Degrassi and the Next Lesbian Generation

Part one of the episode, scheduled to air on Nov. 28 in Canada, centers on the premiere of a fictitious film, Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh? Jason Mewes (who plays Jay) and Kevin Smith (who plays Silent Bob) return to Degrassi for the premiere of their film, which was incorporated into an earlier storyline, and become involved in the goings-on at the community school.

17-year-old Paige, who is one of the most popular girls in the school, had previously planned to invite her recently single friend Hazel to the premiere party, but realizes that her friend Alex, who has never been to an event like this before, very much wants to go. So Paige decides to bring Alex to the event, and the two of them have a very good time that culminates in an unexpected kiss.

In part two of the episode, scheduled to air on Dec. 5 in Canada, it is revealed that Alex spent the night in Paige’s bed, but Paige slept on the floor because she was confused about what had happened. Both girls have previously dated boys—Alex dated the resident bad boy, Jay, and Paige has been engaged in a difficult relationship with a former student teacher.

Their kiss reportedly has different effects on both of them: Alex is okay with not knowing what it meant, but Paige begins to question her sexual identity and herself. She talks about the experience with a friend, who stresses to her that it’s not important whether she is a “lesbian” or “bisexual”; the important fact is that they care about each other.

This storyline highlights a significant change in teen attitudes toward same-sex attraction. First, many teens these days are not concerned about identifying as a “lesbian” or as “gay,” choosing instead to view sexuality as a more fluid experience. While older lesbians and gay men (meaning, anyone older than their mid-20s) may feel it is politically necessary to identify as gay or lesbian, younger teens these days don’t feel that pressure to choose an identifier.

Though we don’t yet know whether the Alex-and-Paige storyline will be extended throughout the season, the fact that it exists is another positive step in raising awareness about queer teens.

In addition, Alex’s Latina heritage makes her character only the second teen Latina lesbian on North American television, following Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Kennedy (Iyari Limon).

Also noteworthy is the fact that this storyline will be aired in the U.S. on basic cable network The N, also home to the new series South of Nowhere. This unprecedented event—two teen series, on the same network, including girls who are just coming out—suggests that homosexuality has made significant strides in mainstream acceptance, both for the teens who will be watching the shows and for the adults who produce them.

For more on Degrassi: The Next Generation, visit degrassi.tv

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