One Life to Live - Billy Douglas (Ryan Phillippe)
1992

Synopsis:
Ryan appeared on One Life to Live during the summer of 1992. Ryan's role was a breakthrough one: daytime television's first gay teenager. Ryan plays Billy Douglas, newcomer to the town of Llanview.

Billy is reluctant to tell anyone of his homosexuality, especially his parents. He is able, however, to confide in the town's pastor, Andrew. And then, due to the scheming of a woman Andrew scorned, rumors fly around town, that the pastor is a homosexual and has made advances on Billy.

The town quickly displays it's homophobia, with Billy's parents leading the way, demanding for the removal of Reverend Andrew from the parish. Upon witnessing the town's reaction Billy is now even more afraid to reveal his secret. Yet his silence only draws Andrew into deeper criticism.

It all comes down to a dramatic moment when the town meets at the parish where Andrew gives a riveting speech on the disease of prejudice and homophobia. Billy takes a public stand, against his father and in support of Andrew.

Comments:

A young Ryan displays his acting chops with his performance as Billy Douglas. Ryan is called upon to perform a number of difficult scenes, but none are as memorable as Billy's "coming out" to his parents. Billy shows bravery as he reveals his homosexuality to his parents so reluctant to hear his words. Ryan's strong performance is a gutsy one as well. Kudos to him for taking on a controversial role at such a young point in his career.

One Life to Live Could be a Gay One Says Popular Soap
June 12, 1992

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation applauds ABC's One Life to Live for featuring a gay character. Though Billy Douglas isn't the first gay character to appear on a daytime drama, the teenager's arrival in the fictional town of Llanview marks the first time a soap opera has featured a long-term story line dealing with homosexuality. "Lesbian and gay characters on television disappear after a single episode," said Chris Fowler, Executive Director of GLAAD/Los Angeles. "We need ongoing, major characters on television to reflect the complexity of our experience."

"The truth is that there are boys like Billy Douglas living in small towns all over America," observed Ellen Carton, Executive Director of GLAAD/New York. "We are delighted that One Life to Live is finally going to make the lives and accomplishments of lesbian and gay teenagers more visible."

Ryan Phillipe, the heterosexual actor who will play the role of Billy Douglas, said that he was initially hesitant about accepting the role. He decided to take it after learning about the high rate of suicide among lesbian and gay teenagers.

One Life to Live will not reveal the plots of the upcoming episodes, but executive producer Linda Gottlieb promises that the story line will deal with the homophobia lesbian and gay teens commonly face. GLAAD also hopes that the episodes will include a love interest for Billy. "Daytime drama centers around the romantic lives of its characters," pointed out Byron Potts, Co-chair of GLAAD/San Francisco Bay Area. "It is fitting that they lead the way in affirming that everyone has the right to love whomever he or she chooses."

Andrew fights homophobia
Summer 1992

The spread of homophobia in Llanview coincided with two key events: first, the arrival of Andrew's father General Sloan Carpenter (Roy Thinnes), who had been diagnosed with Hodgkins disease and had come to town to make peace with his son. Andrew decided that while he had his father around he would try to make Sloan face the truth about his other son; Andrew's brother William, who had died of AIDS (William was also gay) The other key event was the appearance of trouble d gay teen Billy Douglas (Ryan Phillipe) who moved to town and quickly became friends with Joey. After he told Joey that he was gay, Joey was initially shocked and confused, but later accepted it and remained good friends with Billy.

One day, Billy made a decision: he was going to come out of the closet with his parents - he went to Andrew for advice. Andrew urged the boy to follow his heart and placed a hand reassuringly on Billy's shoulder. At that moment, troubled young troublemaker Marty Saybrooke (Susan Haskell) glanced in the door to the rectory and saw Billy and Andrew. Marty had been trying to seduce Andrew for weeks, but he had refused her advances. Jealous and furious to see Andrew caring for someone else when it appeared he didn't care about her, Marty formulated a horrific lie that turned the town upside-down. Going to Billy's parents, she told them that Andrew was a homosexual and was making advances toward Billy. Horrified, the Douglases immediately took action, demanding Andrew's resignation.

Once the rumor hit town, it spread like wildfire. Hate erupted everywhere - a rock was thrown through the community center ... Cassie, who was dating Andrew, received notes referring to Andrew as her "fag lover". Bigots threw dirt at Andrew and Sloan and spraypainted the rectory with graffiti. Sloan and the vestry board of St. James (Renee and Viki excluded) urged Andrew to come out and proclaim his heterosexuality. But, apart from maintaining that he did NOT try to molest Billy, Andrew refused to disclose that information. He argued that people's sexual preferences were nobody's business and that the right to privacy had to be respected. Furthermore, he arranged for the AIDS Quilt to come to Llanview and planned to add his brother's name to the quilt. This enraged Sloan and the members of the church who didn't want a "freak flag" displayed on the church lawn. But Andrew pushed on with his plans and Viki tried to get Sloan to accept them.

But the controversy refused to die out, as the new police commissioner asked lieutenant Maggie Vega (Yvette Lawrence) to name all the gay police officers in the squad. Andrew realized that the only way to end the hate was to get Marty Saybrooke to admit to her lies. But Marty refused to do so, turning self-destructive instead.

The day of the Quilt ceremony, an angry parishioner confronted Andrew outside the rectory and beat him, even as Andrew held up his Bible to defend himself. Hours later, a bruised and battered Andrew arrived at the church, ready to move on with the ceremony. But there was a crowd of church members on the steps, barring his entrance. He was no longer allowed in the church, they said, because he was a "pervert" and was seducing innocent children. Billy screamed at his parents to let Andrew through and he, Joey, Cassie and Andrew marched into the church. Sloan followed in hesitantly with Viki.

Inside the church, Andrew launched into a stirring tribute about the right to privacy, about the destructive power of hate and about the poor people who died of the AIDS virus. By the end of his sermon, Andrew had won a good portion of the crowd over. He had not, however, won over Mr. Douglas, who urged the parishioners to take back their church. It was then that Billy Douglas stood up and announced that he was gay. His father screamed for him to shut up and sit down, but Virginia Douglas rushed to her son and promised that she'd love him forever.

Andrew led the procession outside to the church lawn, where the AIDS ceremony was just getting underway. Among the tears of those who lost a friend or family member to AIDS, Andrew brought William's quilt to its new home. A hand fell on his shoulder. It was Sloan - he wanted to help lay the panel. Sloan then told Andrew all about his relationship with William. Sloan took William, as a boy, to the beach one day and taught him how to fly a kite. William was not a strong, athletic boy and the kite soon got caught in the trees. Sloan had been so enraged that his son had failed to master something so simple as a kite, he had slapped him. From that day forward, the bond between father and son had been broken. Crying and begging forgiveness from his beloved son William, Andrew and Viki comforted him. Then, together, they laid the quilt.

Llanview did not magically heal after that day - Billy still suffered bigotry at school - but Andrew had succeeded in turning Llanview from a town of fear and hate into a town of acceptance. After that day, Cassie and Andrew's relationship was stronger than ever, while Sloan and Viki were beginning to acknowledge feelings for each other

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