“General Hospital” Writer Lashes Out At Criticism Over Gay Character

Last week we reported on a new gay character, Felix Dubois, who’s popped up on General Hospital. There’s been some understandable grumbling because Felix is a male nurse who just happens to carry lipstick, which he offers to a female co-worker for a quick touch-up.

The LGBT community is understandably nervous about any depictions of gays in daytime: for years we were knife-wielding killers or cross-dressing psychos—or both. But Ron Carlivati, the General Hospital writer who created Felix, is taking umbrage with criticism of the character.

In a comment on Towleroad, he wrote:

My name is Ron Carlivati and I am the Head Writer of General Hospital. I am also an openly gay man. I created the character of Felix Dubois, the “lipstick-wielding gay male nurse,” and I am frankly appalled by the intolerance and internalized homophobia expressed in this post and in the majority of its comments.

During my career, I have brought no fewer than six gay characters to daytime television: male, female, Black, White, Hispanic… all shapes and sizes. I have written coming out stories, gay bashing stories, gay marriage stories, gay parenting stories and gay love stories. I wrote the first love scene between two gay men that ever aired on daytime TV. I won a GLAAD award for these stories.

What exactly is it about this character that is causing such righteous indignation? The fact that he carries a tube of lipstick in his scrubs? SPOILER ALERT: Felix sells cosmetics to put himself through nursing school. This will be revealed on Monday’s show. Not because I think gay men love lipstick, and certainly not to “establish” himself as gay. But even if that were the reason, so what? Does this make him too queeny? Not straight-acting enough? Is that the only type of gay character allowed on TV now?

As far as I’m concerned, to be offended by this character is what is offensive. And just FYI, the majority of women (our core audience) I have heard from thus far about Felix have expressed to me how much they like him. The only people who seem to have a problem with him are certain gay men who are apparently afraid of a gay character who might be portrayed as a little bit effeminate.

Well, I say shame on you, and shame on Andy Towle, too. Oy, indeed.

Towleroad blogger Andy Towle responds:

There’s no question in my mind that Mr. Carlivati should be allowed the chance to develop his character more fully before judgment is passed and I regret if my commentary suggested that it should.

My expression of “oy” over what I perceived to be a stereotype may have been hasty, but was also informed by having written this site for 9 years and seeing more than a few damaging caricatures in television and movies along the way.

I’ve also reported very positively on other soap characters written by Mr. Carlivati. I’m looking forward to seeing how his Felix Dubois character develops and thank him for his remarks and reaction.

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  • Little-Kiwi

    he’s right. the backlash has been stupid beyond words. it’s the same old same old – insecure wimpy resentful homosexuals who are angry that a gay male character is being portrayed as the Type of Gay that, let’s be real here, their bigoted family and community would choose to mock and denigrate.

    wah wah. get over it.

    then people make up some nonsense “all gay characterizations in the media are effeminate and stereotypical and it’s not fair!” which is some intellectually-dishonest B.S. quite frankly.

    this one portrayal of a gay character does not say “all gay men are like this!” just as the gay male characters on shows like Law & Order, Six Feet Under, Brothers and Sisters, The New Normal, Modern Family, Will & Grace, Queer as Folk, and the other gay characters on soaps don’t, either.

    time and time again we get the insecure (and, frankly, Closeted) complainers who freak the f**k out about perceived “gay stereotypes” without any understanding of nuance.

    nothing about this is in any way inherently negative or harmful and the knee-jerk reactions to it have been incredibly telling about the insecurity of many gay males, who still seem to believe that any portrayal of a gay man in the media must be, like, the Marlboro Man or something in order to be “acceptable”

    it’s nonsense. this is general hospital. last i checked, the straight men those cowards are still living in fear of don’t exactly watch the program. so chill.

  • RomanHans

    The backlash hasn’t been “stupid beyond words”: it’s been totally understandable. If they had tap-dancing, fried-chicken loving African American character, you think anybody would wait around for an explanation? You think they’d be content if the writer said, “Well, the show had some nice black characters last year”? Minority groups RIGHTFULLY get annoyed at the portrayal of negative stereotypes, and I see absolutely no problem with that here.

  • ncman

    @Little-Kiwi: I don’t mind your comments (unrelenting that they are) that there shouldn’t be anything wrong with portraying effeminate gay men in the media. But, you always manage to phrase it as though you believe there is something wrong with portraying any non effeminate gay men in the media. You make it sound like you don’t believe the Marlboro Man could be gay. And, if he were gay, then he is obviously a closet case who is self-hating and just hiding his natural effeminate personality.

