The old joke is Lifetime: Television for women….and gay men.
Maybe so, but not televison for gay characters apparently.
This week, Lifetime aired The 19th Wife, a TV movie about a man named Jordan, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church, and his efforts to help his mother, a member of a polygamous sect, accused of killing her husband.
The movie is based on a novel by David Ebershoff, but Lifetime took a little liberty with the story: in the book, Jordan is gay, and part of the novel deals with his relationship with another man. It seems that Lifetime cured Jordan of “The Gay” and made him straight.
David Ebershoof: “I had no role in the adaptation. A few weeks before filming began I learned that Jordan had been rewritten as straight. I was told that this was a network decision. Obviously I was offended, disappointed, and baffled. I hope that the movie sends people to the book so that they can meet my Jordan, along with his boyfriend, Tom, and their dogs, Elektra and Joey.”
Lifetime paints the change as no big deal: “There was a lot changed from the book and that was one of the things.”
Books are changed all the time from the page to the screen, but what was the point here? And why from a network that recently received a “good” rating in GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index, and also aired the highly-praised, Prayers for Bobby, also based on a book, about how a religious woman’s anti-gay beliefs drove her gay son to suicide.
How can the LGBT community move ahead towards acceptance when, in adaptations of books to film or stage, we are magically converted to heterosexuality?
We’re in the books.
Put us on TV!