So I've got some catching up to do. I'd heard about the ABC Family show "Greek" and the story line involving a black gay character but I'd never seen the show until yesterday (what did we do prior to You Tube?). I was pleasantly surprised to see a story line involving Paul James' character Calvin, a black gay college student who is out on campus as well as to the brothers of his Omega Chi Fraternity.
Surprisingly, the role is cleverly written without the usual inner turmoil that is common among gay characters. Calvin has no angst about being gay and Paul James delivers one of the most non-stereotypical performances of a gay character on television.
It's almost impossible to believe that this show airs on ABC Family, a network that was once owned by conservative Pat Robertson of the hugely popular 700 Club on the CBN Network.
In an interview with AfterElton.com last year Paul James was asked about his progressive attitude towards gays and his answer although controversial in some circles was right on the money for me.
"It comes from my parents. My parents are very great people. My dad grew up in Alabama, in the Civil Rights movement, and so there just wasn't any tolerance for bigotry in the house at all.
And then I went to college and I majored in theater and was around a lot of gay and lesbian people. Everyone was shocked at first, [because] you know in high school you weren't really around that. But you just realize that they're the same people as you are. It probably comes from being black, too. You hear people discriminate against gay people, you can just replace gay with black and go back 30 or 40 years and it's the same thing."
ABC Family deserves praise for including a black gay character in what could have easily been this generation Beverly Hills 90210-void of color. But what Greek fails to address is the race issue. I have to believe that Calvin's journey would have twice the impact if he were romantically involved with another black man. Too often the powers that be miss out on a perfect opportunity to tell the stories of an underrepresented community that is dying to see their lives reflected on screen.
No disrespect to those who are involved in interracial relationships(I've dated outside of my race in the past and loved it), but we do love and date our own and this image deserves to be shown.
I will be adding Greek to my Tivo recordings this season. You can catch the show on Mondays on ABC Family at 8/7c.