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“Ask your dad what he thinks about How to Get Away with Murder,” my mom told me with a chuckle after Sunday dinner. Ok?

I asked him and his response was pretty pat and non-committal. “It’s ok. Too much going on. All those flashbacks. Kinda confusing.” Nothing really surprising there. Shonda Rhimes’s shows tend to have a lot going on in them. I reported back to my mom. “Oh. No. He told me there was too much ‘gay sex’ happening and he didn’t know how he felt about that.”


It’s a good thing my daddy’s not on Twitter and didn’t share his feelings with the Hollywood heavyweight because Rhimes recently went off on a tweeter who said the gay scenes in both Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder are too much and don’t add to the plot. Rhimes kept it all the way real, politely telling them off and saying ‘there are no such thing as gay scenes, just scenes with people in them.’

She then topped it all off with a ‘Bye Felicia.’ Yes, for real. Gotta love it.

Check the tweets:

Before things could get really ugly, Shonda Rhimes closed with this tweet:

Credit: ABC

Credit: ABC

“There are no gay scenes,” Rhimes writes. “There are scenes with people in them”

I appreciate that Rhimes could chide the viewer, but still come from a place of love and respect. Tolerance with people who don’t seem tolerant is a difficult thing to practice. I get Rhimes’s point of view. Times are a-changing. The fight for marriage equality is very much happening across this nation. People within the LGBTQ community (and their allies) are doing the damned thing in terms of changing the narrative and increasing their presence in various aspects of society (television and film included), in an attempt to normalize themselves and their experiences within the dominant heterosexual society.

Because their existence is normal. Always has been.

I watched Thursday’s episode of How to Get Away with Murder and when the one male character said something along the lines of, “He did this thing with my ass that made my eyes water,” even I was like oh my. I knew it would be too much for some people. But I  also wonder if people’s discomfort and displeasure with watching male characters be intimate with one another is part of the tired and true feeling of – we don’t want to watch two men kissing. But two women getting it on? Yes, bring it on please. Cause that’s not really, “gay gay.” No, it’s hot and steamy. I am a huge fan of The Good Wife and one of the main characters, Kalinda, has kissed many a female counterpart. I don’t recall hearing any outrage or how that disturbs the plot.

Another question is what do people expect from network television? Is it too much for two male characters to kiss and have intense sexually charged scenes on an ABC prime time show? Do people think that’s more suitable for cable? Or would people still complain? Or do people just not want to see gay people living their lives on television (all aspects of their lives) like “normal” straight people. And love, sex, and relationships are all normal occurrences for gay people.

But we know that. Maybe people just want to know it intuitively and not for sure. My father (a Baby Boomer) will probably continue to watch How to Get Away with Murder (please believe he was waiting for those nine words from Viola Davis) and he might remain uncomfortable with the scenes. Or he might not.

That is the power of the television, of any artistic medium really, the ability to put a humanity on things other folks want to declare ‘wrong’ or ”different.” Same could be said years ago when they put interracial couples on television. Kudos to Shonda Rhimes and other television and film creators, producers, writers, and actors for continuing to push the envelope to bring forth not just new content, but new images and ways we can see the world. It’s bold, it’s scary, but it’s necessary work that advances all of us in society.

What do you think of the sex scenes that just happened to have two men on Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder?

Diana Veiga is a Spelman woman, a DC resident, and a freelance writer. Of course, she’s also on Twitter.


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