Last night, NBC's Southland finally outed its gruff gay cop, becoming only the second network series during prime time to feature a leading gay character.

Training Officer John Cooper (played by Michael Cudlitz) has been giving off a gay vibe from the show's first frame.

Our first tip off came during the show's April premiere, when the sharp-tongued cop turned to a gay bar after a hard day on the beat to unwind.

Cooper also came to the defense of a transgender streetwalker who was being harassed by thugs in an episode titled See The Woman.

But the best evidence we found came when the tough cop took one for the fairies in last week's episode.

On the beat with partner Ben Sherman (played by Ben McKenzie), the pair responded to an emergency call at a tattoo parlor, where an angry, mean looking skinhead has called the police after a tattoo artist has mistakenly inked Dennis instead of Denise in bold letters on his back.

“Do I look like a faggot?” the roughneck growls.

“I don't know,” Cooper calmly responds. “What does a faggot look like?”

Up to this point, viewers might still have been inclined to believe Cooper was just a tough-talking cop with a sensitive side for queers. After all, he does have an ex-wife.

But such notions were put to bed last night as Southland became the second network drama to feature a leading gay character during prime time. ABC's Brothers and Sisters features three gay men.

Under a cascade of Memorial Day fireworks, Cooper stops to admire a garden retaining wall built by Caesar, who comes from behind to join him. Caesar reaches for Cooper's beer and takes a swig as the pair exchange a tender glance before Caesar leans in on the policeman.

Cooper might not be perfect, but he's certainly real.

Gay Entertainment Report is a feature of On Top Magazine and can be reached at