Waymon Hudson

Ugly Betty: Young Gay Love

Filed By Waymon Hudson | November 22, 2008 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living, Marriage Equality, Media, The Movement
Tags: Justin Suarez, LGBT youth, television, Ugly Betty

Everyone knows by now that I am a television junkie. One of my favorite, and probably the gayest show on TV (sorry Project Runway), is Ugly Betty.

uglybetty.jpgWhile it is based on the over the top telenovela style of shows, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, it has also been great about giving visibility to LGBT community. From transgender issues to marriage, the show hasn't really shied away from anything queer.

This is especially true with the character of Betty's teenage nephew, Justin. Justin is an effeminate, musical-loving, fashion designing, tap dancing, kid- something I'm not sure I've seen before on a network TV show. Heck, he's like a mini-me from my teenage years (but without my small-town angst). Over the past few weeks, they have been slowly developing a side story where Justin seems to be about to break another barrier- by getting a boyfriend.

I will admit it has made me nervous to watch. Not because I was afraid of what the writers might do or that it might be offensive, but nervous because it was so true to life and struck a chord.

Justin, who is secure and happy with who he is in all his fabulousity, ends up befriending a rough and tumble jock from school when they discover they both like musicals at an audition. They have slowly gotten closer and become friends, even going on an outing to go see "Little Shop of Horrors" together.

It was also great to see his mother supporting him and the burgeoning romance, even buying him a pair of tickets to a Broadway show so he could take his new interest. That has been the other beauty of the show, Justin's family embraces who he is, supporting him all the way. The show has built a support group for him- from Mark, Betty's gay coworker who talked to Justin about being different and "swishy" to his immediate family who has encouraged him to be himself.

What also struck me was this week's episode, where Justin's potential suitor gets teased by his jock friends and ends up cruelly and publicly telling Justin to leave him alone. It's something many of us (and many youth today) can relate to.

The part that gives me hope was the aftermath, where his mother sits him down and tells him that he is perfect the way he is and to never let anyone make him feel bad about it. It was a moving TV moment that will resonate with LGBTQ youth who go through the same thing every day.

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I second all that. Thus far, the "UB" writers and producers have done a great job. Let's just hope ABC doesn't get cold feet, as they did with "Grey's Anatomy," and suddenly turn the kid into a hetero jock.

Oh, and I wish they'd find more opportunities for Justin to sing and dance. The kid has talent!

I know! he's great! Lst year's season finale of him singing as he dad died was amazing!

I missed Ugly Betty Thursday night, but got to see it on line this morning. I was on the verge of tears when Justin's friend told him to go away. I felt Justin's pain. I also cheered when Betty gave Mark the YETI envelope, and when Daniel gave her her envelope. But, I want to see Justin be happy.

I loved this episode too, Mon! I really hope they move forwar with Justin's storyline and he ends up happy in the end!

And can I just say how much I adore Mark? He is so one of my favs!

I just caught this, after a long day of catching up on my DVR. I LOVED this episode. As soon as someone said something this episode I was hoping that they would just go to the show... but no...

BTW - I live near Schenecatdy (Where Mark is supposedly from) and it's not as anti-gay as it's made out to be


Good to hear about Schenecatdy, Lucy. :)

You mean Patti Lupone (who played Mark's homophobic mom) doesn't chew her way through Schenecatdy's scenery like she did on UB? LOL

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 22, 2008 9:47 PM

I also see that on Gossip Girl Serena's little gay brother Eric now has a boyfriend. Of course, Eric also seems to disappear for episodes on end. But, he is open about being gay to everyone.

Here's to the new crop of televised militant twinks!

I don't watch Gossip Girl, but maybe I'll start. I'm a sucker for gay storylines...

"Televised Militant Twinks"?? LOL- I think I found the name of my new reality show that I'll host. :)

I second all that. Thus far, the "UB" writers and producers have done a great job. Let's just hope ABC doesn't get cold feet, as they did with "Grey's Anatomy," and suddenly turn the kid into a hetero jock.

You mean like they've gotten cold feet with Rebecca Romijn's transgender character Alexis?

I'm not sure they've gotten cold feet on her character, Monica. Romijn's pregant with twins in real life, which is why they temporarily wrote her off (rumor is she'll be back and as fab as ever after she has her babies).

Remember that trend-setting ABC series "My So-Called Life?" Back in the mid 90s? Its cast of characters included a kid very much like Justin. His name was Rickie, and he was played by Wilson Cruz, He was the sidekick of Angela, played by Claire Danes.

The series also was one of Jared Leto's first roles. The show was courageous about showing the reality of high school, instead of the frothy "Happy Days" treatment.

Good call, Patricia! I used to love that show (and I remember the uproar around Rickie at the time). I think that show was one of the best depictions of high school life ever.

I never knew Ugly Betty was so gay. This episode sounds like a must see. An openly gay teen with parents who fully support his existence is certainly a timely message America needs to digest.

I agree, Taylor. and Hilda's speech (Justin's mom) was perfect. It is what every LGBTQ kid should hear when they encounter discrimination...

It's a great show, I love it! I agree with the person that mentioned Grey's Anatomy, and hope Ugly Betty doesn't get cold feet, or get hammered by the right to change the storylines... Whatever happened to the sudden end of the Grey's Anatomy budding lesbian relationship? Could it have been anymore sudden?

I can't relate to Justin's story, but I do feel for him, and those like him, and love how she encouraged him to be him, and to not let anyone change him... I was touched, and encouraged for what it was saying... whereas SYTYCD tries to tell the guys how they're supposed to act, god forbid if they don't "act like a man."

'Brothers and Sisters' also has a good storyline with the gay brother and his gay marriage this last season... I like how they're hot guys, and not just some stereotype, with both, moreso the brother, pretty much hetero acting (to show that were not all just one stereotype)... after Grey's Anatomy I was afraid they were going to ax that storyline as well, which it seemed they did for 2-3 weeks, but then brought it back this past week, which I was glad to see... just showing them as any other couple with issues just like the rest of us, and of course the true love between them, part of a large family, of both democrats and republicans, all accepting one another as most families do, with none of the lifestyles hurting the other... Sally Field is great on the show...

But I digress...

ANYWHO, I hope Ugly Betty keeps it up!! With both Justin and Marc's storylines... although Marc's gay marriage seems to be off for the moment (hopefully that's just part of the developing storyline, and not a Grey's Aantomy ax).

Larry, I don't think Mark's wedding is off for good. They brought Cliff back this season, which was a great move. And that story line coincided with all the Prop 8 protests. Don't forget the UB cast did one of the only "No o 8" ads that aired in Spanish. I don't think UB is shying away from controversy. I just think the writers want to drag out the drama, in true telenovella style.

Girlfriend, you know I hearts UB, and not just because a curvey girl is finally getting some play on TV. Oh, did you hear the gossip that Nikki Blonskey of Hairspray will be getting an UB cameo this season? Even after she and America Ferrera apparently duked it out in an airport!

LOVED this episode. I totally wanted to give Justin a hug and be his hag for life. I agree . . . boy needs more singing and dancing spots. The kid has talent!

And didn't you love that Betty and Mark put aside their differences and talked about how they would be huge? Loving it!

I LOVVVED UGLY BETTY! That was GREAT episode! I love Justin..he is a DIVA and then some! I'm glad his family supports him because he needs it.