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How the Golden Girls taught America about coming out & marriage equality

Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White in "Golden Girls" screenshot

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day or love on any other occasion, take a moment to say a word of thanks to The Golden Girls for showing American how queer love is a thing of beauty.

Way back in the late 80s and early 90s, a goofy sitcom about little old ladies was out in front of issues like coming out and marriage equality, helping to lay the groundwork for decades of rapid progress of social acceptance and civil rights.

In a brand new video series called Culture Cruise, queer entertainment connoiseur Matt Baume takes a deep dive on two of the gayest episodes of The Golden Girls.

The episode “Scared Straight” aired in 1988, just a few weeks after the first National Coming Out Day, and features Blanche’s gay brother Clayton. The second, “Sister of the Bride,” aired in 1991 just a few weeks after three couples in Hawaii began the process of suing for marriage equality. And on both occasions, the show isn’t just timely — it’s years ahead of its time.

You might’ve seen the famous moment when Sophia manages to overcome resistance to gay marriage in just two lines of dialogue. It’s a real thing of beauty (thanks in part of queer writer Marc Cherry).

But what’s even more beautiful is how Blanche ends the episode by promising to work on accepting her gay brother. It won’t be easy, but she wants him to be happy. And by extension, the episode is telling viewers, we can all work on being better to the people we love.

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