3 TV Shows Accused By The Religious Rightwing Of Pushing A Gay Agenda
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Politics and Activism

3 TV Shows Accused By The Religious Rightwing Of Pushing A Gay Agenda

"Beauty and the Beast" isn't the first to get on the bad side of the religious right.

3 TV Shows Accused By The Religious Rightwing Of Pushing A Gay Agenda

The much-anticipated live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast has finally been released, accompanied by a firestorm over the revelation that the character of LeFou, sidekick to the film's main antagonist Gaston, is gay in the live action film. LeFou's sexuality is alluded to in a scene in which he subtly displays romantic affection for Gaston, while serenading Gaston in a musical number dedicated to him. Facebook articles on the subject were bombarded with homophobic comments accusing Disney of promoting a "gay agenda" and "shoving it down our throats," lamenting the supposed moral decline of America, and firmly asserting their belief in their God's supposed definition of marriage. One mom wrote an entire blogpost detailing why she would not take her children to see the film because of its inclusion of a gay character.

This kind of anti-gay hysteria has a long history behind it, and has historically been a staple of the religious right and its pushing of "family values." Nowadays, with the waning political power of the more hardcore social conservatism, even many right-wing Christians view griping about this kind of thing as a waste of time. I personally find this whole subject fascinating and amusing, so for your reading pleasure, here are three of the most outlandish instances of TV shows being accused of promoting a gay agenda.

1. Postcards From Buster

In 2004, PBS Kids debuted a spin-off of the popular animated children's series Arthur entitled Postcards from Buster, featuring Arthur's friend Buster Baxter traveling North America and meeting an assortment of real people, mostly children, shot in live action from the perspective of Buster's camcorder. It was kind of an inventive concept.

One episode features Buster interviewing children with lesbian moms, including one who openly mentions her "mom and stepmom" on camera, and remarking, "Wow, that's a lot of moms!" This caught the attention of then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who demanded that PBS return all federal funding used for the episode. Sounded like she had her priorities straight.

Spellings's justification for taking action against this travesty? In her exact words: "many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode." I'm sure both the parents and children featured in that episode loved hearing about how their "lifestyle" was too obscene to be shown to other children. I'd imagine they were very understanding.

2. SpongeBob SquarePants

In 2005, the popular cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants became embroiled in controversy when he appeared with other cartoon characters in a promotional video promoting tolerance and diversity. One wouldn't expect anyone to object to that, but anything is possible with the religious right. In this instance, the ire came primarily from James Dobson, founder of the conservative Christian nonprofit Focus on the Family, who alleged that the words "tolerance" and "diversity" were buzzwords for homosexuality.

The most hilarious part of this story is that Dobson's accusations sparked a debate over whether the character of SpongeBob was homosexual, and whether there was something more than friendship going on between him and his buddy Patrick Star. The rumors were swiftly denied by the producers, but one analyst alleged that SpongeBob and Patrick "are paired with arguably erotic intensity."

If what Dobson calls "tolerance" and "diversity" means a more accepting world where gay teenagers can feel free to be themselves and don't feel ostracized because of their involuntary sexual orientation, I think I'm alright with that.

3. Teletubbies

Even what was seemingly the most benign children's show didn't escape the finger-wagging and moral condemnation of the religious right. Back in the 1990s, popular televangelist Jerry Falwell alleged that the popular, innocuous PBS Kids show Teletubbies was trying to push a gay agenda with the character of Tinky-Winky, backing up his claim with this reasoning: "he is purple – the gay pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle – the gay-pride symbol." The fact that Tinky-Winky carried a magic bag resembling a purse didn't help his case.

Now that I think about it, when I was 5-6 years old and watched Teletubbies regularly, I would be captivated by the triangle on Tinky-Winky's head (which I totally knew was a symbol for gay pride, at 5 years old), and I recall an aura coming over me, and a voice repeating, "Harvey Fierstein is the real God," over and over again. Come to think of it, that purple triangle did look pretty sexy, too.

Seriously though, if there's any reason to prevent your children from watching Teletubbies, it should be because those creatures are creepy AF.

On a slightly related note, I now have the Teletubbies theme stuck in my head. Splendid.

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