Heroes in gay controversy

NBC's Heroes, the season's highest-rated new series, is finding itself involved in a mini-imbroglio.

On Monday, gay-themed site AfterElton.com posted a story stating that the character of Zach, best friend of the regenerating cheerleader Claire, was originally gay but was quietly changed. It cites instances in the series and an interview show creator Tim Kring conducted before the show premiered wherein Kring says Zach, played by Thomas Dekkar, is gay.

Now, AfterElton says that Dekkar's management insists the character of Zach is not gay. An NBC spokesperson backs up the assertion that Dekkar's character is straight.

Today, show creator Tim Kring told the Web site that indeed, the character was changed from gay to straight. Kring says the change occurred only because of the needs of the story.

"I am very sorry this has caused concern for the readers of your website. It was certainly not our intention to confuse the issue of Zach's character being gay," Kring wrote in an e-mail. "We have too much respect for our audience to do that intentionally. However, it has simply become too complicated behind the scenes to push this issue further with this particular character. We apologize for misleading the audience, and wish that we could have handled things better on our end. But making a TV show is often a very imprecise business."

Zach was the confidante of Claire (Hayden Panettiere), a high-school cheerleader who can magically regenerate herself after suffering mortal injuries. Zach had been understanding of Claire's "different" nature, even keeping a videotape of her abilities a secret. In the most recent episode, his memory was wiped by Claire's shadowy father.

Last week, Dekkar landed the lead role in the upcoming Fox science fiction series The Sarah Connor Chonicles, based on the Terminator films.

Heroes is the biggest hit of the 2006 season, averaging 16 million viewers and helping NBC regularly win Monday nights. The show returns January 22.

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I never thought he was gay,I thought he was hot and I was shipping with Claire.



P.S. He still hot and I still ship Zach and Claire
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I cannot believe that this sort of homophobia still exists on network tv. I have never seen the show, and I never will. The show is a 50-minute justification of hate crimes. No doubt next year they'll start changing the black characters white, to appease the racists in the audience.
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Also, people are saying the writers were FORCED to change his sexuality. Is this true? Do we know this as fact? There could be many reasons for this. I imagine that they just chose to change the direction of the character so he could fit in with the main bulk of the story. The show isn't about a gay teenage male, its about Heroes. I can understand why they wouldn't bother telling the story of a gay teenage male when there are those pesky hero stories to trundle through first...
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I agree with the maority here. Zach is in his high school formative years so the character could indeed be as undecided on his sexuality as the creators are. At the end of the day, its a stupid controversy. Gay or not. Either way its a good show.
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I've watched every episode and i didn't think he was ever gay I am often oblivious to that sort of thing though.
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1. It may not be reality, but TV shows help to educate audiences or keep them ignorant. If the writers changed it, I have to wonder why, as it doesn't seem to have been necessary. If the producers forced the change, then that's just plain offensive...as others have said, it's like re-casting black characters with white actors to have greater appeal.



2. Was it the creator that changed it, or the producers? And no, unfortunately, most shows are NOT the property of the creator, they're the property of the network.



3. Contrary to pop culture myth, people do NOT change from gay to straight "all the time", nor do they change from straight to gay either. In almost all instances, the people who've "changed" from gay to straight have reported that they felt their psyches were damaged by the attempt to "cure" them, and eventually reverted. Even the American Psychiatric Association has condemned the practice of "reparative" therapy. Google any of the keywords above, or "Daniel Gonzales ex-gay watch", or look for the rather amusing story of Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, founders of Exodus International. Almost anywhere you look, there's confirmation of the fact that there's no such thing as a "cure". Even Exodus International admits to not keeping statistics on how many people STAY changed...gee, I wonder why that is...maybe because the numbers were so low, they were embarrassed to admit it?
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I can't believe there's any controversy over this. 1. It's a TV show - it's not real

2. The creator of the show can do whatever he wants with it - it's his property

3. Those two points aside, people turn from gay to straight all the time... what's the big deal when someone changes from gay to straight?
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Hello all! Maybe Zach had his gay moments, but isn't it obvious that he has a --big-- crush on Claire? Besides, he being gay would have been a waste of time for the show, who would the producers pair him with? In my opinion, it's better this way, now they can put a bit of romance between him and Claire.
And, please, is it so ludicrous to have "slightly" effeminate guys in a show without making them gay?

