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Favorite Gay-Oriented SNL Sketches

Saturday night live title card


I've watched Saturday Night Live off and on since its first season in 1975-76 (when I was a freshman in college). Now finishing up its 44th season, the show is approaching 1,000 telecasts - which translates into more than 10,000 comedic sketches.  Despite this huge inventory I don't recall any sketches with a gay angle until the early '90s.  What follows are nearly two dozen that I get a kick out of, the majority being from the past ten years.  Some have an out-and-out gay storyline, others have a gay sensibility to them, or a character who's gay (or seemingly gay).




From the latest season, guest host Emma Stone plays an eager actress who plays the role of jilted wife in a gay porn video.  The guy who plays her husband is a skeevy-looking character; the godson looks like Taylor Lautner (remember him?).  (Season 44, 2018-19)


Emma-Stone_SNL 2019



An established lawyer (played by Larry David) introduces colleagues from his law firm to his "gay-famous" new wife.  (Season 43, 2017-18)


Gay famous



The director of an Olive Garden commercial shoot requests a lesbian kiss between Scarlett Johansson's and Leslie Jones' characters.  (Season 42, 2016-17)





While her husband and his friends are watching the Super Bowl, oblivious to what's happening in the kitchen behind them, the sister of one of the friends (played by Kristen Stewart) seduces the dutiful wife who's preparing Totinos frozen pizzas.  (Season 42, 2016-17)


Lesbain totinos ad_snl



This sketch, featuring Scarlett Johansson and Kenan Thompson, brought us to a memorial service for a dentist who, unbeknownst to his wife, composed deep club tracks.  (Season 42, 2016-17)


Keenan thompson and scarlett johnanssen



This sketch is a tune-in promo about a reality series on Logo about lesbians and their summer share at Cherry Grove.  And it contrasts life there with life in the Pines, the high-energy gay community next door.  (Season 40, 2016-17)





Human-looking robots are introduced at a trade fair and the audience is puzzled why they've been programmed to be overtly gay (played by Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney).  (Season 42, 2016-17)





Tina Fey and Amy Poehler played two actresses who get acting directions to be more over-the-top in the their reactions to each other during a lesbian scene in a movie(Season 41, 2015-16)


Tina fey and amy poehler



A New York couple (Peter Dinklage and Aidy Bryant) take out of town friends from Columbus, OH to a trendy restaurant in the Meatpacking District that in the '70s and '80s was a seedy club whose attraction was its glory holes.  (Season 41, 2015-16)


Snl glory hole restaurant



This skit has two lesbians showing the assortment of kittens available at their shelter.  Kate McKinnon is paired with guest hosts that included Amy Adams, Charlize Theron and Tiffany Haddish.  (Season 40, 2014-15)


Whiskers r we snl with charlize theron



TV promo for the buddy cop show Dykes & Fats (Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant) that is likely a tribute to the '80s show Cagney & Lacey(Season 39, 2013-14)


Dykes and fats_snl



Kristen Wiig played the Target lady innumerable times and in this sketch she had her first encounter with a lesbian customer.  (Season 38, 2012-13)  


Target lady snl



This parody pharmaceutical ad for Xanax for Gay Summer Weddings is prescribed to heterosexuals attending weddings of gay men who become depressed thinking how uninspiring their ceremonies were compared to those of their gay friends.  The ad concludes with a disclaimer that the drug is not needed for lesbian weddings.  (Season 38, 2012-13)


Xanax for gay summer weddings



This sketch is an ad for a CD compilation of vapid club tracks, with titles such as You're on Blast and This Is My Catchphrase (Spread It). And the sales pitch is, "So if you're a gay man looking to bring something you can make fun of to a party, this is the CD for you!".  (Season 38, 2012-13)


SNL_classy sexy elegance_kristen wiig



This sketch, featuring Kristen Wiig, is included because of Liza's position as a revered gay icon.  Of course, I found it hilarious, but as I watched I noticed there wasn't a lot of laughter from the audience; this lack of appreciation was probably because it had too few gay men in it.  (Season 37, 2011-12)





A series of Vincent Price holiday specials featured a randy Liberace (played by Fred Armisen) who laced his remarks with outrageous double entendres.  And a few of these sketches had appearances by Judy Garland (played by Kristen Wiig).  (Season 36, 2010-11)


Liberace fred armisen



Fred Armisen and Bill Hader occasionally appeared on Weekend Update as two regular guys who happen to be a gay couple.  One time they were Maine fishermen, another time goombahs from NJ.  (Season 34, 2008-09)


Bill hader and fred armisen snl

Gay fishermen from maine



Jonah Hill confides to Andy Samberg that he's dating Andy's dad.  (Season 33, 2007-08)


Jonah hill and andy sambergs dad


A parody ad for Homocil pitched a drug for easing parental anxiety disorder when they're confronted with the reality that their child is gay.  (Season 26, 2000-01)


Homocil for parents_snl



The Ambiguously Gay Duo, from the early 2000s, was a cartoon about two superheroes (voiced by Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert).





