Will & Grace Saves the Day?

May 7, 2012
Category: Politics

While the President's thoughts on gay marriage are still "evolving," we just got one huge endorsement from Vice President Biden. Over the weekend, Joe Biden expressed his support for same sex marriage, the highest-ranking White House official to do so, on NBC's Meet the Press. And while he cited real life gay couples and families as an influencing factor, he used Will & Grace as a touchpoint claiming the show “probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far.”

How incredible that a show which premiered in 1998 and ended in 2006 is still making an impact on our lives today. Surprisingly, the show can still be counted on for laughs upon repeated viewing and if anything, it's the shows portrayal of gay men that may seem a little dated. I'd like to think there's bit more diversity in how we're represented in the media today, and we have shows like Will & Grace to thank for that. Whether you saw yourself in the characters or not, they helped open up people's minds which allowed many of us to feel more comfortable being out and proud.

Did Will & Grace have an impact on your gay life? If not, what show or movie helped you come to terms with your sexuality?

Tags: Gay Marriage, Politics, obama, Joe Biden, Will & Grace
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Post written by RobHeartsDH (View Author Profile)
About this author: Rob lives in Manhattan with his black pug Riley. When he’s not thinking about daddies, he enjoys writing, eating burritos, watching copious amounts of television, and thinking about his next meal.
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Will and Grace didn't impact me personally, but I'm sure it's helped some people. I had lived in San Francisco since the early '70s and it is so VERY gay friendly the show neither helped nor hindered anyone already living there, although any show that isn't slapstick should enlighten others to some degree, especially a show about minorities, whatever their oppression (gay, handicapped, Islamic, etc).

I'd been out to my parents since I was 12 back in 1963, when nobody even knew what homosexuality was. I was, I now realize, a bit ahead of my time. I can't say that ANY show helped me come to terms with my sexuality, since, as a gay BLACK man, I still had to battle bigotry in the gay community even while I was dealing with bigotry in the white community. My sexuality was less an issue with me than my being Black, and once I had dealt with that, I understood the nature of others' ability to hate, and that made being gay easier. I'd been thru one war (civil rights), so when the second war (and it IS a war) for gay rights appeared, I already knew what the gay community (mainly white) didn't: that it was going to be a hard, painful and LONG struggle. Being Black actually helped. I do think Brokeback Mountain helped many, many White gays and brought an understanding to mainstream America (and white straight males, the LEAST sympathetic group towards other men who are gay) and helped people understand the struggle of gay. To date, it's the only mainstream major movie to date that was a big hit, so it reached a hell of a lot of people. That always helps gays' awareness of themselves, although it doesn't always necessarily help them accept themselves.

Movies that address Black gays, except for the recent the recent film by a Black lesbian filmmaker about being gay and living in the Black community is receiving accolades. I haven't seen it, and at 61, my sexuality is so open that it's a given that I will refer to "my late husband" no matter how straight the crowd is.

maybe you should address tyler perry about black gay representation? he seems to have skipped over it in every project he's done.

I think what Husky is saying is that in communities which are both gay AND black, or gay AND Native American, or gay AND any other traditionally overlooked/discriminated-against minority, a white upper-middle-class professional gay man like the Will character neither serves as much of a role model nor particularly enlightens the straight people among them.

That's a reasonable perspective to have. Just as there are divisions in society between gay and straight (though those are gradually crumbling), there are divisions within the gay community between men and women, whites and non-whites, older and younger, and so forth. Many white gay men frequently forget that while their sexual orientation is the primary thing dividing them from society at large, for other minorities sexual orientation may play second fiddle to race, ethnicity, or whatever in terms of making them feel excluded.

Many white gay men live with the luxury that their sexual orientation is the primary thing dividing them from society at large. And that distinction, as you note, is crumbling or has already crumbled.

To be a white man --of any sexual orientation--born in the late 20th or early 21st century-- is to be uncommonly and unfairly blessed with incredible advantages.

So: Those of us who are white and male --and undeservedly blessed-- are obliged to fight, with our dollars and our voices and our votes, for those of us who have not enjoyed this particular birthright. And this is the deal boys: Your vote counts more than your voice and your dollars count more than your vote. Scream. Vote. Donate.

