Quick, what is the most worn-out gay cliché in Hollywood entertainment?  Yep, it is the tormented gay character with the dramatic coming out story.  In Hollywood gay men and women are more often depicted as tortured souls in need of mental assistance than the unadorned people we are.  It’s then refreshing to watch ABC’s new drama Brothers & Sisters which has decided to eliminate the gay angst and portray Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) as an affirmative gay man.


That is not to say that Kevin is without his share of problem, but they are of the human nature, not the shameful nature.  Kevin’s problems are universal and his portrayal of the single and successful modern gay man is one more Americans can empathize with than the silly, if positive, nonsense of Will & Grace.


Kevin’s character has been slower to develop when compared to his siblings.  An overly complicated affair with cater waiter Scotty produced few sparks and thankfully ended prior to hiatus.  Yet since its return from hiatus, Brothers & Sisters has given the hunky thirty something more to say.


In the January 7th episode Kevin, an attorney, squabbles with sister Kitty (Calista Flockhart) as she wrestles with the decision to accept a staff position with Senator McCallister played by Rob Lowe.  McCallister is portrayed as a kinder, gentler Republican (I’m so sure he exists) who supports legal immigration and convinces Kitty that he has no problems with gay people.  It is then Kevin who suggests that McCallister’s legislative voting record on gay issues such as gay marriage reveals a different philosophy.  


In the end Kitty accepts the position, but not before acknowledging the fact that she respects her brother’s opinion and loves him. 


The issue of gay marriage has been a political hot potato since 2003 when hysteria over gay marriage began to boil-over as a result of Massachusetts becoming the first state in the union to recognize gay marriage.  Since then the issue has dominated op-ed columns, front pages, political talk shows, and magazine covers, but rarely has the issue surfaced in a prime time drama. 


While I applaud Kevin’s astute political opinions on timely gay issues, I’m more impressed with his sex life.  So far Kevin has managed to hunt down three hunky men this season – with no apologies. 


Last night’s episode might go down in the annals of gay prime time television as super hunk Chad (Jason Lewis from Sex In The City) confuses Kevin with ambiguous sexual advances which are eventually consummated as they make out on Mulholland Drive overlooking Los Angeles.


The action on screen, while brief, was hot.  And to ABC’s credit was shown very convincingly.  Not to ABC’s credit was the fact that what happened next was left to our imagination.  Yet, previews of next week’s episode show the two men together in bed.


It is then this plot twist that gives Kevin Walker a soapbox to affirm himself as a proud gay man.  Perhaps Chad will provide the coming out angst -- but I’m getting ahead of myself.


While gay dramas that came before it, such as Queer As Folk, relied on shock issues to titillate their audience, Brothers & Sisters inspires by providing a character everyday people can relate to who happens to be gay. That’s shocking.