Sep 15, 2016

The Homophobia of "American Horror Story," Season Five

I've been watching American Horror Story since the beginning.  The anthology series, using a troop of actors to play different characters in different historical settings, has always had a strong gay presence.

In Season 5, however, I have to wonder where the gay characters are.

There are queer characters.  Lots of bisexual hanky-panky.  But gay -- characters interested only in their own sex, establishing only same-sex relationships.

There aren't any.  The show goes out of its way to tell us that, over and over again.

The setting: The Cortez Hotel, a fading icon of art deco glamor in downtown Los Angeles, where the Countess (Lady Gaga) holds court in a world of ghosts, vampires, and boy toys.  The boys are so identical that even I, an expert on male beauty, had difficulty telling them apart.

But one thing is certain: none of them are gay.

1. Donovan (Matt Bomer, who is gay in real life): a heroin addict who was vampirized by the Countess 20 years ago.  He became her main squeeze.  When she rejects him for newcomer Tristan, he formulates a revenge plan.  "Not gay."

2. Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock), a male model who flirts with men to get what he wants, but repeatedly announces that he is "not gay."

He falls in love with the pre-op transgender Liz Taylor, but she re-iterates that their relationship is heterosexual: "I'm not gay.  You're not gay for being with me.  I'm a heterosexual woman.  Thank you for seeing my femininity."

3. Rudolph Valentino (also Finn Wittrock), the legendary screen star, vampirized in 1926, and then trapped inside an abandoned wing in the Cortez Hotel for 89 years.  Heterosexual, although he experiences a symbolic "seduction" by F.W. Murnaw (the director of Nosferatu).

4.Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson),  the new owner of the Cortez Hotel, who seems to be gay by default: he likes women, but he never can perform adequately when in bed with one (his son must be adopted).  But the Countess clears up his sexual inadequacy, and he begins announcing that he is bisexual.

5. James Patrick March (Evan Peters), the extremely effeminate, cultured, aristocratic ghost of the serial killer who originally built the Cortez Hotel as his private playground.  Kills men and women indiscriminately, but is only sexually involved with women, and seems rather homophobic.

6. Detective John Lowe (a very craggy Wes Bentley).  A "family man" haunted by the disappearance of his son.  It turns out that a pedophile didn't take him, the Countess did, to save him from his horrible home life.  John is March's protege, a heterosexual serial killer.

In fact, I can only find one actual, real, honest to goodness gay person in the cast:

The ghost of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (Seth Gabel).

Plus Gabriel (Max Greenfield), an extremely feminine heroin junkie who checks
 into the hotel room to shoot up.  He is raped by the Addiction Demon until Sally shows up and sews him into a mattress.  We're probably supposed to think of him as gay, his rape a punishment for his "sin."

So much for gay-friendly.

Well, at least it's bi- and trans-friendly.

See also: What Seth Gabel Looks Like Naked; American Horror Story: Gay World