Soap Protestors Advocate for Gay Kiss

As the World Turns had the first gay male character in daytime drama in 1988. Last summer, the show hit another milestone when the first two gay men on a soap, Luke and Noah, kissed for the first time. But the lovers haven’t locked lips since September, when the Noah character was still coming to grips with being gay. But since officially becoming a couple, their lips have been sealed. Fans are wondering whether it’s a sign of squeamishness by CBS or show sponsors Procter & Gamble Co, according to the Associated Press. They’ve been writing letters, signing an online petition and even have a Web site that counts the days, hours, minutes and seconds since Luke and Noah last locked lips. "We totally support this show and applaud the show for doing this story line," said Roger Newcomb, a computer worker from New York’s northern suburbs and the man behind the campaign. "We just don’t understand why they have to be censored or treated differently."

There’s no kissing ban, said Jeannie Tharrington, spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble Productions, although she wouldn’t say what will happen in future shows. She explained the mistletoe shot (when the gay couple first kissed) as a "creative decision."

"It’s always hard to please a diverse audience," Tharrington said, "and we have a diverse audience."

Webber recalls reading a handful of letters in soap opera publications after last summer’s first kiss along the lines of "I don’t care if Luke is gay, but I don’t want to see it."

Barbara Bloom, CBS senior vice president for daytime, said there was a "minimal" negative reaction from viewers about the story line, although she couldn’t define what that meant. There was apparently no organized campaign by conservative or parent advocacy groups that monitor television content.

"It’s entirely new to me," said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council. "I hadn’t heard anything about it."

The American Family Association Web site has a "take-action alert" against Procter & Gamble, calling the company the "top pro-homosexual sponsor on television." The group bases its determination on the number of P&G products advertised on prime-time TV shows with gay or lesbian characters.

"As the World Turns" isn’t even mentioned.