I have always believed that the day Homosexuality becomes an irrelevant issue to the Republicans then the Democrat party will lose 80% of its gay following.

Are you saying that the issues Democrats have as core beliefs: women's rights (reproductive rights, equality in pay, et al), the power of unions to make the working/middle class stronger, social security, Medicare, and other safety nets are only important to 20% of gay people? You couldn't be more wrong.

That doesn't make any sense, sixclaws.

Will and Grace had about as much impact on my life as Liberace did. Or Amos and Andy. Or Tonto or a stereotypical Jewish man who is like a Steppin Fetchit to his own people. In care you don't understand, I'm a Gay, Black, Jewish, Native American.

again, this is not a race issue. sexual orientation! get it?

Will and Grace started as an amazing and amazingly funny show with the kind of humor very few other shows attempted then the people behind it quickly believed their own hype and started writing exclusively for what they thought was their audience which based on how the humor on it devolved rapidly after season 3 or so, must have been made entirely out of tacky drag queens. What started off as a unique show became nothing short of constant obnoxious bitch fest and a Love Boat for the 90's (I mean Demi Moore and Madonna as guest stars... really? There was basically a celebrity guest star every week on that show at some point)

I understand writing for your audience and W&G's ratings were carried by gay men and the women who love them but to target the lowest common denominator within that audience is both tacky and unfortunate.

It is a really sad but mostly true adage that gay men who do create a lot of amazing stories in entertainment when it comes to heterosexual stories tend to write the worst of the worst of trash when it comes to telling stories that relate directly to our own lives. Gay movies in America suck for a reason. I know that only one of the guys who created W&G was gay and a lot of the writers were women but the humor that the show used for most of it's tenure was the kind of crap drunk drag queens commit themselves to on and off stage in dive bars across America every night of the week. Talk about a pedestrian fall from grace.

I saw Boys in the Band, off Broadway in late 1968 (yes, long time ago) and realized then that there would be a long struggle for gay guys to find acceptance not only among themselves but also in the wider world. Really a grim message. At least Will and Grace made us laugh.

In my case it was neither a movie or television program, it was the book, "The Front Runner" that changed everything for me.

Paul Newman tried to get the book made into a film, with him as the coach. Would have turned America gay, seeing him kiss a dude. Sad it's never been filmed.

I love Will & Grace for the sole reason that before that show, every time I saw a gay character on American TV and Film, it had to be a lisping, over the top fairy. MTV is still guilty of enforcing that stereotype many times over wether fictional or not.

It was books, not television or movies, that told me,"Hey, you're not alone." Nevertheless,I applaud Will and Grace for making gays more visible to the couch potato masses. (I didn't say more acceptable, I said more visible.) Were I to choose a movie that might've had some personal influence, it may have been The Naked Civil Servant, because here was a guy (Quentin Crisp) who defied convention, was flamboyant as hell, got bullied and beat up a lot, and then became famous... for being himself! He might've been the most memorable, nelly queen England ever had, but he had courage and balls of steel. That said more to me than t.v. shows inwhich gay characters are watered down to the point of being insipid Paul Lynde lite so that audiences won't get their feathers ruffled and will buy the products so incessantly advertised.

I was pleased that when someone straight I knew without prompting or setting them up, would make in the 1990s and early 200s, a positive and good comment about the show or some aspect of it, Sometimes it would be about Karen or something else they found funny pertaining to a character or situation.

What I liked was that the comments were easy, natural and could have been passed along easily without any up front qualification that this was a GAY show. It was like Will, Grace, Karen, Jack, Rosario, Zandra, were off the wall yet endearing, interesting people, first.

Liked also that some straight people I knew at the time the show ran and was popular liked it because these were funny people in funny and real situations, and they weren't being either judgmental or condescending about anything they were enjoying. I think that the show followed "Friends" just seemed like a natural thread, a progression of a good lineup of TV entertainment.