    Could you at least once admit that there are naturally occurring non-effeminate gay men who are not in the closet, not self-hating and not hiding their inner fabulous diva? All types exist, all types are valid. But, you seem to believe that only the effeminate are the valuable ones.

  • Fidelio

    a make-up sales man? unless it’s mac, i am not convinced.

  • Little-Kiwi

    romanhans -attempt to articulate intelligently how this is in any way a “negative” stereotype.

    seriously. attempt it.

    what’s inherently NEGATIVE about this?

    and NCMAN, i’ve never once framed anything of the sort. most gay characterizations on TV are of non-effeminate gay males.

    i’ve never once stated anything resembling what you’ve just written. click on my name, see my blog.

    would you describe me as “effeminate”, and if so, by what specific criteria?

    i’m not the one who believes people cannot be “masculine and gay” – i dare say most of my gay male friends and lovers would fall under what society deems to be “masculine”

    the difference? they’re man enough to never, in any way, denigrate “effeminate” gay men. and why would they? they’re confident and secure gay men.

    but kudos to you for creating a straw-man argument. i love when you boys do that. it just proves me right.

  • ncman

    @Little-Kiwi: Please provide the list of most of the gay men portrayed in the media as “masculine”.

    Also, I’ve never seen one of your posts on this issue on this blog or any other where you don’t insert at least one of the terms closeted, self-hating, insecure etc to describe the masculine gay men who object to there being an overabundance of stereotypical feminine gay men in the media. You always make them sound as though they are masculine “acting” and just unwilling to let their real feminine side show in public. That’s what I take from your description of them as closeted and self-hating.

  • kingkuy

    @RomanHans: lol given the ignorance you took the time to type up i’m not surprised you find the backlash to this character “understandable” (have you even read any of the criticisms and comments besides this article)

    anywho, carrying lipstick is not a negative stereotype and his character isn’t really flamboyant… which is also not a bad thing

    but i’m sure you caused just as much an uproar when they didn’t bring A-List Dallas back

  • RomanHans

    @Little-Kiwi: If you don’t understand why a gay TV character carrying lipstick is offensive, you aren’t worth talking to.

    @kingkuy: Your total irrationality and the fact you don’t use capital letters for any of your sentences makes me think you’re probably a figment of Little-Kiwi’s imagination. Either way, your “A-List Dallas” comment says more about you than me, because I’ve never seen it.

  • unreligious

    @RomanHans: I too do not understand why a lipstick carrying gay man is offensive. Do you feel that gay men who are into drag or wear makeup are offensive? I don’t partake in drag, nor do I really understand the attraction many gay men have for it. However I do not feel they are offensive, nor do I feel that portrayal of such people should be censored. People like you who feel that gay people should be sanitized so they do not offend the sensibilities of straight people, are as much a part of the problem as the straights, who are offended by them.

  • redcarpet

    Ooooh home girl got served on a platter with parsley. Snaps to Mr. Carlivati.

  • RomanHans

    @unreligious: Please God, make this Little-Kiwi again. Surely there aren’t three irrational idiots here.

    Dude, learn some logic. There’s a difference between being offended by stereotypical portrayals of gays as effeminate and being offended by effeminate gays.

    BTW, have you ever seen Eric Stonestreet when he’s not playing gay on Modern Family? What do you think is different about him in real life? HE’S NOT EFFEMINATE. He doesn’t mince, he doesn’t lisp, he doesn’t wear scarves. Am I offended by men who mince or lisp or wear scarves? Well, depends on the scarf. No, I mean of course not. For every one masculine gay man on TV (I’m thinking the dude on Happy Endings here) there are eighty mincing lispers who carry lipstick.

    When we’re talking “part of the problem,” then, I’m thinking it’s guys like you who fight for the right for offensive stereotypes to be on TV without realizing NEARLY EVERY PORTRAYAL OF A HOMOSEXUAL ON TV is an offensive stereotype.

    Anyway, on to snappier pastures. Good luck thinking! Hope I gave you a jumpstart.

  • Little-Kiwi

    articulate intelligently how it’s offensive, hans. seriously. attempt to do so.

    it’s very simple: “masculine” and confident and secure gay men don’t take any issue whatsoever with other gay men who may not fit that same ideal of “masculinity” – that’s entirely the domain of the insecure and postured homosexual male.

    what specific “overabundance” are you talking about? attempt to use specific examples. reality is, most portrayals of gay men in the media are not “effeminate”.

    wanna prove me wrong? actually prove it with citations and examples.

