One Tree Hill’s Latina Lesbian?


Peyton (Hilarie Burton)The day after the formal, Peyton goes to school and finds the word “dyke” inexplicably spray-painted on her locker in red letters, and is shunned by the other students for the rest of the day. But Peyton’s close friends stick by her, because they all know what we know: Peyton’s not gay. She has a drug problem and is in love with a teenager who left town to raise his infant daughter, and characters in ensemble casts are never allowed to have more than two issues at one time.

Peyton also actually says, “I’m not gay” in the episode, and insists on standing up for those who are by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “dyke” to protest those who would try to shame her with the label. This action, and her impassioned speech to the school principal about the importance of taking a stand against tyranny, gets her suspended, but she still refuses to be cowed. “I could laugh this off,” she tells Anna, “but what about the girl who can’t? Who’s gonna help her?”

Her behavior is in sharp contrast to Anna’s, who physically keeps her distance from Peyton at school lest she be painted with the same brush. After school, Anna arrives at Peyton’s to apologize and makes the confession we’ve all been waiting for: she was forced to leave her last school because of escalating rumors about “my relationship with another girl.” When Peyton asks, “But those are just rumors, right?” Anna turns away and hedges, “It doesn’t matter if they are, you know how high school is. They might as well have been true.”

In other words, Anna doesn’t outright deny it, another telltale TV sign of the gay-teen-in-waiting.

Anna’s coming-out couldn’t come at a better time. Although the number of lesbian and bisexual characters on cable have increased dramatically in the last year, lesbians have all but disappeared on network TV this season, with only Bianca on All My Children and Dr. Kerry Weaver on ER remaining (with very little screen time devoted to their personal lives). This is a significant decline in both the quality and number of lesbian and bisexual women on network TV from only a few years ago.

Anna would not only be the first new lesbian character on network TV this season, but the only lesbian character of color; the actress is actually of Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Japanese and Indian descent. There have only been two Latina lesbian characters on network and cable TV, in fact—Weaver’s now-dead partner Sandy (played by Lisa Vidal) on ER and Willow’s girlfriend Kennedy (Iyari Limon) on Buffy.

But as welcome as a new lesbian character would be, since Anna will be the only lesbian character on an already-crowded ensemble series which revolves largely around romantic and familial relationships, it’s hard to see how she will have any kind of prominent storyline after she comes out. (There’s more hope for her future storylines if she comes out as bisexual, but that’s unlikely to happen given that bisexuality is still a major taboo on network television.)

We won’t learn anything more definitive about Anna’s sexuality until at least January 25th, when the series comes back from hiatus. In Anna’s final scene in last night’s episode, she tries to tell Peyton she was inspired by Peyton’s decision to wear the “dyke” T-shirt to school, but Peyton turns her away in anger before Anna can finish her sentence. Now Peyton, and the viewers, will just have to wait to find out where Anna’s inspiration takes her.

Check out the Official One Tree Hill site for more info on the show.

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