Forget about Edith Windsor and Harvey Milk, the current wins for the LGBT community in the U.S. should be credited in part to “The Simpsons,” a German researcher said.
In his new book “Behind the Gay Jokes - Homosexuality in 'The Simpsons’,” scholar Erwin In het Panhuis analyses 490 scenes in the American satirical cartoon and over 70 gay characters, arriving to the conclusion that The Simpson’s has supported gay rights long before “Will and Grace” ever aired.
Among the characters he analyses is Homer, the lovable doofus and family head. Panhuis said that Homer is a more sexually complex character than he appears at first glance.
“Homer has kissed other men on the lips more than 50 times throughout the series but despite that he’s happily married to his wife,” Panhuis told told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, as reported by The Local. “Homer is sometimes heterosexual, sometimes gay and sometimes homophobic.”
Mr. Burns’ assistant, Smithers, is among the many gay recurring characters on the show. For Panhuis, their relationship goes beyond the seemingly superficial jokes on the show.
“IIt is a very complicated relationship full of fear and unrequited love and moments of real tenderness,” Panhuis said.
The Cologne-based academic also pointed out that in 2005, The Simpsons was the first cartoon series to dedicate an entire episode to gay marriage. That same year, Marge’s sister, Patty’s, also came out as lesbian.
Panhuis said Patty’s sexuality was hinted as far back as 1992, when in an episode where Homer runs past her naked she says: “There goes the last lingering thread of my heterosexuality.”
In 1997 the show won a GLAAD award for an episode in which Homer thinks his son, Bart, will turn gay, but later tells his son that he’ll support him whatever his sexuality is.
“ set the standard for cartoon series…and I believe it’ll always be a trailblazer,” Panhuis said.