Location

Room 222, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

Keywords

bisexuality, pansexuality, non-binary, television, pop culture, Community, queer

Abstract

In modern media, characters whose sexuality lies outside of binary gender and sexuality representations are few and far between. Most queer characters in mainstream American television are labeled as either gay or lesbian, and in a few rare cases bisexual. Bisexuality, while least visible among sexual minorities that fit within the prescribed LGBT acronym, is most visible outside of the gay/straight dichotomy. Meanwhile the spectrum of non-binary sexualities is largely ignored. In this essay I will examine one character that breaks this mold and forces the modern viewer to consider non-binary sexuality, Dean Craig Pelton of NBC/Yahoo’s Community. The dean is known for his somewhat flamboyant personality, and throughout the series his sexuality is revealed slowly, through small pieces of information that seem to hint, especially at first, that Dean Pelton is gay. At first glance this may seem like the tired trope of “coding” a character as gay in order to appeal to queer audiences without alienating less accepting viewers. However, Craig Pelton is not merely coded gay. What makes the dean different is the fact that while his sexuality goes unlabeled, he is still addressed outright as non-heterosexual. Over the course of the show Pelton reveals sexual interest in men and women, and makes several statements that place him somewhere outside of binary sexuality. In this paper I will show how Dean Pelton breaks new ground for sexuality politics in television by challenging viewers’ understanding of what it means to be queer.

 
Apr 2nd, 9:00 AM Apr 2nd, 10:15 AM

Gay Doesn’t Begin to Cover It: Non-Binary Sexuality in Community’s Dean Pelton”

Room 222, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

In modern media, characters whose sexuality lies outside of binary gender and sexuality representations are few and far between. Most queer characters in mainstream American television are labeled as either gay or lesbian, and in a few rare cases bisexual. Bisexuality, while least visible among sexual minorities that fit within the prescribed LGBT acronym, is most visible outside of the gay/straight dichotomy. Meanwhile the spectrum of non-binary sexualities is largely ignored. In this essay I will examine one character that breaks this mold and forces the modern viewer to consider non-binary sexuality, Dean Craig Pelton of NBC/Yahoo’s Community. The dean is known for his somewhat flamboyant personality, and throughout the series his sexuality is revealed slowly, through small pieces of information that seem to hint, especially at first, that Dean Pelton is gay. At first glance this may seem like the tired trope of “coding” a character as gay in order to appeal to queer audiences without alienating less accepting viewers. However, Craig Pelton is not merely coded gay. What makes the dean different is the fact that while his sexuality goes unlabeled, he is still addressed outright as non-heterosexual. Over the course of the show Pelton reveals sexual interest in men and women, and makes several statements that place him somewhere outside of binary sexuality. In this paper I will show how Dean Pelton breaks new ground for sexuality politics in television by challenging viewers’ understanding of what it means to be queer.