When the musical Glee first presented TV viewers with the gay character played by Chris Colfer, the LGBT community cheered. Now they have a new reason to applaud as Empire showcases gay rights issues.

Lee Daniels is the writer, director, and producer of the Fox prime-time hip-hop soap opera-style drama. He revealed that he found himself the subject of a bidding war among networks who wanted to broadcast his edgy show. But as a gay filmmaker who wanted to make a difference, Daniels steered clear of HBO, which he felt many of the people whom he wanted to reach could not afford.

“I knew half of my family couldn’t afford HBO. The audience that is important for this show can’t afford HBO. I’m talking about people that are impoverished, or people that haven’t come out of their communities, or haven’t left their blocks or their cities, and haven’t seen the world. Oftentimes, a lot of these people are homophobic, I feel.”

In Empire, music king Lucius, played by Terrence Howard, is immersed in selecting which of his three sons will receive the honor of inheriting his musical empire. Gay character Jamal (Jussie Smollett) is a singer seeking that inheritance, along with his straight brothers, Andre and Hakeem.

And Empire is not alone in the growing television kingdom of shows that include LGBT characters.  Glee showrunner Ryan Murphy created a show where the popular football coach Shannon Beiste, played by Dot-Marie Jones, announces he is a transgender man.


During that episode of the TV musical comedy, Coach Beiste also reveals that he will be on a leave of absence for his medical transition. With the revelation made to her assistant coach Sam, played by Chord Overstreet, and notoriously nasty principal Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch, the coach is set to return before the finale.

Both shows come at a time where shock over a transgender teen’s suicide continues to echo, reported ABC News.

Although some mystery remains surrounding Leelah Alcorn’s suicide, the teen wrote a note on her Tumblr blog before heading out at night directly into the path of a tractor-trailer moving steadily down a highway.

“My death needs to mean something…. Fix society. Please,” wrote the teen in her final words.

And after the 17-year-old passed away on Dec. 28, a movement to do something about her final plea took root. When Jill Soloway won an award for her TV series Transparent about a dad who announces he is transitioning to a transgender woman, she dedicated her Golden Globe to Leelah.

“It was the right time and place for Leelah’s story,” said Soloway of her decision to use the award to honor Alcorn.”There are so many people like Leelah. There are so many stories.”





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