Thomas The Gay Footman Comes Out In ‘Downton Abbey’ Season Three

Thomas Barrow, the footman-turned-valet-turned-underbutler of Downton Abbey, has been the sole gay character for the first two seasons of the series. Thomas pursued makeout seshs with several closeted visiting dignitaries in season one, but has otherwise been relegated to scheming with O’Brien and, oh, World War One. In season three, actor Robert James-Collier tells OUT magazine, he finally lets his gay flag fly. 

Author Aaron Hicklin writes:

I have it on great authority that this is the season in which that villainous gay footman-turned-valet, Thomas Barrow, experiences the tender love that his poor, neglected heart so craves and needs. It’s about time. … In season 3, we get to see Thomas outed in a powerful sequence of episodes that James-Collier considers the best acting of his career.

Thomas is outed, according to Hicklin’s piece, during a confrontation with the head butler Mr. Carson, with whom Thomas has always sought to undermine. But Downton creator Julian Fellowes infuses the moment with "dignity," supposedly, which I think means that Thomas doesn’t get the shit beaten out of him, nor is he tossed out into the Yorkshire countryside on his ass. James-Collier himself explained to the magazine:

It’s the series where we really comes to grips with Thomas’s sexuality and the impact being gay must have had on him, in Edwardian times. If you’re including a gay character, there’s an onus and responsibility to at least show what the impact of the time will be on him, and of him on that time. Thankfully we’ve done that, and I’m so proud that I’ve been used to tell that tale … If you were gay in those times, the fact that you’re even functioning, how you’re not completely fucked up by that, is beyond me.

Does this mean some hot, gay onscreen sex scenes will be in store? (FYI, James-Collier is even more easy on the eyes in real life photo shoots than he is on Downton.) One can only hope … 

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GLAAD Study: Representation Of LGBT Characters On TV Is Best Its Ever Been

Finally! Some good news! The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s annual study of LGBT characters on primetime TV is out. Gay, lesbian, bi and trans characters have been the most visible they’ve ever been.

Where We Are On TV studied characters on scripted shows on the upcoming 2012-2013 season for both network (ABC, NBC, CBS, The CW, and FOX) and mainstream cable. The numbers may not sound like much, seeing as LGBT folks represent a meager 4.4% of scripted series regulars on broadcast TV. But they are indeed the highest number ever recorded by GLAAD:  2011 saw 2.9%, 2010 saw 3.9%, 2009 saw 3%, 2008 saw 2.6%, and 2007 saw 1.1%. Put another way, compared with 2007, LGBT characters saw a 400% increase on the broadcast networks — but it’s still an unacceptably small percentage of all characters overall.  As for mainstream cable, the networks studied reached a new high of 61 LGBT characters total.

ABC and Showtime came out on top as the channels from their respective categories with the best respresentation. But FOX — yes, really, FOX — had the most inclusive show on broadcast TV because it airs Glee. Over at HBO, True Blood was the most inclusive show in mainstream cable. 

You can read the full, data-filled study in a PDF over at GLAAD’s web site, which is packed to the gills with information about ethnic/racial presentation, gender identity, LGBT people of color, and people with disabilities amongst the characters studied as well. It’s more data than your brain might want to process, but the tl;dr? Things are getting better.

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