    *elegant curtsy*

  • Little-Kiwi

    hans, attempt to articulate what is inherently harmful and “negative” about this specific portrayal, and the other portrayals that clearly get under your skin.

    and no, just because “those stereotypes” are the type your piece of s**t family denigrates and mocks doesn;t count as justification.

  • Little-Kiwi

    “Could you at least once admit that there are naturally occurring non-effeminate gay men who are not in the closet, not self-hating and not hiding their inner fabulous diva?”

    you just described a great many of my friends and lovers. and if the type of guys that hit on me are to give me any insight, you just described me as well.

    wanna try again? ;-)

  • John Doe

    Some gay men ARE effeminate, are flight attendants, cut hair, do makeup, have high pitched voices, have limp wrists, pluck their eyebrows, etc. Unless someone is ashamed of (or afraid of) effeminate gays…. there shouldn’t be anything wrong with portraying a gay character that way UNLESS it is done in a derogatory fashion, which obviously in today’s Hollywood world is borderline career suicide. Sadly, however, even the gay community associates these effeminate traits (or being a bottom) as a negative or embarrassing thing.

  • Daniel-Reader

    What’s bad is he made the character black. The black gay community has a hard time coming out because all the stereotypes in mainstream media are that black gay = black femme stereotype. It would have been groundbreaking to make the character a masculine gay black man instead. Name the mainstream masculine gay black men on network (not cable) tv. Where are they? Where are the masculine, non-“down low”-storyline, out and proud gay black men on network tv? The black community needs to be shown that being gay doesn’t mean you can’t be masculine. Pretty much the media depicts gay black men as “down low” and therefore ashamed, or as drag queens ala RuPaul or offhandedly via Tyler Perry’s Medea crossdressing, etc. No wonder young gay black men are having such a massive health crisis. How about some decent representation on network tv with some out and proud, masculine black gay men? How about a masculine gay black man on a soap that female viewers would want to sleep with if they could, rather than pal around with doing make-up?

  • ChiChi Man

    Does he have a plot line? Will he turn out to be the long lost son of a major character? Or maybe he’ll do a baby swap? Will he have (oh my GOD) a boyfriend? Or will he be relegated to the long list of sassy gay background characters who they drag out for comic relief?

    I think we should embrace our effeminate characters, but I’ll be shocked if Feilx is written as three-dimensional and I’ll faint (effeminately) if he gets more than a few scenes a month. I truly hope I’m wrong. At least, they didn’t name him Sassafras.

  • Charli Girl

    ….aaaaaaaand NOW the guys know what us females go thru on a DAILY basis.
    Heteros THINK you MUST want them IF you dont fit “their bill” of what THEY ASSUME what a gay
    woman SHOULD look like!!! UGH
    We should ALL be who we are!!!
    Love and laughter :-)

  • ncman

    @Little-Kiwi: you said

    “what specific “overabundance” are you talking about? attempt to use specific examples. reality is, most portrayals of gay men in the media are not “effeminate”.”

    But, you are the one who claimed there were way more masculine gay characters portrayed than feminine. You were asked for your examples. Then, instead of providing any examples, you decided to ask someone else for examples of the feminine gay portrayals.

    That’s some trick to turn the question around instead of providing any any proof for your assertion.

  • Peter

    So I watched the scene, and this is what I got from it:

    A woman is going to an AIDS charity event. When Felix finds out, his eyes light up and he asks to “sign up” for the event.

    “You can have me sing and dance,” he says. “There wasn’t a moment in my childhood when I didn’t have an original soundtrack on the radio.”

    Then he plays with her hair and says “Let me shoosh you up.”

    Then he pulls out some coco lipstick for his guurlfriend…

    And I didn’t want to watch anymore of it.

    This is a stereotypical effete gay character pandering to the female demographic, because that’s who watches soap operas (mostly women and effeminate men). So it does make sense in that regard.

    However, I’m a black man taking medical classes and I don’t carry lipstick or “shoosh up” women’s hair or offer dating advice to my girlfriends on the spot with a touch of sass.

    Yes, he is a stereotype. The helpful, effete black man who provides servant-like assistance to his girlfriends, and strengthens their own sense of femininity. But what about his sense of masculinity and dignity? Did he have to whip out that tube of lipstick and be the magical negro?


