For 24 years,“The Simpsons” has provided generations of fans across the globe with laughs and inspired today’s latest crop of primetime cartoons. The cartoon, a new study claims, that the series has had an even bigger impact on gay men as it suggests “The Simpsons” helps gay men to come out of the closet.
According to The Local, the study, which is featured in the book, Behind the Gay Laughter: Homosexuality in “The Simpsons,” was conducted by German librarian Erwin In het Panhuis.
In the study, In het Panhuis analyzed 490 gay scenes and over 70 homosexual characters which have appeared in the show and explains that by including gay characters and scenarios in the show, “The Simpsons” has worked to combat homophobia and shifted the way viewers see the LGBT community.
In het Panhuis cites characters like Smithers, whose unrequited love for Mr. Burns has been a central theme to the show for years and has been explored with both depth and humor.
Other notable gay characters include, Marge Simpson’s sister, Patty. And it’s been hinted that BFFs Lenny and Carl are gay, but have yet to accept their feelings for each other.
Despite the fact that “The Simpsons” runs on Fox, which has historically been conservative, the show has explored complex realms of LGBT life and has even had one of its main characters, Homer Simpson, kiss other men on numerous occasions.
“Homer has kissed other men on the lips more than 50 times throughout the series but despite that he’ s happily married to his wife,” In het Panhuis said. “Homer is sometimes heterosexual, sometimes gay and sometimes homophobic.”
Before the nation began its latest and most successful campaign for same-sex marriage, “The Simpsons” was the first cartoon to dedicate an entire episode to same-sex marriage.
In the 2004 book Leaving Springfield: The Simpsons and the Possibilities of Oppositional Culture, series creator Matt Groening bemoaned society’s homophobi and pop culture’s lack of gay characters. “Gay men are starved for positive portrayals of lasting love,” he said.
“They have set standards for many other animated series that followed,” In het Panhuis told Germans newspaper Süddeutschen, according to a translation from the Huffington Post, “and I believe that they also always wanted to be pioneers.”
View other thought-provoking gay cartoons below. – nicholas robinson