You know…

I may be older than about half of you guys…but I’m not that old! Hehehe! Promise! And yet, the constant struggle for open and honest representation for the LGBTQ+ community, while still being an uphill battle in a lot of ways, is nowhere near as steep as it used to be. And there’s a huge comfort in that. Because I can remember a time when these kinds of discussions could never ever happen when it came to books, movies, and TV shows. Like…ever.

The first time I ever watched an episode of “Queer As Folk”, I felt like I was doing something ILLEGAL! Hahaha! I had the volume turned down to the point where I could barely hear it for fear that one of my neighbors might find out that I was watching something openly ‘gay’ and tell my parents.

So, yeah…there was a time when there really wasn’t a wealth of gay people on TV. And ESPECIALLY if they were teenagers! Oh God, are you kidding me? We were still desperately trying to get parents to chill out over comic books, gangsta rap, and violent video games! A gay teen on TV would have made their heads explode! That’s about as close to an ‘open mind’ as they could get at that time.

Lucky for us all…times have changed.

The show, “Roseanne”, was a huge success during its first run on television, showing a working class family that spoke to a lot of people and related to them in ways that no other show could. Even as a controversial comedian, the lead character, Roseanne Barr, waltzed her way into American living rooms and captured the hearts of so many people to the point where the show and all of it’s original actors came back to continue the series a few years back.

Then…well…Donald Trump…and her racist comments…the end. So, now the show continues on without her under the name “The Conners”. I wish I could say that I felt bad for her…but that’s what you get for being a fucking racist. So fuck her. I don’t know what happened. Her character got hit by a friggin’ truck or something. Who cares?

BUT…one awesome thing that we got out of the show was a young actor by the name of Ames McNamara! A real sweetheart, and a serious cutie to boot! Hehehe!

Playing the role of Darlene’s son, Mark Conner-Healy, he has become one of the stand outs of the show’s cast this past season or two, and his wit and comic timing is truly fun to watch. Never a show to stray from current events, “The Conners” has touched on issues like the Opioid crisis, to wearing masks during the Covid-19 pandemic, and substance abuse. But one subject that I never expected the show to tackle was the idea of having a gender neutral, non binary, gay teen as a regular part of the show. I’ll admit that I definitely raised an eyebrow at that one. But I think it’s GREAT! Way to go, you guys!

Fourteen year old actor, Ames McNamara, plays a boy who isn’t conforming to any one sense of gender or another, and it was recently made clear that he was a gay teenager, with affections for other boys at his school. An issue that was given a spotlight when he was supposedly photographed kissing another boy at school, violating their public displays of affection rule and having the school call his parents at home to address the situation.

While his family remains supportive and really caring and sweet concerning his sexuality, the other boy denied being gay at all, and Mark had to take the brunt of the punishment all on his own. Ugh! It happens. Sadly. But the way the TV series is handling it is really inspiring and Ames’ character is free to be himself and not just being used for controversy’s sake or made to be the butt of a bunch of borderline homophobic jokes. It’s really amazing to see him being treated with so much love and acceptance…but without making a big deal out of the fact that he’s being treated with love and acceptance. You know what I mean?

It says a lot. It speaks volumes to other teens who may be struggling with these feelings themselves. And it gives me hope that I might actually see the rest of the world grow up and mature in my lifetime after all.

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Coming from Hoboken, New Jersey…Ames began his acting career at a young age in the show, “At Home With Amy Sedaris”, and has been making moves in the industry ever since. His next project being a movie called “Intensive Care”! So keep your eyes open for that one

Now, while his character on “The Conners” TV series has been outed as being gay and non gender specific, the sexual and gender identity of Ames himself in real life isn’t really clear yet. (Most show business careers wait for their clients to be eighteen years old before mentioning anything about sex at all. Just so you know.) However, it has been openly printed that Ames McNamara has come out to say that he was ‘queer’. Which could mean gay, or questioning, or any myriad of other things. But he has done a few interviews with LGBTQ+ magazines and news sources, and queer was the word that he used. So you can take that to mean whatever you think it means for now.

Either way, he rocks in the role of Mark on the show! And I hope he knows how much pride and courage (and probably a bunch of boy crushes) he’s inspired by taking on this role and playing it to perfection. It’s right up there with Joshua Rush in “Andi Mack”, Hayden Byerly in “The Fosters”, or Mark Indelicato in “Ugly Betty”. There’s such a soothing nature to seeing yourself and your teen years being treated like, “Maybe I wasn’t so weird and abnormal after all!” Imagine what something like that can do for gay youth all around the world today. It’s unfathomable to me…because I never had that, growing up.

But Ames plays the role with a real sense of heart and sincerity that you don’t usually see on television shows these days. And it’s a comedy, of course…but it never comes off as insulting or offensive. It never feels like his character is ‘dancing for nickels’ or cheap laughs at his expense, which is pretty refreshing. I can appreciate that.

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Thank you, Ames! For just being yourself, and for portraying a fun and relatable character that didn’t have to fit into some weird kind of ‘cowboy’ narrative, or some stereotypical parody of who gay teens are as human beings, just like everybody else. You may not realize it now, but you’ve probably helped a lot of gay teens feel good about who they are. And that’s something special! Keep doing what you’re doing! And if you decide to be gay when you’re older…then I’m totally jealous of the boy you choose to be your own! He’s gonna be a lucky guy! Hehehe! Stay beautiful, Ames! Love from Comicality!
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