You may remember that back when The N’s South of Nowhere was in its prime, one of its primary cast members, Danso Gordon (who played "Clay Carlin") abruptly quit the show because it "went against my personal Faith and integrity.”
The show was one of the few on television that depicted gay teens in a positive way, and, at the time, there was speculation that this was exactly what Gordon found objectionable.
As we reported in February 2007, "The N’s editorial director recently (accidentally?) revealed at a youth roundtable that an unnamed actor on the show felt that the positive portrayal of coming out — and the decidedly less positive picture painted by a conservative Christian mom who tries de-gay her dykey daughter — was ‘morally wrong,’ and asked to leave the show."
The negative publicity surrounding his departure surely put more pressure on the producers of the show, who were already under fire by conservative groups who protested the positive portrayal of queer teens Spencer (Gabrielle Christian) and Ashley (Mandy Musgrave).
South of Nowhere went on without Gordon (whose character was killed off) and ran for a total of three seasons before being canceled in 2008. Since that time, the number of lesbians on television has continued to dwindle.
Today, I received the message below from Gordon that he asked me to share with AfterEllen.com readers:
SOUTH OF NOWHERE CHANGED MY LIFE
I was raised in a very religious home in Canada. I entered the American film business at the age of 16. When I landed the role of Clay Carlin on TV’s South Of Nowhere, I was excited about playing one of the teenagers on the show. The show centered around young people dealing with various issues that affect their daily lives.
At that time in my life, I thought that some of the episodes dealing with sexual orientation and alternative lifestyles were in conflict with my personal beliefs. Although, I have never made any derogatory remarks about sexual preference and have friends and many co-workers who are Gay and Lesbian, I quietly felt internal pressure to give up a great role on a great show.
I later realized that those around me, at that time in my life, were promoting and pushing their beliefs on me. Initially, I felt that they were my beliefs but in reality I was conditioned by the conservative religious views of my upbringing. I know now that what I went through is not uncommon to most young people: 1) we attempt to please those around us, and 2) we tend to accept the beliefs of those around us as our own. My experience both on and after South Of Nowhere has really changed my mindset and personal beliefs.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m caring person who is very sensitive to the feelings of others. I’m no longer an impressionable/naive young man, but rather a free-thinking 29-year old man. President Obama gave a stirring speech on race, prior to getting elected that opened the hearts and minds of a nation. Everyone on this planet has the right to self-expression.
I have been fortunate to work in Film & TV for 14 straight years. I have worked with many talented Actors, Producers and Directors who are Gay or Lesbian. My experience working on South Of Nowhere expanded my understanding and sensitivity to the plights of my Gay and Lesbian friends everywhere. Without it, I wouldn’t have evolved to my current level of acceptance, understanding and spiritual consciousness.
I will forever be grateful to the show’s execs, writers and cast members for a truly positive life changing experience. That’s really what the show was all about! I have been and continue to remain supportive to my friends and co-workers in their efforts to enjoy the same dignity, respect and rights due all citizens of this planet…without judgment.
To simply sum all up, when I was a child I thought as a child, when I became a man, I put away childish thoughts. South Of Nowhere has forever changed my life and hopefully the lives of many others.
— Danso Gordon
Here’s Gabrielle Christian‘s response to Danso’s statement:
Danso, thank you. I’m sure we all understand how a certain upbringing and social environment can effect one’s judgment, however, the important thing is that nothing is permanent (especially one’s state of mind). Nevertheless, I must admit I missed having you as my brother for the remainder of South of Nowhere! Wouldn’t it be great to go back and do it all over again? Clay was really something, and I know how important of a role model he was to our fans, especially considering his difficult circumstances.
However, it’s very comforting to know that his journey (both onscreen and off) has affected you in the way that we hope he has for others. I fully commend and appreciate your words of kindness and enlightenment. Thank you so much for being an inspiration. You’re my hero!
— Gabrielle Christian
Read former SON showrunner Nancylee Myatt‘s response in the comments below.
What do you think of Gordon’s change of heart?