Everyone knows by now that I am a television junkie. One of my favorite, and probably the gayest show on TV (sorry Project Runway), is Ugly Betty.
While it is based on the over the top telenovela style of shows, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, it has also been great about giving visibility to LGBT community. From transgender issues to marriage, the show hasn't really shied away from anything queer.
This is especially true with the character of Betty's teenage nephew, Justin. Justin is an effeminate, musical-loving, fashion designing, tap dancing, kid- something I'm not sure I've seen before on a network TV show. Heck, he's like a mini-me from my teenage years (but without my small-town angst). Over the past few weeks, they have been slowly developing a side story where Justin seems to be about to break another barrier- by getting a boyfriend.
I will admit it has made me nervous to watch. Not because I was afraid of what the writers might do or that it might be offensive, but nervous because it was so true to life and struck a chord.
Justin, who is secure and happy with who he is in all his fabulousity, ends up befriending a rough and tumble jock from school when they discover they both like musicals at an audition. They have slowly gotten closer and become friends, even going on an outing to go see "Little Shop of Horrors" together.
It was also great to see his mother supporting him and the burgeoning romance, even buying him a pair of tickets to a Broadway show so he could take his new interest. That has been the other beauty of the show, Justin's family embraces who he is, supporting him all the way. The show has built a support group for him- from Mark, Betty's gay coworker who talked to Justin about being different and "swishy" to his immediate family who has encouraged him to be himself.
What also struck me was this week's episode, where Justin's potential suitor gets teased by his jock friends and ends up cruelly and publicly telling Justin to leave him alone. It's something many of us (and many youth today) can relate to.
The part that gives me hope was the aftermath, where his mother sits him down and tells him that he is perfect the way he is and to never let anyone make him feel bad about it. It was a moving TV moment that will resonate with LGBTQ youth who go through the same thing every day.