At the start of the year things were looking pretty good for gay characters in soaps as all of our UK ones had at least one gay character or were about to introduce a gay character but at the end of the year the picture is quite different. Our soap gays are leaving in what could be described as an Exodus and the worst part is, it’s not over yet. [May contain spoilers for Emmerdale fans]
Think back to January 2008 and how many gay characters there were in our soaps, all of them had at least one soap gay or were about to introduce one as in the case of EastEnders. It seemed that at last our soaps were finally reflecting the many faces of the gay community in a range of different gay characters stripped across the soaps. While Coronation Street’s Sean Tully [Anthony Cotton] has often been criticised for being a stereotype his boyfriend Marcus Dent [Charlie Condou] balanced this out as he was straight acting but confident about his sexuality. Over in Hollyoaks we the prospect of a new romance for John Paul McQueen [James Sutton] as Kieron Hobbs [Jake Hendriks] arrived in the village and caught his eye. In Emmerdale Paul Lambert [Matthew Bose] and Jonny Foster [Richard Grieve] were about to get married. Now it’s December of 2008 and most of those characters have gone or are about to depart. So we take a look at our soap gays and see where they are now and if they are sticking around or if they’ve fled soapland.
Departed Gays [or soon to depart]
John Paul McQueen [James Sutton]
At the start of the year John Paul was slowly getting over his Craig related heartbreak and the arrival of Father Kieron Hobb to the village brought the prospect of a new romance for John Paul. Being soapland the path to romance is never a smooth one and this was certainly true for John Paul and Kieron. It took a little while to get there, as Kieron had particular issues to deal with, but eventually a romance was born and fans were happy. But there were forces at work in Hollyoaks which meant the romance was doomed and in August Craig Dean returned to the village causing John Paul to question his new relationship with Kieron. Then Kieron sealed his fate when he stumbled upon the revelation that his flat-mate Nasty Niall was John Paul’s half-brother. Niall killed Kieron to keep his secret safe and John Paul had lost another lover but Craig was there for him and the two left for Dublin together. However, Mad Niall soon brought him back when he kidnapped John Paul and the rest of his family and held them hostage in a church, rigged with explosives. While John Paul escaped with his life his sister, Tina, didn’t. After the tragic and traumatic events John Paul went back to Dublin.
Kieron Hobbs [Jake Hendriks]
Kieron arrived in Hollyoaks in January as the new catholic priest and so began and long and bumpy road to romance with John Paul and death at the hands of Niall. As Kieron was the catholic priest his feelings for John Paul caused him some problems as he struggled to deal with them. Although things between John Paul and Kieron weren’t smooth to begin with, John Paul had threatened to out Kieron upon discovering his sexuality, the two eventually began to grow close. After plenty of bumps and false starts the two eventually got together and Niall made sure everyone knew about this. After the revelation Kieron quit his role in the Church. He later discovered that Niall was John Paul’s secret half brother and was Maya’s lost son and this sealed his fate. Niall wasn’t prepared to let Kieron ruin his quest for revenge and so he poisoned him and poor Kieron died.
Craig Dean [Guy Burnet]
He came back, he went away, and he came back again and then went away again. Craig returned to the village in August/September following the death of Max Cunningham, his sister’s husband. His return to the village caused problems for John Paul and Kieron as Kieron believed that John Paul wasn’t truly over Craig. This was certainly true and John Paul and Craig slept together and then Kieron died. The death of Kieron and he had cheated on him was devastating for John Paul but when Craig returned to Dublin John Paul went with him. A few weeks later Craig returned to England to take his sister Steph and Tom, Max’s younger brother, on holiday. Craig revealed to Steph that John Paul was struggling to deal with his guilt over Kieron and the death of his sister Tina at the hands of Niall. Craig was about to find out, however, just what Niall was capable of as the deranged lunatic had followed them up to Scotland. Niall kidnapped Tom and then beat up Craig and took Steph for a walk across the Scottish highlands before throwing himself off a cliff after Steph told him she just didn’t love him. After taking Steph and Tom back to the village Craig returned once more to Dublin, understanding a little more now of what John Paul and his family went through at the hands of Nasty Niall.
