Yesterday, on the NBC soap Days of our Lives Salem’s gay couple Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis finally had sex for their first time. The love scene was tasteful, but it wasn’t as progressive as I thought it should be. I commend NBC, for allowing two gorgeous young gay male characters to be able to have a mature gay relationship which does involve sex. The after glow scene is excellent, Will and Sonny are clearly naked under the sheets discussing the first time together. However, I am disappointed that Greg Meng, an openly gay man and executive producer of Days of our Lives did not have the courage to allow the writers to write a scene with Sonny and Will discuss safer sex.
After all, the character Sonny admits to Will in a coffee house scene he’s had sex with men since he returned to Salem. HIV & AIDS is a serious concern in the gay male community and according to the Center for Disease Control website gay men are still getting infected with HIV at an alarming rate. Now, a counter argument is, Days of our Lives is on daytime television, it is a soap not real life and is just fantasy, just entertainment a way to escape from the real world. My concern is, for some fans of Days of our Lives they don’t want to see a conflation of the real world problems with their fantasy. I imagine for some heterosexual and gay viewers introducing a condom in a gay love scene is “too real” and “too gay” to wrap their minds around it. It would also mean a realization that gay men do indeed have sex. There still seems to be some anxieties about allowing gay men to have a realistic homosexual relationship on television.
On another American soap, One Life To Live three years ago the gay storyline was more progressive Kyle and Oliver did discuss safer sex and condom use. Kyle gave a speech about how much he loved Oliver and he wanted him to enjoy their first time together. Kyle also told Oliver that using protection was an example of showing him how much he loved and cared for his lover. Now why couldn’t Days of our Lives have done something similar and discuss condom use?
Another argument is, the heterosexual characters don’t use condoms on Days of our Lives so neither should the gays. The assumption is, Will and Sonny barebacked they did not practice safer sex since condom use was not discussed. What kind of message is Greg Meng and NBC sending to gay men? However, how many opportunities are Sonny and Will realistically going to have sex on daytime television? Let’s be honest here, this might be the ONLY TIME Will and Sonny are going to have sex on screen. It was a huge opportunity for Greg Meng and NBC to discuss HIV & AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and safer sex.
I believe Greg Meng and the writers of Days of our Lives should have written a scene with Sonny and Will discussing safer sex and using a condom. Television is a powerful medium, it can be used to educate people. Soap Operas have a tradition of actually breaking down barriers in relation to taboo subjects that Prime Time television tends to ignore. Days of our Lives can reach a lot of gay men who watch the show and a simple reminder about condom use can send a message that safer sex is important.
Another point to consider is, I think the reason Days of our Lives ignored the discussion about HIV & AIDS is because it would be too real for the conservative viewers. The gay love scene seemed a bit chaste to me, I am kind of disappointed to be honest, I thought Will and Sonny’s first time together would be more passionate and erotic. There still seems to be a double standard for gay male characters on television. Gay men are still treated like second class citizens on television they can be funny, attractive, but they aren’t allowed to be able to express their homosexuality and have passionate sex. Now, I am not arguing Days of our Lives love scene with Sonny & Will needed to be gay porn.
However, I do believe given the fact the heterosexual characters Gabi Hernandez and Nick Fallon had several love scenes under the sheets passionately making out there is a clear double standard. It is disappointing, in the year 2012, that gay male characters are not treated exactly like heterosexual characters on television. Even though, I am a bit disappointed, I acknowledge that Days of our Lives has indeed done a good job with the gay storyline. Will and Sonny are allowed to kiss, to hug, to even have sex which is indeed progressive compared to other shows like Modern Family on ABC or Glee on Fox with their gay male characters. I think NBC is fearful of upsetting the homophobic straight conservative viewers. If you visit Days of our Lives Facebook page there are so many hateful homophobic people that are outraged about Sonny and Will’s gay romance.
Chandler Massey and Freddie Smith are doing an excellent job with the gay storyline. Some fans complained on the internet that Chandler appears too nervous, and awkward kissing Freddie. I think Chandler’s kissing has improved and I see the chemistry between the two actors I still feel that Freddie is more natural and comfortable than Chandler with kissing other men on screen. I still believe in the gay storyline on Days of our Lives and I hope the writing is a bit more realistic and more passionate in the future.