Even in an apocalypse, gays still struggle for rights

The controversy surrounding “The Walking Dead” and its plan to introduce a gay character is nothing more than hot air

Geoffrey Young, Columnist

You would’ve thought the sky was falling with the reaction that ensued once news broke that a gay character is set to star in AMC’s hit show “The Walking Dead.” Having only seen one season, I can proudly say I didn’t tune out for the wrong reasons. But the number of so many confused and angry responses to the network’s announcement poses an interesting question; will the inclusion of an openly gay character in a program effect its ratings and does a fictional character’s sexual orientation even matter?

Sexual orientation really isn’t that important when more pressing things like foraging for food and killing zombies are at hand. Whoever the protagonist may be sexually attracted too doesn’t change the overall plot of the story. A show about surviving in a zombie apocalypse is still about, you know, surviving in a zombie apocalypse regardless of who the character decides to slaughter zombies with.

Mario, of “Super Mario Bros,” still saves the Mushroom Kingdom from the evil Koopas even if Princess Toadstool is a Prince. Even better: the pink, bowtie-wearing, egg-shooting, prevalent baddie ‘Birdo’ in “Super Mario Bros. 2,” is actually a confirmed transvestite. According to the game’s original booklet, “Birdo thinks he is a girl and likes to be called ‘Birdetta.’ He likes to wear a bow on his head and shoot eggs from his mouth.”

However, the AMC controversy still befuddles. To think a fictional character’s sexual orientation could be the deciding factor in a show’s longevity is a joke. It would be like a segment of the population refusing to watch “The Price is Right” because Drew Carey is right-handed.

The issue doesn’t lie in media and the insertion of those from the LGBT community, but rather the nation’s current stance on gay rights. Homosexuals have long been prevalent in pop-culture and media, ranging from performers like Sir Elton John and Freddie Mercury to media personalities like comedienne Ellen Degeneres and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

So what’s the big deal here?

Gay rights have come a long way in the last couple years. However, there are still pockets of individuals who feel it is their duty to dictate who it is appropriate to love. Ironically enough, most people that hold these values generally belong to a political party that emphases “individual rights” and disapproval of a “nanny state.”

Presumably, a good handful of members from this party were in attendance for the 2011 presidential debate, in which former presidential candidate Rick Santorum was asked to answer a video question from a gay Iraqi war veteran. The veteran asked, “In 2010 when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was, because I’m a gay soldier and I didn’t want to lose my job,[…] My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”

The crowd made their feelings heard by showering the solider with a chorus of hearty boos that can be heard at the conclusion of the video. Thought Santorum swore that he did not hear the reaction, it helps highlight just how far the nation still has to go.

Until then, let’s keep the discrimination to a minimum. It’s a shame that even in a fictional zombie apocalypse, a few bigots manage to thrive.