Queerty is better as a member
The Captain and Tennille on The Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show
Not to take anything away from Jim Bullock, but Paul Lynde was pretty Gay acting on Hollywood Squares, Liberace too. And there are others, but that would not exactly make Jim the first and/or definition of “Gay” on TV would it?
I understand not coming out in Hollywood in the 1970s, and I even understand taking a minstrel role like Munroe–but to give him kudos for it?! Ive met Jim, and he’s an nice guy. But it must be a frickin’ slow news day to run a seven-page story on the guy
One of the other guys who was sitting in a square with Bullock – Charles Nelson Reilly. Kinda gay.
Is Bullock the only one to have come out? I don’t know.
Sean “Jack” Hayes hasn’t, but I know that’s none of my business.
“Too close for Comfort” ran for _six_ years?
You guys on here always piss me off with you’re ridiculous comments on what things the moderators should use their time reporting on.. why don’t you make your own site and write about what you want!
I’m a young gay comedian and found this article very resourceful and entertaining. Thank you :)
Very nice interview. Jim J. is a lovely man and a very talented comic actor. It’s so odd to think of all the silliness (there’s no other word for it) that went on back then. It was obvious to anyone watching “Too Close For Comfort” that Jim J. was gay — and they loved him. Beyond sad that he was literally punished for being so talented.
I always knew about Jim J, and I was a little kid. I had the biggest crush on him, and still do! Thanks Queerty!!!
Jim J.’s career began where Paul Lynde’s career ended, and while Lynde’s popularity soared during the sexual revolution that unfolded in the 1960’s and eary 1970’s, Jim J.’s was launched in a suprisingly oppressive era. The scourge of AIDs set back the GLBT community is ways that are probably incomprehensible to many who did not live through it. All gay men were viewed as disease carrying deviants, who God was specifically punishing. Stories of community pools being drained if a gay man thought to have HIV were featured on Oprah and Donahue, and gays who worked in restaurants, dental offices, in the medical profession were either fired, or exposed to rentless discrimination. Patrons even demanded that gay waiters be fired from restaurants who depended upon their dollars. Children with HIV, like Ryan White, were dismissed from their schools.
This all unfoladed, even after a great deal of information swelled to counter the public fears–education seemed to simply fall on deaf ears. The Moral Majority was in full swing, and gays who had just begun to enjoy maintstream acceptance found themselves being forced back into a closet. Thanks to the courageous efforts of activists, such as Larry Kramer, a resistence built in the GLBT community, but in many ways our community is still recovering.
This was the environment that Jim J. was faced with as he portrayed Monroe. Where as Lynde’s Uncle Arthur was laughed with, with a nudge and a wink; the social attitudes at the time created such an environment of intollerance that viewers were only willing to laugh at the most outrageous, the bitchiest and the most fey characterizations of gays at the time. The character of Monroe was none of these, yet still perceived as being possibly gay, and this more realistic portrayal of a “gay” man was very threatening to audiences.
Though not a fan of the show, I did watch from time to time as a kid, and even I could see that Bullock was walking a high beam in a difficult to maintain balancing act. Nevertheless, the one thing that should be pointed out is that Lynde, who had the benefit of a friendlier culture in his time, was reportedly not a very kind human being. Having had the pleasure to spend a long afternoon with Jim J. at a wedding reception, I can first hand report that he is in person what he has always appeared to be on camera, a very gracious and warm man, with an engaging sense of humor and great knack for timing.
Jim J. deserves all seven pages that have been dedicated to him here, I assure you.
Thanks for one of the best articles I have ever read on this site, and, all the best to Jim J. Bullock who was indeed a gay trailblazer!
It’s a great article. I remember this show, vaguely, and I think the only reason I watched was Monroe. I was a kid, I could somehow sense something about this Monroe guy, it was the kind of thing where you wait for that fleeting echo of something that seems familiar to you and yet you don’t understand. We can now talk about minstrelsy and all those things, but we really can’t adopt a holier-than-thou attitude about it: we don’t know what those times were really like. We roll our eyes when we read a book from the early twentieth century advocating a woman’s right to stand up to her husband, thinking that she really should divorce him and set up her own business and get a “room of her own.” But these people did not live in our current world. Were there people who bucked the trend, who seem more courageous to us now b/c they were uncompromising? Sure. But those who do the high wire act, trying to be in the mainstream and also to be true to themselves, they deserve our respect, not our condescension. I had forgotten about Jim J and Too Close for Comfort until today. I’m glad I remember him now: I liked seeing him, brought me back a sense of childhood and of being different even before I could name it. I also think that b/c the show was set in SF, I began to develop an association between SF and queers—and here I am! Thank you Jim J!
I don’t think ever played Monroe as gay — he played him as a SPAZ. And it was funny. His effiminate qualities were thrown in ofcourse – but people watching in Too Close For Comfort’s heyday were more astounded by his energy and clowny spazzy character.
I was called ‘Monroe’ by a few close fahhag in highschool. Go figure. ‘Gay’ was still the thing that dare not speak its name in suburbia circa 1982.
I also really liked the TCFC’s army camoflage and head-band wearing dyke-prototype character of APRIL played by Deena Freeman. She rocked hard.
slow news, fast news day…you’ll still be as cynical i bet….you’re such a twat
I remember how offputting it was to me, how gay Monroe was on the show, and then they tried to have him have a girlfriend later, I was very little and didn’t quite get why the character bugged me. I had a similar feeling when Anthony on Designing Women had a series of Vegas/stripper girlfriends….it’s like. Yeeeeaaahhhhhh, Riiiiiiiight.
What about Nancy Culp as Miss Hathaway on the Beverly Hillbillies? We can’t leave her out.
I was a kid and I knew Monroe was gay…and Monroe helped shaped my sense of humor. Thank God for that.
Even the Hillbillies writers gave Miss Hathaway a crush on Jethro.
That was believable. I’d take Cousin Bessie over him.
Thank you for this article. I liked Jim J. and watched T.C.F.C. It’s a shame he had to work thru the homophobia of the 80s. Technology was being developed, yet attitudes about gays went back to the Salem witch hunt days. Glad to see Jim J. again.
Great article! A perfect change from some of the other crap that is posted on this blog.
Great article- substantive and uplifting as well. Thanks
That clip with the Captain & Tennille on Jim & Tammy Faye’s show had me crying. I had no idea Toni Tennille was a big friend of the gays. It was very moving.
Thanks for the memories. Absolutely love Jim J. Always envied his hair in the 80’s!
Too Close for Comfort was on the air at pretty much the same time as Three’s Company. Monroe vs. Jack Tripper…something, anything there?
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