As The World Churns

GLAAD Honors As The World Turns. Isn’t That Homophobic?


Celebrating 52 years on the air, CBS’s daytime soap As the World Turns broke ground a few years ago with the relationship between Luke (Van Hansis) and Noah (Jake Silbermann), the first time gay characters were allowed to be anything but bit players in the background. Slowly but surely, the Luke+Noah romance blossomed, and this year the pair were finally allowed to KISS ON SCREEN! But that’s it. While they’ve smooched and hugged some more, the cameras never followed them to the bedroom until just this month, which is status quo for straight couples on the show. Which means World has pushed the envelope more than any other show, but consciously refuses to actually tear the thing open. Either way, GLAAD awarded the show with a Media Award, which “recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives.” In fact, it’s the second year in a row the soap won. But are they being rewarded for showcasing a gay couple in love, while forcing them to keep the closet door only partially open?

When the characters debuted in all their glorious gaydom, it was obvious they weren’t allowed to kiss — a glaring omission to folks like us, but a way not to send the show’s conservative viewers complaining to the FCC. Now that the “kissing” barrier has been broken, fans are calling for more. Yes, that type of “more.”


Only recently did the two consummate their relationship, which is either a positive image of gay men (who always sleep with each other after the first half-date, right?) or an intentional move not to portray Luke and Noah (or “Nuke,” as fans call ’em) as realistic lovers.

It’s not that World is uncomfortable with that territory (they regularly show men and women between the sheets in PG scenes), but they are when it comes to man-on-man plotlines. Because showing Luke and Noah passionately stripping each others’ clothes off SUGGESTS THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE SEX, which means penis and butts and EWWWW!!

As The World Turns‘ producers at Procter & Gamble Productions acknowledged the fine line they’re walking, notes the LA TimesThe Envelope blog. Spokeswoman Jeannie Tharrington “conceded last year that the conservative portrayal of Luke and Noah’s love life was due in part to ‘some of the feedback that we’ve gotten.’ Part of that feedback was the threat of a boycott against Procter & Gamble products led by the right-wing political group American Family Assn. of Tupelo, Miss., which denounced the show’s portrayal of homosexuality as ‘repulsive’ and ‘offensive.’”

But GLAAD president Neil Giuliano says they’re giving the show an award not merely to get the stars to attend its awards gala, but because “our job is to reward and recognize when there’s a fair and accurate portrayal of gay life in media. Are they always going to be perfect? No. But we do have an obligation to recognize them and thank people when they do move the needle. We’ve got to balance that with our frustration that it’s not as much progress as we want. … GLAAD has very much a carrot and stick approach, fighting defamation and working in media advocacy. The awards program is the time we recognize people for being fair, accurate and inclusive. It’s not the time we bring out the stick and raise our anti-defamation fists in the air about things people are not doing as well as they should.”

Not good enough, argues The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil. “Giuliano is missing the point of protests against his awards. As the World Turns didn’t provide a ‘fair and accurate portrayal’ of gay romance in 2007 and 2008 — not unless we believe that gay people don’t kiss and have sex like the heterosexual couples we see engaged in steamy trysts on TV soap operas every day.” (Technically, the time frame of eligibility where ATWT won its GLAAD Media Awards was both during the “kiss” ban and the “intimacy” ban.)

O’Neil has been down this road before. After 2008’s Media Awards, he called on GLAAD to rescind its award to ATWT, making an identical argument then: “It’s an outrage that an organization devoted to battling gay discrimination in the media would honor a TV show that blatantly and notoriously discriminates against gay romance.”


TV Guide Canada‘s Nelson Branco is in agreement. And more so: Why is ATWT being awarded when there’s another show at least equally deserving, with an actual gay actor, positively portraying gay men? “The big story, however, is the oh-so-glaring omission of General Hospital: Night Shift, a critically acclaimed soap opera which featured burgeoning gay couple Eric and Kyle on their soap. The SOAPnet series even hired out gay actor Chad Allen to portray the role of Eric. When was the last time that has ever happened in this industry?”

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  • bigjake75

    What is wrong with encouraging moves in a good direction? Oh I can’t wait until Im attacked again here…

    I do think those awards should be given with a caveat…that there is still further to go before fairness is achieved. We can never let go of the cause until full equality is realized.

  • Gurlene

    Gay characters appear in series nowadays to produce controversy in order to boost ratings. It is not done out of acceptance of us.

  • Zeke

    @Gurlene: Gurlene- having briefly worked on ‘As the World Turns’ briefly, I can tell you conclusively that you are wrong.

