St. Patty's Gay!
By Ronni Radner
Face it, my GLBT friends: Most of our favorite two-dimensional characters on TV and the big screen haven't exactly been forthcoming when it comes to matters of sexual orientation. Sure, we've speculated about what really goes on in the boudoirs of animated stars like SpongeBob SquarePants, Peppermint Patty, Velma, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, and even Mickey Mouse (Minnie would make a great beard), but it seems nobody in Toon Town ever comes out and makes a definitive statement regarding their sexuality.
That all changed on Sunday, February 20, 2005, on an episode of Matt Groening's brilliant, long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons. In the past, the show featured cameos by such queer favorites as John Waters and Harvey Fierstein. And viewers have always been tickled lavender by the thinly veiled homo innuendo coming from the mouth of sycophantic, boss-lovin' Waylon Smithers. But finally a regular character pulled an Ellen and proclaimed her love of the same sex in front of millions of TV watchers the world over. We watched Marge Simpson's hairy-legged, chain-smoking sister Patty (the brazen twin without the parted hair) declare proudly to the world, 'I like girls!'
In the episode, the fictional city of Springfield legalizes same-sex marriage in an effort to boost the local economy with queer tourist dollars. Since Reverend Lovejoy at the local church refuses to officiate gay marriage ceremonies, opportunistic oaf Homer Simpson is ordained as a minister via the Internet and figures he can cash in as a same-sex matrimony maker. Springfield's GLBT residents and a plethora of tourists show up in droves at the Simpsons' Evergreen Terrace home to make their unions official (and our Burns-pining pal, Smithers, is conspicuously absent).
We then learn that Patty Bouvier'who has never shown interest in any man beyond Richard Dean Anderson of her favorite show, MacGyver'wants Homer to perform a wedding ceremony for her. Unlike her twin, Selma, Patty's never been married to one of Springfield's many male losers. And frequent watchers of The Simpsons know that Patty was seen at the Springfield burlesque house the Maison Derriere back in the day. Patty pays a visit to her sister Marge with her new girlfriend, Veronica, in tow, a butchy, mulleted pro golfer whom Patty met at a ladies' golfing tournament sponsored by Ritz Bits snack crackers. Marge, who fully supported the city's same-sex'marriage ordinance, is then faced with the fact that her sister is gay, and she is forced to confront homosexuality as a family issue rather than as simply a civil rights issue.
Initially, Marge is a bit shocked by the news of her sister's Sapphic inclinations, but she admits the signs of Patty's lesbianism were always there. Patty detects Marge's discomfort and becomes upset with her blue-beehive'sporting sister, announcing that she is going to go through with the marriage with or without Marge's approval. Of course, Patty is unaware that her caddy-shackin' galpal is actually a sort-of golf-world Yentl, a man disguised as a dyke to further his golf career. On Patty's wedding day, Marge shows up to the wedding and declares to Patty and the wedding invitees that the apple of Patty's eye unfortunately has an Adam's apple. Thankfully, Patty dumps the duplicitous golf pro because, as a lesbian, she 'likes girls,' and, we gather, girl parts. So, poor Patty doesn't get her joyous wedding day, but she does stick to her guns, and since the wedding is called off, it means she'll be spending as much quality time as ever with her needy, fellow chain-smoking twin, Selma.
Kudos to The Simpsons creator Matt Groening for this ballsy bit of network TV that thankfully avoided preachiness or mentions of 'lifestyle choices.' Now, when is King of the Hill's spitfire Peggy Hill gonna cheat on Hank and have a cameo as Patty's new femme love? Stay tooned.