Just my humble opinion...
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The character wasnt mindwiped into a straight character the writers just decided to change the direction the character was going. Before "fallout" zach didnt say he was gay it was just where the story was going but they decided that he wasnt.
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"I can't believe the gay pressure groups are still demanding every 'second character' to be gay in shows these days,"



I can't believe someone would comment without reading the story they're commenting about. The controversy regards a character that WAS GAY and then was pressured to be changed via a "mind wipe" into a straight character. Also, there sure as heck aren't all these gay characters on television that you seem to suggest. And if you're looking for non-stereotyped characters, the number drops to zero. " isn't the L-Word enough for them."



The real question being asked is the appearance of any gay character on television more than enough for you?
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I can't believe the gay pressure groups are still demanding every 'second character' to be gay in shows these days, isn't the L-Word enough for them. In the UK we had Queer as Folk and it was very extreme.
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>The gay community will be asking for >reparations Next.



Yeah - why can't they just go back into that closet we used to keep them in, Propaneman? They actually want to be seen on television, and not be "deleted"... crazy. Next they'll want to get married, adopt children and serve in the military. When will this madness end?!? >You have a choice you know people, you can just >turn off the TV. If you don't like it, or the >controversy 'offends' you, DON'T WATCH IT.



If you'd read the original article the tv.com article links to, you'll find that a lot of people are going to do just that. >Leave an otherwise great show alone.



Propaneman, Propaneman, Propaneman. If a great show was left alone, ZACH WOULD STILL BE GAY The network executives made the creator and writers change a character AGAINST THEIR WILL. Now that you realize this, I'm sure you'll be joining the cause and complaining to NBC... but I won't hold my breath.



> Now, lets all leave this debate alone as I'm >sure we all have more important things in our >lives?



No, it looks to me like Pandora's Closet has been opened and people aren't going to be going away and hiding for you anymore.
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the gay community will be asking for reparations Next.You have a choice you know people, you can just turn off the TV. If you don't like it, or the controversy 'offends' you, DON'T WATCH IT. Leave an otherwise great show alone. Now, lets all leave this debate alone as I'm sure we all have more important things in our lives?
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> I think some people, like me, would have very >much liked a romance of some kind between the >two characters.



Well, there can't be a romance because... the character's gay A lot of people write stories on the internet about Kirk & Spock, but they won't change their sexuality in the next Trek movie and make it happen. It'd be just as foolish as what they did on Heroes. > NBC must have seen that and decided that, in >order for the romance to take place, Zach >needed to be straight. So, they changed the >character. This stuff happens.



Characters flip a basic part of their identity from time to time on tv? What happened is that one show finally put a normal gay teenager on television, and the writers were forced to write out his sexuality. > The show isn't against gay people or anything. The show, no - executives behind the scenes - yes. >It's just that NBC wants the show to appeal to >as many viewers as possible. No big deal.



So having one character on a show be gay would mean the show wouldn't appeal to a set of people? If you want to appeal to as many people as possible, you DIVERSIFY, not HOMOGENIZE. That's like re-writing the Cosby Show to cast the Huxtables as white to appeal to "more people". That's just as offensive. > However, does the character has to be either gay or straight? Is it possible that he is >bisexual?



The fact is, the creator of the show created the character as gay and the writers wrote for the character as a gay male. Then they were forced to change it. He was not intended to be bisexual. >Anyway, that's just my opinion. Gay or >straight, it's not really a problem.



What's a problem is that it was unacceptable at NBC to have a gay character on a hit show. Let me ask this - if there was an asian character on the show, and he was replaced by a white actor because a network exec felt that the majority of america is white and would feel more comfortable with a white actor, would you be upset? Why can't people see there's no difference between that and this?
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I, for one, think that the matter is more related to the audience preferences than what the writers intended Zach to be. His relationship with Claire was getting more and more serious over the course of the episodes. I think some people, like me, would have very much liked a romance of some kind between the two characters. NBC must have seen that and decided that, in order for the romance to take place, Zach needed to be straight. So, they changed the character. This stuff happens. The show isn't against gay people or anything. It's just that NBC wants the show to appeal to as many viewers as possible. No big deal. However, does the character has to be either gay or straight? Is it possible that he is bisexual? Some people like both you know. Someone cited that, somewhere on MySpace, Zach is said to be "not sure" of his sexual orientation.



