Michael J. Fox, drove me up to a house in the Hollywood Hills, where there were about twenty gay men, most involved in the film industry, drinking wine, eating fancy hors d'oeuvres, and waiting until 10:00.
To watch tv.
What was all the fuss about?
Brothers (1984-89), a sitcom on the premium cable network Showtime, about three grown-up brothers who run a bar.
1. Macho ex-football player Joe (Robert Walden, left, formerly the roving reporter on Lou Grant).
3. Cliff (Paul Regina, right), who, in the first episode, dumps his fiance on his wedding day and tells his brothers that he is...gay!
A gay character on tv!
In 1984, gay characters appeared on network tv very rarely, usually in "old high school buddy comes out" episodes of sitcoms. There were no gay characters in starring roles. There were no tv series about gay people.
Cliff knows nothing about the gay world, so he and his brothers work together to explore cruising, dating and romance, gay organizations, gay rights, AIDS, and homophobia of various types. Their tour guide is Donald (Philip Charles Mackenzie), a stereotypic swishy queen who is loud and proud.
Other gay characters in the 1980s were portrayed as completely sexless, announcing that they are gay but never doing anything about it. Revolutionary again!
As the show progressed, episodes increasingly focused on non-gay topics, like machinations at the bar, Joe's dating and eventual marriage, or Lou's wife and kids, including a seminary student (John Putch) and a teenage prodigy (Yeardley Smith, later the voice of Lisa on The Simpsons).
You can watch episodes on youtube, but I don't think I will. I prefer to keep it part of my memories of those first months in West Hollywood, when everything was exciting and fresh and new.