The Advocate ran a story a few months back about the character of Justin Suarez on Ugly Betty. The article quoted AfterElton editor Michael Jensen, taking ABC to task for not labeling the character as gay.
"By not saying one way or the other if Justin is gay," Jensen says, "they’re either communicating that there’s something wrong or shameful about being gay …. Americans need to acknowledge there are gay 11- and 12-year-olds in society."
Excuse me? There may certainly be gay 11- and 12-year-olds out there, but they are not everywhere. And I’m wondering if Jensen’s statement would be rendered more accurate by saying there are gay white 11- and 12-year-olds in society.
Perhaps Jensen doesn’t remember being 12 years old. That’s the no man’s land of child development, a period of time when you’re not a child but you’re not a teenager either. As worldly as young people are these days, I can’t buy into the notion that sex isn’t still an abstract idea at that age.
I find it far more realistic that Justin doesn’t know his orientation yet. Men think of sex all the time. Boys don’t, despite how much they protest otherwise. And Justin is still a boy. When he turns 14, maybe he’ll have cock on his mind a lot more.
Justin is also a member of a Latino family. I’m Filipino, but if there’s something Latinos and Filipinos share, it’s a devoted practice of Catholicism. The real-life Justins of the world know better than to announce that kind of self-identification at that stage of their lives, even if their families would end being as supportive as the fictional Suarezes.
Jensen shows a gay white male political perspective in his analysis of Justin’s character. I like a good story that’s believable, and forcing a fictional character out of the closet to appease some kind of political correctness is, well, crude.