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General Hospital soap character too ‘effeminate’ for comfort?

Marc Anthony Samuel, who plays Felix Dubois on General Hospital

Last week the long-running soap opera General Hospital introduced a gay character, a nurse named Felix Dubois. In one of Felix’s first scenes, he offers a lipstick he keeps in his scrubs to one of his female co-workers for a touchup.

For some reason this created outrage in parts of the LGBT community, some of whom feel that a lipstick-carrying male nurse is a homophobic stereotype. General Hospital head writer Ron Carlivati took particular offence to a post by Andy Towle on the gay blog Towleroad and hit back with his defence in the comments section:

My name is Ron Carlivati and I am the Head Writer of General Hospital. I am also an openly gay man. I created the character of Felix Dubois, the “lipstick-wielding gay male nurse,” and I am frankly appalled by the intolerance and internalized homophobia expressed in this post and in the majority of its comments.

 
During my career, I have brought no fewer than six gay characters to daytime television: male, female, Black, White, Hispanic… all shapes and sizes. I have written coming out stories, gay bashing stories, gay marriage stories, gay parenting stories and gay love stories. I wrote the first love scene between two gay men that ever aired on daytime TV. I won a GLAAD award for these stories.
 
What exactly is it about this character that is causing such righteous indignation? The fact that he carries a tube of lipstick in his scrubs? SPOILER ALERT: Felix sells cosmetics to put himself through nursing school. This will be revealed on Monday’s show. Not because I think gay men love lipstick, and certainly not to “establish” himself as gay. But even if that were the reason, so what? Does this make him too queeny? Not straight-acting enough? Is that the only type of gay character allowed on TV now?

 
As far as I’m concerned, to be offended by this character is what is offensive. And just FYI, the majority of women (our core audience) I have heard from thus far about Felix have expressed to me how much they like him. The only people who seem to have a problem with him are certain gay men who are apparently afraid of a gay character who might be portrayed as a little bit effeminate.
 
Well, I say shame on you, and shame on Andy Towle, too. Oy, indeed.

Andy Towle took the time to respond to Carlivati’s comments, saying:

There’s no question in my mind that Mr. Carlivati should be allowed the chance to develop his character more fully before judgment is passed and I regret if my commentary suggested that it should.

 
My expression of “oy” over what I perceived to be a stereotype may have been hasty, but was also informed by having written this site for 9 years and seeing more than a few damaging caricatures in television and movies along the way.
 
I’ve also reported very positively on other soap characters written by Mr. Carlivati. I’m looking forward to seeing how his Felix Dubois character develops and thank him for his remarks and reaction.

 

I personally don’t watch General Hospital (I’ve been a Y&R queen since I was in utero), but I must say, I think it’s refreshing to see a lipstick-wearing fag on daytime. We do exist, and frankly, it’s offensive to suggest that our representation is offensive, when all it really is, is honest.

  

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