So, I finished the story, and Stanley and Phyllis are Stanley and Phil. It's now a gay couple, but the story is no different than it would have been had they remained a hetero couple. The point is, they aren't different. It's time for LGBT characters to go mainstream.
The Southern Baptists may feel differently, and the Holy See may disagree. Too bad. They can't hold back the tide.
When Ellen came out, the news rated magazine covers. She stepped into a spotlight where she had to state that she did not want to become a spokesperson. But she was, anyway. Nowadays, the news of another celebrity being gay is usually a throw-away line, no big deal. As it should be.
So the story becomes not about being gay or about gay rights, but about being human, facing human conditions, and incidentally, being gay along the way.
Stanley and Phil face the same fate in the same way as Stanley and Phyllis would have. But now that nice old couple next door, the ones that have been together for, well, longer than most, just happens to be two men. Could just as easily be two women. Any two humans.
Neil Patrick Harris may have limited his options by telling the world he's gay, but mostly those who loved him as a performer love him more. Did he lose a few admirers? No doubt. Has it hurt him? Well, I can't speak for him, since we don't often sit down over drinks together, but I'd wager a tidy sum it has not.
So for a writer, is playing it safe, working within broadly "acceptable" boundaries to gain the widest possible audience by not offending anyone a smart idea? A look at best-seller lists would say no. Sex sells. All fifty shades of it. Serial killers, sociopaths. Children killing children.
But homosexuality being shown as a natural part of the fabric of life?
Guess what. It is. And no longer is it relegated to LGBT lit, TV or movies. What had to be front-and-center with Will and Grace has become the gay family member and her/his partner, the gay couple next door. Modern Family? American Horror Story? Gay couple neatly worked in, simply part of the whole.
No one ever made a mark by playing it safe. You can't please everyone, anyway. And "they" say, if you haven't pissed anyone off, you haven't done your job. Plenty of books, stories, and movies play to kids or "wholesome" families, and carefully do NOT anger anyone. But Harry Potter was condemned for promoting the occult, Hunger Games for the hideous idea of kids being pitted against each other to the death for society's amusement (although often it seems we're not far from that now.)
So I'm taking a stand for risk. And if I piss off some, so be it. I probably wouldn't want to have drinks with them anyway, or they with me.
So who'll join me for a martini, a beer, a sweet tea (ugh)?