This Week's Guest: Steven Rowley
When it comes to costumes, some of us have a greater-than-average appreciation for layering. My guest this week is writer Steven Rowley, whose debut novel Lily and the Octopus is touching and familiar and funny. It is also one of the gayest stories he's ever told, after a career spent in what was a sort of disguise, writing rom-coms about heterosexual relationships. But by the time his deeply personal book was complete he knew that he was done de-gaying his stories. So he told his publisher as much, unsure how they'd respond.
This Week's Recommendation: Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride
Thanks again to Steven, and don't forget to check out his book Lily and the Octopus. Or my book, Defining Marriage. Just the thing for the readers in your life.
I also highly recommend following Steven and Byron's dog Tilda on Instagram -- her handle is tildaswintondog, all one word.
I am delighted to be talking about dogs because they are the best. Humans are fine, I guess, but it's our animal friends help us to be our best selves. For my recommendation this week, take a look at the strangely beautiful South Park episode Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride, in which Stan worries that there's something wrong with his dog because he's gay.
The episode is notable for various reasons, among them its Emmy and GLAAD Award nominations. Given the time that it came out -- 1997 -- it's a remarkably affectionate and empathetic portrayal of gay characters. It might have been challenging to talk about homosexual people on TV at the time but you could talk about homosexual animals.
Ironically, Ellen's sitcom was cancelled a few months after this episode aired. She had just come out in an hourlong special called "The Puppy Episode," so named because a producer suggested that she get a dog instead of pursuing romantic interests.
Anyway, the South Park episode concludes on a 100% optimistic note about human compassion and our ability to see the good in each other, which is not bad for a raunchy cartoon. And it might be tempting to credit the writers or the animators or the actors for this lovely piece of television history, but I think that overlooks the true heros: dogs. So, thank you, dogs, for this episode of South Park. It may help us all be better people. But we'll never be as good as dogs.