Straightwashing 101: Gay Teacher Who Inspired TV Series ‘Rise’ Portrayed As Hetero


Everyone’s creative process is different, so it’s difficult to set definitive ground rules for creative people when producing a piece of art (other than, like, don’t murder anybody), but there’s one thing that should be crystal clear: If you don’t connect with a story, then maybe don’t tell it.

Of course, you probably already knew that from those times in elementary school when your teacher was too hungover during Morning Reading Hour to make even The Magic School Bus sound interesting. But it doesn’t sound like NBC got that same memo.

Instead of allowing a gay man to run its show, Rise, which is based on a true story about a closeted gay man leading a high school theater troupe, NBC has handed the show to a straight man, Friday Night Lights creator Jason Katims. Moreover, NBC is allowing Katims to completely erase the main character’s sexual orientation.

Rosie Perez and Josh Radnor in “Rise.”

To Katims’ credit, he is changing the character’s orientation so he can “connect with the story,” which suggests that he’s aware he hasn’t earned the right to tell a gay man’s story.

BUT … Katims could have also told NBC, “No thanks, please give this story to an actual gay person.” But then, of course, he’d be turning down a big fat paycheck.

Katims claims the series, which stars Josh Radnor, Rosie Perez and Marley Shelton, will feature LGBTQ elements and will include one trans character and one character struggling with their sexuality.

Of course, maybe we’re overreacting, and Rise will still be the exact same story even with a straight person front and center. After all, straight people have the same experiences, social standing, and obstacles to happiness that queer people do, and there’s NO WAY that the actions and relationships of Rise’s main character would be affected by his experiences, social standing, and obstacles to happiness. Of course, we are kiddingGay.





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