This commercial parody from the early 1990s for Schmitts Gay Beer had Adam Sandler and Chris Farley surrounded by Speedo-clad eye candy.  (Season 17, 1991-92)


Schmitts gay beer_snl



Although it was never established with certainty that he was gay, self-help coach Stuart Smalley gave off a strong gay vibe (he was portrayed by SNL writer Al Franken, well before he became a US Senator).  In his sketches from the early '90s he interacted with guest hosts, with his session with NBA legend Michael Jordan likely the best known.





From the early '90s came a spoof of a sitcom called Lyle, the Effeminate Heterosexual (Dana Carvey).  This turned the tables on the stereotypical fey gay man by ascribing those traits to a straight man (and we all have a few friends like Lyle).  (Season 17, 1991-92)


Lyle the effeminate hetero



Finally, perhaps you noticed that I didn't include Bill Hader's character Stephon as a favorite.  Although he was funny the first few times, I soon found his character tiresome, doing the same shtick (which included cracking up at what was on the cure cards) when he appeared on Weekend Updates.


Stephon snl


Renowned Greenwich Village Gay Bar Co-Stars in Movie "Can You Ever Forgive Me"?

Julius bar in can you ever forgive me


The Greenwich Village bar, Julius's, plays a prominent role in the true-life drama Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant (both received Oscar nominations for their roles).  The bar is celebrated in the annals of gay history because it's where the famed 'Sip-In' took place in 1966 (three years before the Stonewall riot).  Throughout the movie Julius is where the main characters confide, plot and ultimately reconcile.  In total I'd say the bar has at least 15 minutes of screen time.  (Besides the bar, regular appearances are also made by a cat and a manual typewriter.)  Perhaps Hollywood might consider honoring Julius with a special Oscar for best use of a bar in a movie (after all, Judi Dench got an Oscar for less time on screen in Shakespeare in Love!). 


McCarthy and Grant play gay characters - biographer Lee Israel, and aging hustler/party-boy Jack.  And while the movie wasn't promoted as a "LGBT film", there is a steady amount of understated same-sex moments interspersed throughout the story.  For instance, Lee has a flirtation with a female bookstore owner and has a meeting with her ex, while Jack has a dalliance with a flirtatious waiter.  In addition, two other male characters who work at vintage bookstores give off a definite gay vibe (one of them is played by Stephen Spinella).  And AIDS rears its ugly head.  Although the movie is depressing, with shadowy interiors, gray skies and revelations about personal dysfunction, I enjoyed it a lot; Lee and Jack are two great character studies.


Can you ever forgive me


Now, back to Julius.  Located at the corner of Waverly Place and W. 10th St., it's a few minutes from my apartment as well as the Stonewall Inn and the Monster.  If I'm going to a bar the Monster is where I tend to go because it's just down the street from where I live (I've been known to run there without a coat in the wintertime) and it's much more spacious compared to Julius , so I can walk around its two levels and not feel conspicuous if I'm there alone.  Despite not going there all that often, Julius has a friendlier vibe (including the bartenders) and the drinks are cheaper.  (Although it's famed for its burgers I've never had one.)


Julius bar exterior


Finally, besides its role in this film, Julius appeared in another movie I've seen, 2014's  Love is Strange (starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a gay couple).  But there was just one scene filmed there (pictured below).  Thinking back to all the gay-themed movies I've seen (more than 100) I can recall just one other that had a scene in gay bar in New York.  It was 1999's Trick, and the main characters have an encounter with Miss Coco Peru, who offers advice while powdering her nose in the bathroom at the club Twirl that used to be on W. 23rd St.





Demi Lovato's Song "Cool For the Summer" - How Did I Miss Its Sapphic Message?

TwowomenIt turns out that one of my favorite songs of 2015, Demi Lovato's Cool For the Summer, had a bi-curious/lesbian theme that I was oblivious to.  I discovered this upon reading Entertainment Weekly's end-of-year review, months after the song was released (the magazine chose it as one of the top 10 singles of the year).  I thought it was just a song about generic, promiscuous boy-girl sex.  One lyric, "Don't be scared 'cause I'm your body type", puzzled me because of its awkward phrasing.  My interpretation was completely different from what was intended.  It turns out that Lovato was alluding to same-sex attraction when she sang "I'm your body type", but I thought she was simply referring to the type of body that a boy gets the hots over.  After learning of the song's intended message, lyrics such as "I'm a little curious, too" and "got a taste for the cherry" took on new meaning.  I've never thought of myself as being "out of touch" but that's the phrase that immediately came to mind when I discovered the song's true message.  No matter, I still love the song.  (And it's so much better than I Kissed A Girl.)





