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Out in TV Land: Queer Youth Characters on the Small Screen

A Sampling of Fictional LGBT High Schoolers, Past and Present

June 28, 2013


Marshall Gregson and Lionel Trane

Marshall Gregson and Lionel Trane, United States of Tara (2009-2011)

Marshall Gregson (Keir Gilchrist) is the youngest son of Tara Gregson, the main character of Showtime's United States of Tara. Tara suffers from diassociative identity disorder, and has several different personalities, whom she calls alters. The main three "alters" are Buck, a Southern conservative biker; T, a sexually promiscuous 15-year-old girl; and Alice, a prim-and-proper housewife.

Marshall is not introduced as gay, but as a rather meek, old-fashioned boy who loves classic films and wants to be a director. Though his mother is caring and nurturing, her alter Buck is actually homophobic and often bullies Marshall. Marshall begins to explore his sexuality when he falls fall for a jock at his school, Jason. He befriends Jason by joining a "theatre group" at a local church that Jason belongs to. The church is putting on a Halloween "hell house" that shows what will happen to you if you sin. Jason and Marshall grow close while preparing for the hell house, but when Jason comes over for dinner, Tara's alter T takes over and seduces Jason, leading to the end of the budding romance.

Marshall eventually meets Lionel Trane (Michael J. Willett), an out and flamboyant gay boy who is trying to start a gay-straight alliance at their high school. Marshall is first completely turned off by Lionel's garish ways, but eventually the two become friends. After learning that Lionel has sex with older men in the bushes of the local park, Marshall declares his love for Lionel and they begin dating. In season 3, Lionel dies in a car crash just as they are rekindling their romance after a brief breakup. Gilchrist was a fan favorite and was often singled out for his acting on the show.

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