Homophobia: Sometimes Blood isn’t Thicker Than Water.
Love comes in all different forms. People express their love for others differently. Some people love openly, they want the whole world to see how “together” they are. There’s tough love, too. Tough love is rough and the conditions of the relationship aren’t always ideal. The perfect example of tough love is seen on the Showtime show, Shameless. This show is about the life of the Gallagher’s, a dysfunctional family from the south side of Chicago. They have a dead beat, alcoholic father and their mom left them years prior. The children take care of themselves and value family over mostly everything else. One of the Gallagher children, Ian, is gay. He and his boyfriend, Mickey, are the perfection portrayal of tough love. In the episode, “Emily,” Ian starts to become sick of hiding his relationship with Mickey. Unlike Ian, who’s family is extremely supportive of his relationship, Mickey’s dad is the complete opposite. He’s a raging alcoholic and spends his time either in jail, drinking, or committing a crime. His dad makes it impossible for Mickey to come out. in today’s society, there have been many steps towards equality for gay people. This episode shows even though there are still people who think that a person being gay is wrong, the people that truly love that person, always will no matter what their sexual orientation is.
In the beginning of the episode, Ian shares his concern for their relationship if Mickey doesn’t come out. He tells Mickey how he hates hiding their relationship because Mickey is scared to admit to his family he’s gay. As they’re arguing and pushing each other around, Mickey keeps telling Ian he’s acting like a girl. He is reinforcing the norm that if men shares their feelings, they’re feminine. Ian cares about Mickey so much and doesn’t want to hide anymore, but Mickey continues to fight off Ian. In an earlier episode, Mickey’s father caught Ian and Mickey kissing and forced Mickey to sleep with a prostitute to “get the gay away.” Mickey ends up getting the prostitute pregnant and marrying her. He went to the length of marrying a woman because he didn’t want his dad knowing he was truly gay. Viewers watching would get the impression that hiding your feelings from others does not make the situation better. Mickey does this because he’s genuinely scared of his violent dad. He’s scared he won’t be a “man” if he comes out. In this day in age, people should not be afraid of coming out to their love ones because if they truly love them, they will respect their life.
On the contrary to Mickey’s family, Carl, Ian’s younger brother thought Ian and Mickey being together was no big deal. When Carl wakes up and sees Mickey in Ian’s bed, he openly asks Ian if that was his boyfriend. When Ian answers explaining their situation, Carl replies, “Cool, I think I have a girlfriend.” Ian’s younger, extremely immature brother, didn’t even think twice about Ian being gay. He thought of Ian having a boyfriend just like himself having a girlfriend. Ian is so openly gay and so happy with his life because his family is accepting. Maybe if Mickey were to come out, to his family, he would be happier. He’s living a double life. Because Mickey grew up in an non-understanding and judgmental household, he finds it harder to admit his true self, where as young Carl grew up in a household that was accepting of everyone and everything, so he is unbiased to his beliefs. People watching this show see that people are accepting and that being gay is no different than being straight. Carl doesn’t mind Ian being gay because he was never shown homophobia in his family. People are born unbiased individuals, who they interact with and what they see is how people form their opinions of others.
In the end, Mickey eventually comes out at his son’s baptism party at the bar. Ian gives him the final ultimatum and explains how he’s done hiding and that if Mickey doesn’t tell his family that he can’t come home to Ian that night. Mickey shoves Ian away and starts screaming to the bar that he’s gay. Majority of people don’t even acknowledge it, but his dad flips a table and starts beating him. His own father couldn’t accept his son and would go to the lengths of physically beating him. While it’s very upsetting for Mickey, he has Ian and Ian’s family to love him. This gives the unfortunate impression that it everyone is going to accept being gay. Some viewers may watch this and think they should hide their true self because they won’t get the acceptance from their family. If their own family can’t accept their true lifestyle, what changes the rest of the world from feeling the same way? The reason Mickey is okay with his father not accepting him is because his father isn’t family to him. Yes, he’s family by blood, but sometimes blood isn’t thicker than water. Mickey has other people that love and care for him. This shows him that even if his father doesn’t accept him, he’ll always have Ian and Ian’s family. The people that love you unconditionally, will love you no matter the circumstance.
In conclusion, Mickey was brave for coming out to his homophobic dad. He showed Ian he truly loved him. There might still be discrimination today, but if you surround yourself with the people that love you and care about you no matter what gender you love, you will be okay. The difference between the two family’s is that one grew up with a homophobic dad. They were more likely to think of being gay as negative because that’s all they knew. This is why it took Mickey so long to really know he was gay. Whereas the Gallagher family has more to worry about than what a family members sexual orientation is. The message that needs to be realized is, no matter who you love, people will love you too. No matter if you’re gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, if your family loves you, they will love who you love. In today’s society there will still be backlash. It’s something that many people are old in their beliefs. But even if your family doesn’t approve, that doesn’t mean that other people will disapprove as well. If people start to open their minds, the problems like Mickey's can be avoided.