the balls to broadcast the same sex sex-scene, but what good does it do if no one knows what day it's on? If a tree falls in the forest does anyone hear?

Share your thoughts below. Should gay sexuality be treated differently than heterosexuality on television?