Nearly 26 years after it went off the air, “The Golden Girls” is remembered for its one-liners, ’80s fashion duds and, of course, cheesecake indulgences.
What many fans forget, however, is that the series had a remarkably progressive outlook on LGBTQ rights for its time, with nods to the AIDS crisis, coming out and even same-sex marriage.
In the first installment of his new “Culture Cruise” series, Seattle-based writer Matt Baume breaks down two of the show’s most forward-thinking episodes, 1988′s “Scared Straight” and 1991′s “Sister of the Bride.” Both episodes featured Clayton Hollingsworth (played by Monte Markham), the gay “baby brother” of Blanche (Rue McClanahan). Clayton not only opened up about his sexuality on the show, but also announced his plans to marry his boyfriend.
Baume told HuffPost that, together, the two episodes “did something amazing.”
“Not only did they teach America how to be a friend to gay people, they also introduced millions of viewers to topics like coming out and gay marriage while also slipping in a message of queer empowerment,” he said. “Over the course of these two episodes, we have a household of little old ladies helping a man come out, then welcoming him and his husband, and then promising to work on acceptance in the future.”
Americans who oppose LGBTQ rights, he added, would be well-served by taking a few cues from Dorothy, Blanche, Sophia and Rose.
“Although even today there’s still a long way to go, ‘The Golden Girls’ provided a roadmap toward acceptance,” he said. “If these girls could do it, so can America.”