LGBTQ Representation on Law and Order SVU Within the Current Main Cast
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For 19 years, Law and Order: SVU has been a voice for many sexual assault and rape survivors who feel empowered by seeing their stories told on the show. It has been show that takes pride in progressive storytelling about our current political and social climate. With regard to LGBTQ issues, however, it is behind in terms of featuring the elements of the conversation revolving around LGBTQ stories told through the eyes of a hero.
As of now, there has been only one main character that has come out as gay. This character, Dr. George Huang (played by BD Wong) is no longer on the show, and moreover no story line was formulated to explore the conversation of LGBTQ issues during his time on SVU. The only other cast member who has come out is Detective Tutuola's son, Ken Randall (played by Ernest Waddell). However his presence on the show has been lacking and because he is not in the main cast nor is he even in the law enforcement profession, his character is not integral to the overall story lines featured on SVU and therefore could not adequately contribute to the conversation of LGBTQ issues on a regular basis.
Being that this show has been given many accolades throughout it's almost 20 year run for their tenacity in telling hard stories, and progressive conversation, many believe it is past time that one of the main cast members currently on the show come out as LGBTQ, especially since there has already been established a basis for this development with any given current main character.
The following are just two examples of the aforementioned groundwork for the development of a current main cast member coming out as LGBTQ:
Olivia Benson is at a point in her character arc where she has had difficult and often times complicated romantic relationships with men. There are any number of women in real life that have had relationships with men and who come to realize their attraction to women later in life. Olivia's sexuality was briefly explored in episode 13 of season 11, where she asks her partner, Detective Stabler, whether he "ever gets a gay vibe from her." He then points out that her relationships with men have always been brief and often times problematic, and that the most serious relationship she'd had up to that point was with him as her partner. Additionally, a solid argument can be made for the relationship development between Olivia Benson and ADA Alex Cabot in the early seasons of the show reading as a romantic connection, though no such advances were made at the time.
Another example of a character who has had the groundwork already laid for an LGBTQ identity is Sonny Carisi. Over the course of his arc, the audience has seen this character grow in a way that suggests he may be questioning his sexual identity. As a character who grew up as and still is a devout Catholic, this would serve as an incredible opportunity for exploring the conversation surrounding the LGBTQ community and religion. Specifically in episode 18 of season 17, one scene features Sonny Carisi speaking with a priest, who struggles with his homosexual identity and how it conflicts with the expectations placed upon him by the Catholic church. In this scene, Detective Carisi indirectly admits that he too has struggled with his sexual identity, however this subject has yet to again be addressed or explored further in any way.
When this show premiered in 1999, there was a genuine concern as to whether it's audience would accept an LGBTQ main character. As of now, in 2018, there is an overwhelming amount of support for a main, current cast member to come out as LGBTQ. Those of us that have watched this show for years, and even those who began watching the show more recently are longing to see a character whom they already see as a hero come out as LGBTQ. We want to see our stories told, and believe it just as important as the survivor stories that are told every week on SVU. Below you will find a link to a twitter thread where people have expressed their desire for this change within the brigade of characters.
Given that the actors themselves, both past and present, also believe this to be an important element, and have expressed their own support for such a change, it is unclear as to what is taking so long to implement this development.
For a show that has reoccurring themes of empathy, acceptance, tolerance and equality, it makes perfect sense to have a current main cast member become a representative of the LGBTQ community.
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