Soap 1.3: ‘Burt, just think of me as a person’

On Jan. 24, I started rewatching Soap from the very first episode as I begin to flesh out the episode guide portion of Soap! The Inside Story… I thought I would share some of the key moments of the series with everyone along the way.

This is from last night’s session: Season 1, episode 3 (1.3). Mary’s just asked Burt why he can’t accept Jodie for who he is.

Jodie: Burt, just think of me as a person, that’s all. That’s all I am. I’m a person sitting here. Burt, look at me. I’m a person…[Burt looks at him]….who happens to like men.

Mary: Burt!

Burt: No, wait a minute. I don’t know. It’s hard, this gay business. I’m not used to it. I mean all my life, I was never around them. When I was growing up, gay meant happy. I mean it’s just hard to get used to it. And life was a lot easier then. I mean maybe when you guys were still in the closet, maybe it was not easy on you, but it was a hell of a lot easier on us. I mean it used to be you’d walk down the street and a guy would smile at you, you’d smile back. Today you smile back and you either get arrested or invited dancing. So it takes getting used to. It’s hard getting used to a guy who likes guys and not girls. And now you’re going to get a sex change operation and be a girl. Now I’ve got to get used to a guy who’s now a girl who likes guys and not girls who used to be a guy who liked guys and not girls! But…I’ll try. From now on, I’ll try to look at ya as a person.

Jodie: And I’ll try to look at you the same way.

Though the character of Jodie Dallas would go through many extreme phases before becoming a three-dimensional representation of a gay man, Susan Harris’ intention to show him as exactly that was there from the very beginning.

As she told me: “I still get thanked for that character by gay people. I think it was the first time there was a homosexual on television who was portrayed as a human being. I would say out of all the characters, that was the one that had the most impact on people for that very reason.”

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