GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network, was allowed access to the script of a very special episode of “Ugly Betty” before it airs on ABC. The episode will premiere on Wednesday, April 7.
GLSEN can’t divulge too much about the episode but they were allowed to share the image showing Justin dancing with love-interest Austin. This will come as no surprise to fans of the show following the unfashionable Betty Suarez (America Ferrara) as she navigates through Mode, the fictional fashion magazine where she is employed. Last week saw her nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato) kissing his love interest, Austin.
“It’s exciting for us to see a young LGBT character being portrayed in a positive manner. You can’t overstate the importance for young people to be able to identify some of these issues that they are going through,” said Daryl Presgraves of GLSEN.
One could be cynical and say the only reason the character is coming out is because the show is going off the air after this season. However, the show has always been gay friendly. Marc (Michael Urie)
St. James was always out in the show even if he is hesitant to label himself anything other than queer in real life. The show even dealt with sexual reassignment when Alexis Meade (Rebecca Romijn) sister to Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius), Betty’s boss, appears in Episode 14 after she has transitioned to female.
There was even something of a gay mentor for Justin in Marc’s character. Early on in the series Marc tells Justin—on the set of a magical Christmas photo shoot for Mode—that he should always be himself. He does advise Justin that he should learn to run fast, from bullies.
However, rather than just chronicle the coming out of a young man still in high school, the episode’s partnership with GLSEN lets its young fans know there is help, hope, and mentors for them. Surely, thousands among “Ugly Betty’s” fan base consist of young, closeted individuals yearning for a glimpse of fabulous. While they haven’t divulged too much of the plot, GLESN plays an active part in the episode.
The show’s creative team had this to say about GLSEN’s involvement.
We hope you’ll watch this episode—maybe even gather a group of friends to watch it with you. As a supporter, you’ll be proud to know that GLSEN is mentioned prominently. But what’s even more important is that GLSEN’s message about safe schools for all students—LGBT, questioning or otherwise—is at the heart of Justin’s story.
So even if you’re not a fan of “Ugly Betty” tune in on Wednesday night, to ABC at 8 pm to support gay youth. Who knows, maybe watching Justin kiss Austin you’ll vicariously experience kissing the boy you wished you could have shared your love for in high school.