Marcus Dent [Charlie Condu]
Poor old Marcus Dent, being boyfriend to Sean Tully certainly isn’t easy and he deserves a medal for sticking with Sean for so long. The relationship between Sean and Marcus was always an odd one. We could see what Sean saw in Marcus but couldn’t understand what Marcus saw in Sean. After all Sean was a self obsessed machinist from Underworld who paraded Marcus around like a trophy. The relationship was certainly one sided with it all being about Sean and his needs and this started to wear on Marcus. Eventually it all came to a head when Marcus was offered a job in London and decided to take it. Sean had pushed him too far. Sean hadn’t trusted Marcus and had made a pass at someone else and Marcus found out. He confronted Sean about his selfish ways, it went in one ear and out the other, and then left.
Jonny Foster [Richard Grieve]
Jonny Foster was a likable chap who fell in love with Paul Lambert [Matthew Bose] and was hopeful of a long lasting relationship with him. Paul and Jonny even got engaged but Jonny was always suspicious of Paul’s friendship with Grayson Sinclair, a closet gay. Jonny wasn’t the only one suspicious of Grayson’s friendship with Paul, his wife Perdy was too. In fact it was Perdy who had brought Jonny and Paul together in the first place as she hoped Jonny would take Paul’s attention rather than Grayson. However, Paul and Grayson remained good friends but Paul always fancied Grayson. Although Paul and Jonny did get married Jonny decided he simply couldn’t trust Paul and left the village.
Paul Lambert [Matthew Bose]
Unlucky in love Paul hasn’t had it easy since he arrived in Emmerdale. His short lived romance with binman Ivan was ruined by the spite of his sister, Nicola, who claimed Ivan had made a pass at her. Paul believed her rather than Ivan so Ivan packed his bags and said goodbye to the circus, sorry the village. Then along came Jonny Foster and all seemed well as the two started to date but at the back of Paul’s mind was Grayson Sinclair, one of his neighbours. The fact that Grayson was so far back in the closet he was having tea with the White Witch, or in Emmerdale’s case his mother Rosemary, didn’t put Paul off. Nor did the fact that Grayson was married to Perdy and having a surrogate child with Katie. Oh what a complicated web of relationships Emmerdale is. Paul and Jonny did eventually get married, earlier this year, but Jonny felt he just couldn’t trust Paul or Grayson and so he left the village. Early next year Paul will also leave the village, it’s been announced, but how will Paul depart the Yorkshire dales?
Grayson Sinclair [Christopher Villiers]
For such a small Yorkshire village Emmerdale sure did have a lot of gays at one point, this year. Now Grayson was married to Perdy and hopeful of having children and so asked Katie, one of the neighbours, to have a surrogate child for him. But Grayson was gay and in the closet but fancied neighbour Paul, who also fancied him. Perdy suspected as much and so made dam sure that Paul was occupied with someone else, Jonny. But unfortunately for Perdy and Jonny, Paul still fancied Grayson and they ended up sleeping together. Following all of this? Perdy ran away with Katie’s surrogate child and Jonny fled the village after marrying Paul. Grayson meanwhile was annoying everyone else in the village and after assaulting Katie and being assaulted by Paul, angry at his marriage to Jonny falling apart, he left. But returned to have his revenge on the troublesome King family before being arrested and led away from the soap.
But soap this year has totally been full of exits for gay characters as we have seen a few arrivals, just a few mind you. Let’s hope that 2009 brings us plenty more replacement for our dearly beloved but departed soap characters.
EastEnders: Christian Clarke [John Partridge]
Christian arrived in Walford in January of this year after having invited his sister, Jane Beale, to his impending civil partnership ceremony. Unfortunately Christian got rather drunk at a meal, where Jane and his partner were present, and confessed to having been in love with Jane’s former husband, who had since passed away. Unsurprisingly Christian’s partner called off the civil partnership and Christian was forced to stick around in Walford. Since then he’s become a fully fledged member of the Beale clan having been caught up in the antics of Lucy Beale and the deranged antics of Stephen Beale, who even made a pass at Christian. Yes after convincing Ian that Cindy was still alive and then shooting him, trying to make a pass at Jane, helping Lucy to run away and then trying to woo Stacey Slater, Stephen decided to make a pass at Christian. What a welcome to the Beale clan! More recently Christian hasn’t been best pleased to see his mother, Linda, back in Walford.