Friday, August 28, 2009

The Light at the End

Now that the last episode of Guiding Light on CBS is drawing near I see a rising chorus of "they should not have bothered" to even tell the story of Otalia because they didn't see all they wanted to see. So much anger before knowing who it is that limited the story and who they were trying to please. Claims that this couple was never seen as sexual in any way.

Yet so far we've heard Frank, Rafe, Blake & Josh all assuming that Olivia and Natalia have been sexually active all along. We've seen Olivia's desire, and although some would say we never saw it from Natalia we certainly saw it this week. Oh, and there was that time they talked about the fact that they both want it to happen.

I can't even begin to understand the "shouldn't have bothered" point of view though all that matters is the end of the story.

Over the past few months I saw scenes that were brilliantly written and beautifully played by two of the most talented actresses I've ever had the privilege to watch. Everything from silly humor to life-changing heartbreak and angst and the promise of hope for something better yet to come.

Story-wise, I saw a woman who was once the town pariah finding that she had friends who reached out to her in her time of grief. A woman who thought she'd never find love was transformed by it. A woman of faith was not depicted as a complete idiot or a judgemental fool but as someone who sincerely sought to know God and His truth and live accordingly. I saw that love transforms people and those who have lost hope can find it again.

That was worth tuning in for. I'm glad they told this story. Glad that I saw the people of Springfield encouraging this relationship of two women in love. Okay, maybe not all of the people of Springfield, but even one would have been more than most other shows on daytime have given us.

It would have been wonderful to have seen this show stay on the air at least for another year or two so we could see their story unfold more completely. (Not just their story, but all the others, too) Just because that didn't happen, I'm not going to claim that nothing good came from this story. I truly believe that one reason this story was put on air was to try to reach the minds and hearts of the general audience, those who do not support same sex relationships. And I know it has worked for some. Who knows how many votes may have been changed, how many families reunited, how many people find their own personal peace in part because of the way this story played out on screen, just the way it was.


  1. "Who knows how many votes may have been changed, how many families reunited, how many people find their own personal peace in part because of the way this story played out on screen, just the way it was."

    Absolute goosebumps. The lives this story has affected already are countless and definitely valid. Thank you for expressing this so eloquently!

  2. I learned that falling in love with another woman causes little else but pain apparently. And confusion. And anger. I learned most people in town will think one woman in a
    "couple" is a predator and the other a weakling. I learned that apparently even the most sexually mature woman would be willing to be celibate for life just to be together with her honey. I learned that a single mom can't raise a male child well; he needs a male mentor. I learned that woman seem happiest when they bake a lot and devote their lives to babies/children. I learned that months of homophobic behavior need never be addressed because a boy can just join the army and become a man (though his hormonal, hysterical mother just can't understand the need of males to protect.)

    I did indeed learn a lot from GL. Especially how important biological fathers are and that being a Good Man is the highest compliment to be had. At least I was hit over the head with those ideas/words so many, many times it must be true.

    Did Otalia advance the LGBT cause with some people? Probably. Did it vomit forth insidious misogyny and homophobia that caused harm with other less educated folk? Equally as probable in my opinion. Maybe it is a wash but I'll never be convinced that those in charge deserve my simpering thanks for the exploitation. Screwed without a kiss indeed!

  3. Thank you for your comment. I know there are many different perspectives on this storyline. The more discussion, the better, I believe.

    A friend of mine writes a blog that touches of some of the things you've mentioned. I encourage you to read this entry in particular...and all the others after it, too:

  4. Hi Donna! It's the other Donna from the BAM Board and the BPD Board! I am checking out your blog for Otalia-related posts, and just had to comment on this post and bradamantknight's comment.

    This is a really good example of the many times where I have read something and thought, "I agree with that!" and then read a completely opposing view and thought, "I agree with that too!" I am trying to figure out how that is possible, and perhaps I will comment further later, but for now I just want to say that you BOTH make outstanding points about the strengths and failures of this storyline!

    I guess why I am impressed with the story is that I try to view it not from my own perspective, but from that of an audience who basically IS patriarchal, patriotic, conservative, and very traditional in their views of gender roles, etc. Folks like that can't be moved from point A to point X. They can't be made to embrace an entirely different paradigm about gender, militarism, and other issues that for ME, and for many others, is part of a whole shift to thinking outside the testosterone-dominated box. To move such an audience even from Point A to Point B is still progress. Let's face it.... soaps were created to appeal to stay-at-home moms, whose world DID revolve around raising children, baking cookies, and being good wives and homemakers.

    Now society is changing, and the complete acceptance of GLBT people into mainstream society is a generational thing. I've seen so much change in my lifetime that I now fully believe I will see same-sex marriage in the U.S. in MY lifetime. That is something I could NEVER have even considered when I was a child/teenager in the '60s & '70s or even the 80s!!

    But what happened 15 or more years ago in Northern Virginia (a girl taking her girlfriend to the prom) and is now commonplace in many urban areas is still controversial enough in Mississippi that the School Board cancels the Prom!! What I am saying is that there is a LAG TIME as rural areas, the South, and other conservative strongholds that tend to drag their feet about ANY progressive change begin to face LGBT people & issues in their own communities! As more & more people come out in increasingly conservative communities (geographically, yes, but also demographically), then the people WITHIN those more conservative communities are forced to re-evaluate their prejudices toward LGBT people, and are brought along in the movement toward full equality of LGBT citizens. When people like country music singer Chely Wright and contemporary Christian singer/songwriters Ray Boltz and Jennifer Knapp come out, they have much greater impact than, say, Ricky Martin or Lady Gaga!)

    So, yeah, the male-centeredness of the Otalia story was gag-worthy TO ME. But *I* don't need to be moved from Point A to Point B. I'm *already* at Point X, so while it's obnoxious to me to see many of the things bradamantknight pointed out, it helped to make a same-sex couple seem not so bad to maybe thousands of viewers who would never have supported them if their story had come with the demand to completely shift their male-centered paradigm. This is a really good discussion. Did you ever post this on the BPD board?

  5. I never posted this particular article on the BPD (at least I don't recall ever doing that) but I did express this point of view in some threads on that message board.