  • bigjake75

    @Gurlene: and who cares if its to boost ratings…the fact is that the more people are exposed to the reality that gay men and women exist, and actually love and feel and live regular lives…the more acceptance will eventually follow. Ah, the law of unintended consequences…

  • Aaron K

    Luke Snyder has a wonderful accepting relationship with his parents and grandparents. They all fully accept his boyfriend Noah. The show dedicated an entire episode in 2008 to a gay pride celebration and consistently has the characters speak about tolerance. For all the flaws that might be there from time to time, ATWT is doing more to put out positive gay images than most television shows. Why tear them down instead of asking why other shows aren’t telling the story of two loving young men who are devoted to each other.

  • jbw

    I will shamelessly say that I watch ATWT every day now and got hooked because of Luke and Noah. Anyone who watches regularly would know that they have had MANY storylines — even those beyond Luke and Noah (particularly Brian, who married Lucinda and then came out), and also Lily (Luke’s mother) who just signed on to be the chairman of the board of his foundation which works exclusively for gay rights. This show is to be commended and I, as a GLADD member and supporter, am thrilled that they recognize this. Of course I would love for Luke and Noah to be given the same salacious screen time given to people like Carly and Jack, Dusty and Meg, and so forth, but the truth of the matter is, this is the only show on American daytime television that is making an effort in this area. The cliche is true people, Rome wasn’t built in a day. If we get angry and alienate people along the journey, we will never reach the goal.

  • Powerbottom Philly

    I have been watching ATWT since I was a kid. The show should be commended for this storyline, as well as numerous other storylines it has had featured.

  • Puck

    Because Luke and Noah are hot and Chad Allen is not. Thas why, hes also a crappy actor

  • broadway_baby

    At the very least, the actors and the writers who have advocated for telling the story of these two boys falling in love in a realistic and sensitive way deserve all the praise and recognition they can get.

    What’s REALLY troubling is that the powers that be behind the show are forcing one of those actors to stay in the closet – while capitalizing on all the fanfare and gay press – which is way more offensive than some pruddishness around showing gay sex, if you ask me.

  • emmy

    Which one of the actors is gay? Shouldn’t this tidbit of information be its very own story on Queerty?

  • Attmay

    @Puck: Agreed. He was horrible as an autistic boy on “St. Elsewhere”. Almost as bad as that wussy kid from that Tony Danza atrocity.

    As for the main article, who cares that soaps finally caught up with the rest of society? These shows are still anachronisms watched primarily by old ladies out of habit. Now that Guiding Light, one of two shows still on the air that aired during the Truman administration (NBC’s “Meet the Press” is the other), has been issued a death certificate, it’s going to be a game of last man standing for the others. Serialized drama is no longer limited to daytime network TV. Many, many prime time dramas have continuing story lines.

    And GLAAD has praised shows that depict gays condescendingly before. Seriously, I tried to watch Will & Grace and Queer as Folk and I wanted to throw things at my TV. They have no credibility with me.

  • keike

    @broadway_baby: Hansis (the blonde one) is gay, but is he really in the closet? Maybe he has an Anderson Cooper thing going on, because it doesn’t seem like he’s trying that hard to keep it a secret.

  • romel batallia

    there’s nothing wrong of having gay couple in our community let’s make them free to choose their lovelife…..i’m also gay but,i did’nt the voice of the other people, i,m serious now finding my prince charming’ so that i’ll be HOPEFULL-gay.

  • broadway_baby

    @emmy: Yeah, Queerty. I would bet there’s a very interesting behind-the-scenes story to be told here, without trashing the poor kid caught in the middle, of course.

  • Lexxvs

    No, it’s not homophobic. This year is deserved. And the amount of love showed between Luke and Noah -the gay couple- is huge. So no, not homophobic. Anyone who really followed the show knows it. So, accurasy wins this round. Yeah for ATWT.

  • chad


  • galefan2004

    Lets talk about that OTHER SHOW. That other show would be General Hospital. Before GH: Night Shift even was a thought, GH broke new ground when they introduced the first ever gay character that was a member of the leading family. It took about 2 months for them to get some new gay audience members before that character simply disappeared from the screen amidst the cries of bigoted fans of the show. P&G has had to fight a daily battle with its fans just to keep NUKE on the air, and as a fan of NUKE for the last year or so, I have been actively blogging against homophobic assholes attacking the show. This show was a huge step for daytime, and should be given respect for that.

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