The Surprising, Sudden Downfall of Christine Quinn




Nearly a year has passed and yet it's still hard to believe how quickly New York City politician Christine Quinn fell from her ivory tower.  During the first half of 2013 she was the clear favorite to replace Michael Bloomberg as mayor of New York.  But despite receiving countless endorsements, she steadily lost ground to underdog Bill de Blasio, and when voters pulled their levers during September's primary, she finished a distant third.  And although polls had indicated this result, they seemed too unbelievable to give them much credence.  This was the scenario of a nightmare you might expect Quinn to have had in her sleep during the campaign - but it unfolded in her waking life. 


There have been other gay politicians who have fallen, but their troubles were caused by sex scandals (e.g., Gerry Studds, Jim McGreevey, Mark Foley, Barney Frank, Sam Adams).  That wasn't the case with Quinn.  Instead, she fell out of favor because of policy matters: 1) She had a reputation for being overly deferential to real estate interests (a mini-Bloomberg); 2) She infuriated many residents of Greenwich Village for not going to bat for St. Vincent's Hospital; 3) She was instrumental in overturning term limits for the office of mayor, something voters had approved just a few years earlier, thus enabling Michael Bloomberg to run for a third term; and 4) As part of the Bloomberg administration, many voters may have wanted a clean break after 12 years.




When asked about these issues it was puzzling that Quinn didn't have good answers ready.  It suggested that her campaign staff was unconcerned about voter discontent and exemplified Quinn's imperious manner.  (Reminiscent of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.)  However, the fact that she was a lesbian didn't appear to be a big issue.  Perhaps it would have been an issue for some Republicans, but they never got the chance to vote against her in the general election.


We also discovered the limits of Neil Patrick Harris's charms as his endorsement didn't provide any boost whatsoever.  (Cynthia Nixon and Alan Cumming were two gay celebrities who supported de Blasio.)









Jane Lynch Has Breakout Role Playing a Lesbian in "Best in Show" (September 19, 2000)

Jane_lynch_bestinshowJane Lynch had many supporting TV roles throughout the 1990's, but it wasn't until she appeared in Christopher's Guest's movie Best in Show in the autumn of 2000 that she registered on my radar.  Ironically, although she didn't come out publicly until a few years ago, she played a lesbian dog trainer in the film (photographed here with Jennifer Coolidge).  At the end of the movie there's a hilarious scene where Jane's character talks about her and her partner's new publishing venture, American Bitch, a magazine that focuses on the issues of the lesbian purebred dog owner.


After Best in Show she appeared in a number of other high profile movies between 2003-2009, all which I happened to see:

  • A Mighty Wind - Another Christopher Guest film, Lynch played a reformed porn actress who became a singer in the squeaky clean folk group, the New Main Street Singers.  This is my favorite of her roles.


  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin - Here she played the cougar store manager, Paula, who was more than happy to be Steve Carell's "fuck buddy".
  • Talledega Nights - She played the upstanding Christian mother of Will Farrell's race car driver character, Ricky Bobby.  (Virgin and Talledega Nights both grossed more than $150 million.)
  • For Your Consideration - In a cameo role, she portrayed an all-smiles Mary Hart type on an entertainment show.  This was yet another Christopher Guest film.
  • Julie & Julia - She was delightful as the sister of Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep).


Sue_sylvester2One trait of Lynch's I love is her friendly and dazzling smile, something that's missing from her most famous role, since 2009, of the villainous Sue Sylvester on the TV show Glee.  Sue is one of those classic TV characters who's quickly embraced by viewers but then soon becomes overexposed in ensuing episodes (see also: Kramer from Seinfeld; Mimi from The Drew Carey Show; Urkel from Family Matters; and Fonzie from Happy Days).  I can't stand seeing her in that warmup suit - and with that awful scowl on her face.  


Jane_lynch_annieBy 2010 Lynch seemed to have become the new media-annointed public face of gay America (a role previously played by the likes of Harvey Fierstein, Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres).  She did some commercials, hosted the Emmy's in 2011, hosted SNL and recently finished a one-month gig on Broadway in the musical Annie, playing Miss Hannigan (and performed a number from it at this year's Tony Awards, pictured).  And this summer she's hosting the primetime game show Hollywood Game Night on NBC. 


Cher Gives Birth to Chastity Bono (March 4, 1969)

Chastity-bono-sonny_and_cher Cher was 22 years old when she gave birth to daughter Chastity on March 4, 1969.  Very few children who weren't actors (like Shirley Temple) or the offspring of presidents (e.g., Caroline and John-John Kennedy) received the amount of media attention as did Chastity Bono.  As a toddler she was carried out on stage by her parents to say good night at the end of every telecast of their CBS variety show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (which began as a summer replacement series in 1971 when Chastity was 2-1/2 years old.)   