Anyway, that's just my opinion. Gay or straight, it's not really a problem. I think Claire and Zach would just form a nice couple.
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I though of the wiped memory connection too. I'm sure the uninformed people who believe being gay is a choice would buy that ridiculous plot point - he forgot he chose to be gay
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People just don't seem to understand the real issue here. It's not whether the character is straight or gay Apparently no one read the original article this story is based on (despite the link). The controversy is this: the writers intended the character to be gay The character was originally promoted as gay (NBC had MySpace pages for the characters, and this character listed his sexual orientation as "not sure", all his favorite movies were gay-themed, etc., etc.). Suddenly, out of the blue, the PR people and the actor's management are saying the character is straight. On an NBC synopsis, they originally summarized an episode by saying the character came out, then they *edited* that synopsis later on and took that part out. They changed the sexuality of the character and did what they could to deny they did it.



What's the problem? Think, folks. The posted comments to the original AfterElton.com story cite another interview where the creator recounts a story where one of the powers-that-be is looking at scripts and comments that one of the characters seems a bit gay and "you better watch that", to which the creator asks "Why would we want to watch that?"



What's going on is that Heroes is a big show. The writers had to try sneaking in a gay character "under the radar". Apparently, pressure has come to nix the homosexuality, and the character is now being changed. It's simply not acceptable for there to be a decent, normal, non-stereotypical gay character on a television series. It hurts more that the character WAS gay attracted a lot of gay people and young gay people who could relate to the character to the show, then the character is altered because someone at the network of Will & Grace thinks you can't show gay people on tv.



In response to all those who thought the character was straight - read the original article. And get your gaydar fixed. :-)



To those who say "Does it matter?" - all 99.9% of you who posted - read this again...



"However, it has simply become too complicated behind the scenes to push this issue further with this particular character."



Those who are saying, "What does it matter if the character is gay or straight?" need to address that question to NBC, not those complaining. Homosexuality is being treated as an "issue" by NBC rather than a character trait, and the writers had to "push" against NBC to include it at all, and now they can't do it anymore to the point where they have to re-write the character, redact synopses, etc. It's despicable and shameful. THAT'S the controversy, and THAT'S why it matters. It's not the orientation, it's not the change - it's that the change is being forced on the writers by studio execs who feel that you can't show gay people on TV.
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Obviously the early episodes kind of hinted that he was gay at one point I think he said to Claire "trust me you're not my type." People like to blow things out of proportion so I don't see any controversy, from reading between the lines there must be something up with the actor's managers now that he has the lead role of John Conner in the Terminator pilot.
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I can't believe having a character be gay OR straight is still an issue. Especially these days....



I don't think it should matter one whit!
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Personally I don't really care as long as the character is interesting. Anyone else notice that on American TV gay characters are almost always the best friend of one of the female leads but never a lead themselves. They seem to only be there for fashion tips etc but not essential to the story.
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Please, please, please let him be gay Oh, how I wish they would let him be gay Curse you writers! Curse you!!
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You know I am all for gay rights and stuff. But honestly what difference does it make that a fictional character is gay straight, likes animals or whatever?? It really does not matter. Also why would they have to apologize about him being gay and now is straight? If it hurt peoples feelings then go get a napkin and wipe the tears away.
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Wow.. look at all the straight people who don't care... What a shock!.. Well I care.. it gave me someone I could relate too.. but I guess thats not important... Its a well known fact that gay people typically relate to heroes because most heroes have to hide their identity, the same way gay people have to hide their identity before they come out (and sometimes after... like if you are in the red-neck south). Regardless I'll still watch the show because like some people have said.. he is not a main character really.... I'd like to see a gay hero on there someday though.
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It is a little dumb for this to be a controversy but you do have to be sensitive to people's feelings aswell.
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who gives a shhh



stop wasting time talkin bout somthing that dont matter, and hurry up and give more episodes



