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New year brings new LGBT television portrayals

Amid the critical success of films like “Brokeback Mountain,” “Transamerica” and “Rent” — which help shatter stereotypes and change hearts and minds by telling LGBT stories — the next wave of LGBT visibility arrives via television screens in early 2006.

Four new network shows premiering in January (two comedies and two dramas) will feature LGBT characters. These join a host of reality shows and returning cable dramas that include LGBT portrayals. Of note, Showtime’s “The L Word” introduced a female-to-male transgender character when it launched its third season on Jan. 8, and the HBO western “Deadwood” will introduce a gay character when it returns in June.

“ Viewers can be both entertained and educated by stories on television that reflect the diversity of families and communities across this country,” said Damon Romine, entertainment media director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “Images on television and in film have the power to help Americans embrace their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender family members, friends and neighbors with understanding and acceptance.”
Here is a list of new television programming featuring LGBT portrayals, and upcoming highlights for existing shows and specials (schedule subject to change):
New series currently airing

Jan. 6, 2006: “The Book of Daniel” (NBC) is a witty and unconventional family drama starring Aidan Quinn (“An Early Frost”) as Rev. Daniel Webster, an Episcopalian minister who actually sees Jesus and discusses life with him. Daniel’s family includes his 23-year-old gay son Peter (Christian Campbell, “Trick”) and his bisexual sister-in-law.

Fred Savage plays gay son Mitch Devane on ‘Crumbs.’
Jan. 9, 2006: “Emily’s Reasons Why Not” (ABC), comedy about a single girl (Heather Graham) looking for love. Features Khary Payton as her gay best bud Josh who runs a tea shop and has a boyfriend named Aknad (Michael Benyaer).
Jan. 12, 2006: “Crumbs” (ABC) is a dysfunctional family comedy with Jane Curtin and William Devane. The only sane one in the Crumb clan might just be their gay son, Mitch, played by Fred Savage (“The Wonder Years”).

Upcoming series premieres
Jan. 17, 2006: “Love Monkey” (CBS), the new one-hour comedy-drama stars Tom Cavanagh (“Ed”) searching for love against the backdrop of the music industry. Features his gay pal Jake (Christopher Wiehl, “Playmakers”), an ex-pro athlete and sportscaster.

Feb. 21, 2006: “The Real World: Key West” (MTV) is the 17th incarnation of the reality series and features gay castmember, Tyler, who joins the housemates in running a tanning salon in South Florida.

March 15, 2006: “Top Chef” (Bravo) is the new reality-competition where 12 chefs aspire to win the coveted crown of “Top Chef.” Features 28-year-old bisexual Tiffani Faison (signature dish pumpkin lasagna) and 40-year-old Dave Martin (signature dish lamb enchiladas) who recently came out as a gay man.

Additional 2006 programming Highlights

Already debuted and currently airing

Bruce Vilanch and Chastity Bono battle to lose the extra pounds on ‘Celebrity Fit Club.’

Jan. 1, 2006: “Celebrity Fit Club” (VH1) kicks off a new round of famous people fighting flab, including out performer Bruce Vilanch and activist Chastity Bono.

Jan. 6, 2006: “Party Line with the Hearty Boys” (Food Network) premieres its second season, hosted by real-life couple Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh.

Jan. 8, 2006: “The L Word” (Showtime) season three premieres. Alan Cumming joins
the cast as a Billie Blaikie, the quintessential party boy party planner. Actress Daniela Sea joins the show in the recurring role of Moira, a transgender character.

Jan. 10, 2006: “Party, Party” (Bravo) episode features two gay couples planning two very different weddings for themselves.

Jan. 10, 2006: “All My Children” (ABC) episode features the exit of Bianca (Emmy-winner Eden Riegel), Erica Kane’s lesbian daughter, who returned to Pine Valley for the holidays.

Upcoming LGBT-related television
Jan. 16, 2006: “General Hospital” (ABC) is now exploring the story of Luke Spencer’s gay nephew Lucas (Ben Hogestyn).

Feb. 3, 2006: “South of Nowhere” (The N) airs its season finale which may leave viewers hanging about the romantic future of teen girls Ashley and Spencer. Not to worry, season two is on its way in Fall ’06.

Feb. 7, 2006: “Black Filmmaker Showcase: Jumpin’ the Broom” (Showtime) is a documentary about marriage equality from an African-American perspective.

Feb. 8, 2006: “Black Filmmaker Showcase: Sarang Song” (Showtime), set amidst the student protests of the early ’70s, a woman must choose between her lover and the movement.

Feb. 18, 2006: “Beautiful Daughters” (Logo) is a moving documentary about the first transgender stage production of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Real-life gay couple Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh are back as hosts of ‘Party Line with the Hearty Boys’ on the Food Network.
March 19, 2006: “The Next Food Network Star” (Food Network) kicks off its second season and features one or more LGBT contestants. Last season’s winners, gay couple Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, are now the hosts of the network’s “Party Line with the Hearty Boys.”

April 2006: “GLAAD Media Awards” (Logo) recognize and honor the mainstream media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives.

May 2006: “Will & Grace” (NBC) is scheduled to end its successful, Emmy-winning run after eight seasons.

June 2006: “Deadwood” (HBO) premieres its third season and adds Emmy-winner Brian Cox as Jack Langrishe, a gay and eccentric theater owner who tries to bring culture to the mean streets of Deadwood.

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