Ming-Na with Robert Carlyle, Stargate Universe
When the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation released its annual Network Responsibility Index, Syfy was among the networks receiving "Failing" grades for their depiction of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters.
While CBS, NBC, A&E and TBS declined to comment on their showing, Syfy's executive vice president of original content, Mark Stern, accepted TVGuide.com's invitation to react as well as discuss his network's plans for a more diverse future.
"We are disappointed, obviously," Stern said of the NRI grade. "The 'F' is hard because we are trying, it is something that is in our vocabulary. But we need to work harder."
See which networks got "Good" and "Adequate" grades from GLAAD
A GLAAD rep told TVGuide.com that Syfy's grade was based on the fact that there were only two gay characters appearing on the network's programming during the timetable of the study — Eureka's Vincent and Battlestar Galactica's Gaeta — and the latter's sexual orientation was never directly addressed on the show. Instead, it was only referred to in a webisode.
Looking ahead, however, Syfy's Stern touts two new series and the diversity depicted within.
"On Stargate Universe, one of the main female characters, we discover, is a lesbian and has a wife at home. It's a pretty important facet of who that character is," he says. ER alum Ming-Na plays intergalactic diplomat Camille Wray, while 24's Reiko Aylesworth recurs as her wife.
Similarly the Galactica prequel spin-off Caprica has at least two main characters depicted as being in gay relationships. "[One] is a 'goodfella'-type, and we discover in a nonchalant way that he is gay, with a husband," Stern says. "It was very interesting to me to take what is traditionally a very heterosexual role in an organization that we think of as being extremely homophobic, and put a gay character in that world in a very normalized way."
The other aformentioned Caprica character is part of a communal marriage featuring "heterosexual as well as homosexual couplings."
In both the SGU and Caprica examples, the character's sexuality is merely one facet of who they are, says Stern. "It is not about, 'Oh, look, isn't that progressive, that this person is gay?' No, they are simply gay. There is no commentary necessary," he says. "And that's what were striving for, to make it a naturalistic thing."
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