Study: The Simpsons Changed The Way Society Views Homosexuality
A lot of "thank you" edible bouquets were sent to Television last week after the monumental Supreme Court rulings in favor of marriage equality. Most gushes were doled out to rainbow flag-waving series like Will & Grace and Queer As Folk, but a new study out of Germany claims that it might be The Simpsons that deserves most of the credit for updating mainstream views on homosexuality.
German academic Erwin In het Panhuis' new book, Behind the Gay Jokes- Homosexuality in The Simpsons, contains a study conducted by spending several years analyzing nearly 500 scenes. Distilling decades-worth of gay mentions broadcasted on the celebrated animated show, Panhuis arrives at his hypothesis: The Simpsons has "trailblazed" the way for acceptance of same-sex couples. "[The Simpsons] treats homosexuality as something normal in a media environment which can usually be very hostile to the point of view,"Panhuis writes in the study.
Homer, specifically and, perhaps, surprisingly, has marched the most for LGBT acceptance on the show, Panhuis adds. “Homer has kissed other men on the lips more than 50 times throughout the series but despite that he’s happily married to his wife," he said. “He is sometimes heterosexual, sometimes gay and sometimes homophobic."
Though a few cringe-inducing scenes from the show's early years (the stereotypical lisping, limp-wristed gays drawn into the infamous "Gay Steel Mill" scene, for example) still leave a bad taste in my mouth, without doubt, the series' (and Homer's) inclusive evolution over the past two decades has had a tangible effect on my family and friends who I often spend Sunday nights watching with, and has paralleled if not sparked the evolutionary path of mainstream America.