  • kingkuy

    @RomanHans: proper sentence structure isn’t necessary to prove my point. if you feel so strongly about capital letters then maybe you should teach a free online English course and rid the internet of incorrect grammar

    and likening me to this kiwi guy proves what… exactly?

    also, you didn’t answer my question so i’ll assume you haven’t read/seen/heard anything else besides this article related on the matter unless you troll other gay news sites posting nonsense musings about the dangers of effeminate characters

    and i’ll play along with you having not seen A-List Dallas… in a way i guess that explains your misplaced outrage in one harmless day-time soap character. that show was a perfect example of awful gay stereotypes (on a gay network btw)

    there is nothing derogatory about Felix’s character and unless that changes in future episodes then everyone (yourself included) is wasting their exceptional grammar skills

    P.S. <- here are two capital letters… de nada

  • ait10101

    Some guys are more masculine; some are more feminine; some are gay. Get over it.

  • ait10101

    @kingkuy: You may not know this, but some of us are older and our eyes are not so good. The little periods at the ends of sentences are hard to pick up on smallish screen, and we rely on the redundancy of capitals to identify sentences, or else we have to slow our reading a lot. At first glance your posts look like big run-on sentences a bit like verbal diarrhea. If you want to present yourself like that, fine with me, I will generally skip your posts as too hard to read. But I thought you should know that not everyone has as keen eyes as you do.

  • Little-Kiwi

    @ncman: here ya go. i’ll enjoy proving you to be an idiot.


    Six Feet Under. Law & Order: SVU. Brothers & Sisters. Modern Family. The New Normal. Queer as Folk. The Office. the new 90210, and at least two current soap operas. Big Love. True Blood. Degrassi. the gay characters besides Kurt on Glee. The Good Wife. Shameless. Torchwood. Entouage. Nurse Jackie.

    would like me to continue by listing more (which there are) or do you need me to list the specific character names and the actors that portray them? how about you attempt to make a list wherein you prove your thesis statement that ‘most portrayals are effeminate stereotypes”?

    or are you just one more miserable troll who says things he cannot back up?

    either way, thanks for proving me right.

  • ncman

    @Little-Kiwi: Modern Family???? LOLOLOL There is no masculine gay may on Modern Family. Hell, the straight father of the three kids isn’t even masculine on that show.

    Remember, your original claim was this:

    “and NCMAN, i’ve never once framed anything of the sort. most gay characterizations on TV are of non-effeminate gay males.”

    So, all I have to do to win the argument is come up with a list of effeminate gay characters on TV that is longer than your list. So, here it is:

    Brothers & Sisters, Modern Family, The New Normal, Queer as Folk, True Blood, Glee, Saturday Night Live, Desperate Housewives, Will & Grace, Ugly Betty, The A-List NY, The A-List Dallas, 5 gays 1 Girl, Real Housewives, Entourage, Smash, The Real World, NYPD Blue, Flipping Out, Carson Nation, Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Project Runway, Big Brother, Partners, Sex and the City, Roseanne

  • Little-Kiwi

    oh, i get it. you apparently think ‘effeminate’ means “openly gay”

    i will never ever tire of you cowardly wimps proving me right.

    happy holidays! ten bucks says you wont’ be spending it with any family members, who likely loathe your gay @ss :D

  • ncman

    @Little-Kiwi: No, I don’t equate effeminate with openly gay. For example, the football player on Glee who finally came out as gay is masculine. But, the Darrin Criss character (Kurt’s boyfriend) is feminine. Just look at the little costumes they dress him up in. On Modern Family, the gay couple are both feminine. Cam is very feminine, but the other isn’t masculine. He’s limp wristed and a purse falls out of his mouth every time he speaks. On Desperate Housewives, the gay couple who lived on the street had one feminine and one masculine partner both openly gay. The New Normal has one feminine and one masculine partner, both openly gay. Partners has one masculine and one feminine partner, both openly gay.

    I’m really interested to find out what character on Entourage you thought was masculine. Certainly not Ari’s admin assistant.

    Oh, and just one other point. If you constantly resort to declaring that someone else has proven you right, it’s not likely to be true.

  • Little-Kiwi

    @ncman: actually, you are proving me right. you equate “classically or obviously or visibly/identifiably gay” as “feminine”

    nice job, wimp.

    i get it. you’re an insecure homosexual with no balls. die in your closet :D

Comments are closed.