In the late 90s, Ellen DeGeneres’ character on her show Ellen came out as gay, becoming one of the first major characters to openly identify as queer on a sitcom.
Now, 20+ years later, there are more LGBTQ characters on TV than ever. But unfortunately, representation is often accompanied by stereotypes, particularly when it comes to gay men, and definitely when it comes to black gay men.
If the only exposure you had to black gay men was through TV shows, you’d think all of them are flamboyant and “extra” (which is obviously not true).
Enter Brooklyn 99‘s Captain Raymond Holt. He’s a black police captain in New York who also happens to be gay. He doesn’t hide the fact that he’s gay — he has pride flags in his office and lovingly talks about his husband, Kevin. He also fights hard for equality in the workplace and even started the African-American Gay and Lesbian New York City Police Association (aka AAGLNYCPA). But he never lets the fact that he’s gay define him either.
Captain Holt is constantly pushing back against gay stereotypes in ways that are comedic for the show’s sake, but never for the sake of poking fun at LGBTQ people. He’s proud of who he is and who he loves, he just shows it on his own terms.
Here are eight times when Captain Holt was anything but stereotypical.
1. When He Disclosed Why He Hates Playing Sports
Most TV shows play into the stereotype that heterosexual black men love playing and watching sports like basketball and football. Meanwhile, gay men are often portrayed as having no interest in sports because they want to dance, sing, or participate in theater arts. Holt has no interest in playing sports but he definitely has no interest in singing or dancing either. Graphs and charts are where it’s at!
2. All the Times He Was 100% *Not* Extra
Captain Holt has no time for sparkles, vibrant colors, or anything attention-grabbing. He’s not dramatic, likes his food bland, and says that his favorite color is tan because “it’s no-nonsense.”
3. That Time He Called Beyoncé ‘Rock Music’
If you were to go by media portrayal, you’d assume every gay black man is obsessed with pop culture and Beyoncé. Captain Holt is definitely not that guy. He had no idea that Sex and the City was a single show (and not two separate shows, one called Sex and another called The City). And since he only listens to classical music, he offered up tickets to a Beyoncé concert in the most hilarious way
4. That Time Even Twitter Thought He Was a Robot
In the media, gay men are constantly riding in the front car of the stereotypical emotional roller coaster. Not Holt. The 99 squad rarely sees him smile, and when Gina sets him up with a Twitter account, it gets deactivated because the platform thinks he’s a bot.
5. Any Time He Tries to Use Slang
You know how cringe-worthy it is when an old person tries to use slang words teenagers are using? That is literally Captain Holt any time he tries to use gay slang. The best example is when he tries to use “woke” with the squad but insists on saying “awake.” You know, because it’s grammatically correct.
6. Any Time We Catch a Glimpse of His ‘Casual Wear Closet’
If you were to give Holt the choice between a straight-off-the-runway shirt or a pair of khakis, he’d pick the khakis every time (and would want them to be neatly ironed). He’s not the “gay BFF” that loves to go shopping and knows every designer’s name. He’s a man who believes in the power of a tie at work and matching khaki clothes at home.
7. Literally Every Time He’s a Badass Cop
If you could come up with the complete opposite of the stereotypical flamboyant gay male, it would be the stoic, no-frills, ass-kicking police captain. In every single episode, Captain Holt busts stereotypes simply by unapologetically being himself. He’s the leading character that represents the severely underrepresented gay black male community (and the completely unrepresented antique collecting community). You wouldn’t just assume he’s gay based on his demeanor and appearance, but he’d never be shy to share that information with you — or brag about his husband, Kevin.