Chastitybono Once the show went off the air in the mid-70s Chastity was able to grow up without the glare of cameras.  However, attention returned when she was a young adult.  First, she started a band named Ceremony and then she came out in the Advocate in 1995.  Her visibility took off upon becoming a guest columnist for the magazine, took a high profile positon with GLAAD and became a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. 



Chaz_bono Chazbono_dancingwiththestarsAnd then in 2009 Chastity captured more headlines by announcing that she was transitioning to a male and had her name legally changed to Chaz Bono.  A documentary about this transition, titled Becoming Chaz, premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival and in May 2011 had its TV premiere on Oprah Winfrey's new OWN cable network.  Then in the fall of 2011 Chaz was chosen to compete on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.  More recently, Chaz went on a weight loss program and slimmed down, losing nearly 50 pounds by February 2013. 


Chaz's story about coming out to his parents (about five years before his public announcement) is told in the 1998 book Family Outing while a second book The End of Innocence: A Memoir, published in 2003, talks about his band and some trying relationships.    

"Lesbian Kiss" Episode Airs on "Roseanne" (March 1, 1994)

Roseanne_lesbian_kissIn November 1992, during ABC sitcom Roseanne's fifth season, Sandra Bernhard's character Nancy was introduced as the first regularly occurring lesbian character in a TV show.  Sixteen months later on March 1, 1994 (at the end of Nielsen's February ratings "sweeps") Nancy's girlfriend Sharon, played by Mariel Hemingway, kissed Roseanne at a lesbian bar.  Roseanne went to Lanford's bar "Lips" to prove how "cool" she was; however, she became unnerved by this five-second kiss and realized that perhaps she wasn't as "hip" as she thought.  (Hemingway had also portrayed a lesbian in the 1982 movie Personal Best.)     







Same-Sex Marriage Gets Its Due on "The Simpsons" (February 20, 2005)

Pattybouvier_thesimpsons On the February 20, 2005 episode of The Simpsons (titled "There's Something About Marrying") same-sex marriage was legalized in Springfield as a way to attract tourists.  This results in Marge's sister, Patty Bouvier, coming out and announcing her intention to marry her partner Veronica, a pro golfer.  When Homer learns how much he can earn performing same-sex ceremonies he becomes a minister and marries Patty (which is ironic since Patty, as well as her twin sister Selma, have nothing but contempt for Homer).  Alas, it was later revealed that Veronica was a man.


Having same-sex marriage as a storyline on a mainstream TV show (a favorite with young men) was an important milestone in the fight for legalization of same-sex marriage.  The attendant publicity brought awareness up a few more notches - anathema to the religious right, which frets whenever gay issues gain exposure.      



Samesexmarriage_weddingrings This episode of The Simpsons aired a little more than a year after Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex unions.  And it just so happens that there is a city named Springfield in the state.  However, the show's writers have never indicated in which state their Springfield is located (there are 38 cities, towns and townships named Springfield in the U.S.).



A Lesbian Wedding on "Friends" (January 18, 1996)

Lesbian_wedding_on_friendsRoss' ex-wife Carol (pictured, far right) and her lesbian partner Susan were married on the January 18, 1996 episode of NBC's hit sitcom Friends.  And because Carol's parents refused to attend the wedding, Ross walked her down the aisle.  The ceremony was performed by Candace Gringrich (pictured, center), Newt's lesbian half-sister who rose to the periphery of celebritydom after Newt became Speaker of the House.


Surprisingly, this episode's audience was no larger than usual for the popular show nor was there much of a fuss about the episode.  Eight months later President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law.  And on January 18 of 2004 the lesbian drama The L Word debuted on Showtime. 

"The L Word" Debuts on Showtime (January 18, 2004)

Buoyed by the success of Queer as Folk (which debuted in December 2000), Showtime produced a one-hour drama about a group of lesbian friends and lovers called The L Word.  It premiered on Jan. 18, 2004.   


The_L_Word Except for their same-sex themes the two series were very different: 1) QAF took place in Rust Belt Pittsburgh while The L Word was set in sunny and trendy Los Angeles/West Hollywood; 2) The L Word had more "name" actresses: Jennifer Beals, Pam Grier, Marlee Matlin and Cybil Shepherd - QAF had one, Sharon Gless;  3) QAF had a lesbian couple (Lindsay and Melanie) but L Word incorporated very little about the lives of gay men into its storylines; and 4) The L Word ran for six seasons, one more than Queer as Folk.  However, QAF aired thirteen more episodes (83 vs. 70). 


After the series concluded in March 2009 Showtime aired a reality series that came out in the summer of 2010 called The Real L Word.