22nd Jan



tooooo loooonnngggg tooooo waaaaaiiiiittt



HEROES BEST SHOW 06'
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I think it's appalling. It just goes to show that TV producers are still weak and spineless. They say 1 in 10 people has had a gay experience, you wouldn't know it from watching any of the current 100 or so American network shows. The fact is they they got caught, but to be fair it's very unlikely to be the first time this has happened.
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This is a very dumb controversy indeed. Funny how one of the least important characters (what, he got like 30 minutes of air time in all 11 episodes so far?) is the one who actually stirs up something like this. It's just a very dumb issue. I for one, like a few of the others, also felt that Zach had something for Claire at the beginning. I wasn't even aware of the fact that his character was even intended to be gay (until a bit later into the series).
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Who cares? The show is great and it really doesn't matter either way. Sounds like another network trying to upset the cart because Heroes is kicking butt in the ratings!
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Does it really matter?
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Who cares if Zach is straight or gay That is the least important thing in the show. It doesn't matter if he is gay or straight and it doesn't change anything...
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So whats the big problem here so they took a character and changed his storyline from being gay to straight. Who are we to judge other people on this topic. Zach is a character in this show and there for has a storyline, storylines change to better fit the show itself. If they couldn't think of anything going on the gay side the best thing is to make the character straight, opens up more storylines for upcomming episodes.



I really don't see the problem in this "controversy".
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Legolas7 that is one stupid, immature thing to say.



I personally have no problem with whether he's gay or straight so long as Claire, who, along with Nikki, is by far the most coolest, still continues to impress me.
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Being a bit over-sensitive, so what if he's not gay anymore...its not like he really had that much of a role anyway...
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Oh please!!!! Just don't bring this whole stupid gay/straight stuff to such an amazing show!
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It's got nothing to do with political correctness and please don't say 'there are a lot of great gay peopl in the world", that's the oldest form of discrimination in history! Being 'great' or not has nothing to do with being gay or black or whatever!

I think it's all about manipulation. They start off with a gay character to attract a gay audience and then, probably for plot purposes (if you can't have a character involved in some kind of romance on this kind of show... what are you going to do with it?), they didn't want to get in deeper than they had so they just changed it! It's not as when a person just "comes out" in a show... people DO come out all the time in real life... however they probably never go from gay to straight out of the blue because their "memory was erased"... come on!

I don't care either way but I can understand that there are people who could be offended.
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I never really thought he was gay They kinda left the door open by not having him say he was gay Others clearly accused him of it, but he admitted nothing. It seemed to me that he had a crush on Claire, also, but was such a wimpy dude that he knew he had no real shot.
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Well watching the series and never reading anything about the show except here, I understood from what I saw that he was gay Didn't the other cheerleaders say it? I guess I misunderstood something if NBC now says he isn't :P
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ROFL DavidSWE - that IMDB thread was fantastic lolol



funniest read in a long time :)
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I don't really care about that, where's the big deal?
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what's the problem?
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There are so many characters in the show, I am amazed that anyone - including the writers and producers - can keep track of the characters backgrounds.
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As a comment on "smash_religion"'s comment stating that this was the "dumbest controversies ever", I beg to differ. I think the most stupid discussion was the one at IMDb on the topic of male cattle with udders.

See link for more details on a lot of people with way too much spare time, not unlike this situation :-D

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414853/board/nest/52357727
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Having your memory wiped would not change your sexual orientation. Personally I think they could just please everybody and make him bi. :)
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I care. It's really a shame that a network can make writers change their original story.
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Tempest in a teacup
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The only thing gay is this "controversy"
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WTF? I'm growing tired of this show. I don't care.
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Hang on, why does the Gay community not have a problem with shows where the characters 'come out of the closet' and become gay Why is it such a big deal that a gay character is suddenly straight? If you ask me, the creators of the show have nothing to apologise for. Their are alot of great gay people in the world, but these 'politically correct' idiots spoil it for everyone.
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Riiight
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Like this show needs another back story to explain. Stick to the whole superhero thing. I completely understand why they dropped that part of his character, as it would just be one more thing to dilute the overall storyline.
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