Exclusive NYPD Blue's New Gay Character
By Peter Davis
In this Out.com exclusive, we talk with actor Currie Graham about new revelations about his character on ABC's NYPD Blue.
Your character, Lieutenant Thomas Bale, on NYPD Blue is revealed to be gay on episode 11 airing December 14th. Tell me about Bale. How is he found out to be gay?
Graham: Bale was a detective in Internal Affairs. He has spent his time investigating other cops. He's been sent to this precinct to clean things up and take control of the squad. Bale is hyper-controlling, very tough, very by the book. Detective Sipowicz [Dennis Franz] and I have a very volatile relationship.
There is this guy who has been casing bars where closeted gay men go to hang out. These men are married or in a position of power and they don't want anyone to know they are gay. This guy waits outside for them, then jumps them and robs them. Because they don't want anything to come out, they don't go to the police. Eventually, they do find this guy. In his freezer, Sipowicz finds a stack of credit cards and in these cards is Lt. Bale's credit card.
Does Sipowicz threaten to out Bale?
Sipowicz tells no one. He's keeping his mouth shut. It's not used by him as a power play over Bale. It's an evolution of Sipowicz's character'to show that he's completely fine with it. I like that story line, because it shows that Bale and Sipowicz can still go head to head. It's a non-issue, which is cool. You have a man, Bale, who is in a position of power who can express his sexual orientation however he wants.
Were you told before you took the role that Bale would turn out to be gay?
I did not know at all. I didn't even find out about it that far ahead of time. I was surprised. You never know what direction they are going to go with things on this show. You could end up naked in bed.
Has your character being gay changed the way you see him in the show now?
I didn't change the character at all. It certainly gave me another color to work with, and still have an edge to play this guy.
You're straight in real life. Have you played a gay character before?
I played a doctor who was gay on a series that was short lived. Playing a gay character has nothing to do with a stereotype. Bale is one of the toughest guys I've played. He can cut it to the quick. His sexual orientation has nothing to do with the job he does.
Were you ever hesitant about playing a gay character?
My only hesitation [was making sure it was] going to be done in a positive way as opposed to the stereotype.
How do you think viewers will react to Bale being gay?
Our viewership is a little blue-collar. It will be good for audiences to see. Perhaps society is getting to that point where it doesn't matter.
I bet you get a lot of letters, both positive and negative.
When Bale first hit the airwaves, there was a lot of mail and online stuff about how much people hated me because I was tough and mean to the cops. [Laughs] With this, I expect there will be a lot of response from viewers. Good and bad. As long as you're feeling something, that's great.
We will have another exclusive interview with Graham in the February issue of Out.