Gay Vampires

by

Fratty Jesus Dude(FJD): Some sins are bigger than others.
Jason Stackhouse: Like What?
FJD: Well… let’s say you’re gonna do it out of wedlock, you gotta make sure the girl you do it to ain’t married either.
Jason:Right. Cuz adultery’s bad.
FJD: One of the worst. Up there with incest and bestiality.
Jason: [Look of huh gross]
FJD: But all of them put together ain’t half as bad as if you do it to a vampire. [Pause] Or to a dude. Or a vampire dude. That’s cream della cream bad. Straight to hell.

Oh True Blood. Given my penchant for vampire romance as a genre it would be impossible not to like you, and the fact that you’re so excellently written and acted means I don’t have to even try to resist. That said, you do bring up the problem of art you enjoy with whose message you do not totally agree.

Doostyn and I have had many talks with our friends in which they say something like, “I love True Blood‘s message about gay civil liberties!”

And we’re like, “Reeeeeally?”

The show makes a deliberate parallel between vampires and the gays. For the first, the opening credits feature a Church sign reading “God Hates Fangs” for second, girls who have sex with vampires are “fang-bangers” like “fag-hags.” Now, I would argue that fag hags (or, as I prefer to call us, fruit flies) don’t actually want to have sex with their gay friends, but Dan Savage disagrees. Next up is the fact that the US is torn over a Vampire Marriage amendment in (IIRC) Massachusetts. And finally, there are the vampire bars of corny names like Fangtasia. (“Vampires,” says Bill, “Are so old they still find puns amusing.” Incidentally, so do I, my favorite gay bar name is The Manhole.)

But, unfortunately, the picture is not one of rosy acceptance. Every vampire who appears on the show so far is actually murderous and pretty much amoral– with the exceptions of Bill, one of the main characters, and Eddie. Bill is a vampire who doesn’t act like vampire, he only feeds on synthetic blood (and the blood of his girlfriend), separates himself from other vampires, and seems to despise them. To the point that Sookie, the other main character, and his girlfriend, has commented on his self-loathing. Bill, basically, is an ex-gay, someone who defines vampirism (gayness) as an act rather than an identity.

Eddie is the actually gay vampire whom Lafayette exchanges sex for blood with and whom Jason Stackhouse later kidnaps. Eddie wanted to be a vampire to be cool and to pull a bunch of young boys, but ended up being a shut-in. He’s another non-practicing vampire/gay, though this time not by choice. And he’s completely sweet and sympathetic.

Other than that, like I said, the vampires may be interesting, and may be attractive, but so far they are all evil.

In this sort of heavy allegorical air, it’s also important to look at how actual gay characters are portrayed. So far, unless I’m forgetting someone, we only have Lafayette, the jack-of-all-trades of Bon Temps. Lafayette is a very positive character who, as far as I can tell, doesn’t conform to many gay stereotypes. He’s beautiful and wears makeup, but he’s also heavily muscled. He works as a cook, but also as a construction worker and a stripper (not to mention a drug dealer, specifically of V (Vampire Blood), hence his relationship with Eddie). Lafayette is definitely the object of prejudice, but he’s not a victim: when some good ol’ boys say they won’t eat food prepared by him because they are afraid of AIDS, Lafayette pulls out his earrings (nice touch!), storms out of the kitchen, tells them all they had to do was order the burger without AIDS, and then licks the buns of the burgers! It’s AWESOME.

Basically my assessment of True Blood is that I think the producers and writers didn’t fully think through their portrayal of gay people or the vampire=gay people allegory. I can certainly hope to be proven wrong, but that’s my assessment so far.

A lot of people get defensive because they love a show and cling on to any evidence that it’s not prejudiced in the way it seems if read right. Personally, I think it’s easier to acknowledge that art you enjoy doesn’t always live up to your beliefs.

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One Response to “Gay Vampires”

  1. Noooooooooo Godric!!! « Booze. TV. Food. How Do *You* Spend Friday Nights? Says:

    […] was also interested in the implications for True Blood’s parallel to homosexuality. Godric said a couple times that he was more evolved than other vampires, and it seems he, like […]

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