There are three things Homer wants in life, his beer cold, his TV loud and his homosexuals flaming, proud and with full equality.
At least according to a new study, The Simpsons bettered the lives of LGBT people and helped them to come out and fight for their rights.
German researcher Erwin In het Panhuis has analysed 490 Simpsons scenes and over 70 gay characters, showing the US cartoon has long supported gay rights.
The Cologne-based academic pointed out in 2005, The Simpsons was the first cartoon series to dedicate an entire episode to same-sex marriage.
In his book, Behind the Gay Jokes – Homosexuality in ‘The Simpsons,’ Panhuis told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, as reported by The Local, The Simpsons treats homosexuality as ‘something normal’.
Panhuis suggested the loveable doofus that is Homer is far more complex sexually than at first glance.
‘Homer has kissed other men on the lips more than 50 times throughout the series but despite that he’ s happily married to his wife,’ Panhuis said.
‘Homer is sometimes heterosexual, sometimes gay and sometimes homophobic.’
Smithers is among the many gay recurring characters on the show, whose unrequited love for his boss Mr Burns is far more than just an ongoing joke.
‘It is a very complicated relationship full of fear and unrequited love and moments of real tenderness,’ Panhuis said.
Marge’s sister Patty’s sexuality had been hinted at several times in the series until she came out in the 2005 marriage equality episode.
For example in the 1992 episode Treehouse of Horror III, Homer runs past her naked and she says: ‘There goes the last lingering thread of my heterosexuality.’
One of the first episodes to focus exclusively on gay themes was a 1997 episode called Homer’s Phobia. In it, Homer disassociates himself from his new friend John (played by John Waters) fearing he could turn his son Bart gay.
After visiting a gay steel mill (‘hot stuff coming through!’) and going hunting, Homer realizes his mistakes and tells Bart he’ll support him whatever his sexuality is.
Despite Fox not wanting to air it, the episode won critical acclaim for its anti-homophobia message and won the Emmy and GLAAD award.
Panhuis said: ‘[The Simpsons] set the standard for cartoon series…and I believe it’ll always be a trailblazer.’