I think for many men the internet has had the greatest impact. Many of us who grew up having feelings for men from as early as we can remember, having also had questions about why we felt different, self doubt about ourselves, inferiority complex. The internet has allowed us to see handsome hairy men who have the same feelings as us and allowed us to feel much better about ourselves and our sexuality. Some groups such as closetshutm2m provides us with a forum to discuss or just listen to others that have similar feelings and obstacles in their daily lives which makes us feel normal and not alone in our feelings; just my thoughts on the subject.

Jeffrey did it for me! I saw that movie with two girls and a gay friend who was closeted at the time like me. My heart froze when they shared their first kiss at the gym. Afterwards, I volunteered to return the movie and, instead, raced home to make a copy. Watched it six times that first week. I still think about it when it comes to self-acceptance and choices in life.

Will and Grace brought into American households, week after week, gay people who were human. Young people (and some older, open-minded ones) saw that gay people were just like them (maybe funnier, it was a sitcom) and not three-headed monsters the right wing was portraying us to be. In our culture, this show was seismic in helping to change thinking about gay people. Because we laughed, it was easier to get the message.


TV characters like on Will and Grace were their own stereotype to a certain extent since there is a huge number of gays who do not go to coffee shops or get into that Hollywood fashion or using a social lingo that most mainstream folks never use. Queer as folk wasn't representative of many real life situations but its great drama where the jokes are gone over by a team of writers and then the actors dont quite look or sound the same in person but it is great talented writing and media entertainment for sure. If TV was too much like real life then there would be no reason to watch true reality TV like stuff that amounts to security cam footage of an apartment building and camera footage from traffic helicopters where most people are not in perpetual dress rehearsal even as social clicks do tend to form many versions of "spanky and the gang" with behavior and wardrobe commonalities that make you kewl in one social gang and an outcast in another which is the nature of the human beastie for sure.

Will and Grace Was and is one funny show. Were there stereotypes? Hell yeah. Did it show one of the most positive views of homosexuality in the modern age? yes. Did I see any part of myself or life in it. - Perhaps I am a little bit of Will and a little bit of Jack. Yes I have had fag hags that blend Grace and Karen, but no I didn't see too much of my life there

i will say it was relateable though and an endearing piece of television. Just as the Cosby show did not show my life... but it showed me an idealized vision of how it could be. Let it be just that.

I love will and grace. i start my day watching it on lifetime for an hr. I didn't get to see all the episodes orginally so it's great fun to see them now -I'm still in the closet, so it is seems to fill some kind of need for me. I watch logo channel,too,for a gay fix. 1girl5gays is entertaining and I like the A-list,also. Happily devoriced on tvland channel is the only other show I can think of with a gay man in a main charater role - i enjoy that show,too. Are there any other shows that you guys know of where one of the main charaters is a likeable gay man? I think these shows do help men who are trying to get comfortable with their sexually - if nothing else-to feel alittle more normal and renew hope for a more gay friendly socieity. btw I love this blog. I wish there were more posts and discussions. Keep up the good work.

To be honest, Will & Grace simply reconfirmed the old adage that Americans like their homosexuals the way they like their hamburgers....FLAMING!

W & G had their influence -- the message being "let's keep up the visibility in a positive way". Even greater is that President Obama has now given his support to gay marriage and both the president and vise president should be given our thanks for whatever support they can give. Be visible, inclusive whenever you can.
Peace and wellness ...

Will & Grace promoted the stock gay character from limp-wristed comic relief to petting-zoo lead. Perhaps this sitcom role upgrade greased the wheels of tolerance, in some quarters. Whether it significantly advanced the viewer's understanding or acceptance of those of us who are not TV caricatures is another question.

Yeah, it did a bit. It made me comfortable using the line, 'No, I won't have sex with you. I have t-shirts older than you." LOL
It was the one show than didn't show all gays as swishy and wishy-washy as most hollywood (land of the closeted producers) puts out before and after.

Will and Grace did have a bit of a character stereotype where more and more guys coming out of the closet to have online ads are just regular guys who dont go to a coffee shop as a cultural crutch and so forth. Most mature nice guys are very different from the attitude that those characters displayed after studying a script where writers put the words in their mouths and then I wonder if the writers are gay or not.