ER’s Dr. Weaver Comes Out Again

Kerry's photo of her child and partner Sandy

Instead, we learn that Kingsley, who at fourteen gave away her infant daughter in hopes she might have a better life, is in town for the Christ Crusade, and decided to pay a visit to Weaver, her forgotten progeny. Weaver is understandably shaken up, and goes on a number of uncharacteristic “breaks” from her rounds, shocking her colleagues and staff. “Does she have multiple personalities?” they quip about the normally-tireless hospital tyrant. Reunited, mother and daughter go out for coffee, Weaver attends her mom’s chorus practice, and their day together culminates over dinner, when Weaver pulls out a portrait of herself, her late girlfriend, and their baby son.

“No wonder you need a nanny,” Kingsley says, referring to Weaver’s busy schedule, and to the woman in the framed photograph. Weaver summons up her bravery and explains “This is my family, Helen. This woman’s name is Sandy Lopez and she’s not my nanny, she was my partner…my lover, my wife, the mother of my child. She was a firefighter and she died last year.” Kingsley, true to zealot-type, upon swallowing her daughter’s declaration of lesbianism, immediately insists that they pray together.

Innes does an excellent job of making ER’s occasionally tired lines emotionally resonant, and of realistically showing the underbelly of self-inflicted shame in her character’s admission of gayness even as she attempts to assert her sexuality proudly and unabashedly to her mother, who she knows will be combative. Weaver has come a long way in her own self-acceptance; it’s visibly been a struggle, and she now refuses to be framed within the terms of her mother’s bigotry. She reminds her mom of her previously-voiced expression that “All Jesus’ children are perfect,” and the two argue opposite sides of whether gay children, too, are due God’s unconditional love.

Weaver remains strong and refuses to be pitied. She insists “If you’re disappointed, it should be in the limitations of your faith, not in the way that I’ve lived my life.” Their discussion, although it is a bit too straight out of an Op Ed debate, is moving and handled well. Their inability to become true family comes down to the difference between love and acceptance, a matter Weaver understandably will not budge on:

WEAVER: Can you accept me for who I am?

KINGSLEY: I can love you, whoever you are.

WEAVER: I don’t want love without acceptance.

The creators of ER are producing multiple closet doors for Weaver to open, again and again–first, dealing with being out at work, then fighting a child custody battle in court to retain rights to the son she co-parented with her lover who passed away, and now defending her lesbianism to her birth-mother-who-popped-up-out-of-nowhere.

Although ER is leaps and bounds ahead of most network television in terms of lesbian representation, it still tokenizes Weaver’s sexuality, and gives her personal life airtime only when it’s controversial, when questions of the “closet” abound. That’s why portrayals like those on The L Word–where lesbian characters are not constantly defending their sexuality, and their personal lives are rich and complexly drawn–are so important.

Although the dialogue between Weaver and her mother accurately shows both characters’ perspectives, and it was satisfying to see Weaver stand up for herself and express her queer pride articulately, I’m looking forward to a Weaver who isn’t constantly defending herself.

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