Tuesday, August 2, 2011

True Blood’s Lafayette slays gay stereotypes

While America's fascination with all things vampire seems to be cooling off, the HBO series True Blood manages to stay fresh.
Season four of the hit series is underway with one notable wrinkle central to the series being actor Nelsan Ellis' portrayal of Lafayette Reynolds, a gay cook, prostitute and "blood" dealer. Ellis' popularity on the small screen has forced producers to keep him on the show despite the character of Lafayette being killed off at the end of the first book on which the series is inspired.
What is most interesting about Ellis' portrayal of Lafayette is its departure from the norm of how most homosexual men are usually presented to television audiences. Lafayette doesn't shy away from being flamboyant yet, his flamboyance is darkly hued and coupled with a signature strength and masculinity that shows he is unashamed of who he is but fiercely defensive of the life he lives and the people he chooses to love.
The question remains, in a world still uncomfortable discussing issues of sexual orientation in an adult way, how far does a character like Lafayette go towards changing hearts and minds on what a gay man can be on screen?

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Rachel and Rebecca said...
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Rachel and Rebecca said...

Thanks for posting this article!

LaLa is so complex and fascinating; at Dragon Con 2010 actor Nelsan Ellis gave those of us in the audience some insight into the character he so convincingly portrays; he said that when True Blood creator Alan Ball first sketched Lafayette he told him he wanted to have LaLa embody the masculine AND the feminine. Mr. Ellis said he questioned how an actor could play both at once...we consider this on our blog www.piercedpomegranate.blogspot.com in terms of how he embodies the tension between duality -vs- integration, or greater holism; how the character Lafayette asks us to question what IS The Masculine, what IS The Feminine - can they be rigidly defined, or are their boundaries porous?

I look forward to LaLa's arc for the 2nd half of season 4; I was starting to worry that all his dialogue would consist of variations on "f_ _ _, we've got to get away from these witches/vampires". Looks like he's now as of ep. 6 getting the depth he deserves!