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Showtime's "Dexter" Was Really Homophobic


Ash has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.


Dexter is a crime drama that aired on Showtime in 2006, and to be honest, I always noticed how homophobic the show was. It's just that now, binge-watching it again years later, I find it hard not to be annoyed by the reoccurring themes of homophobia. Mostly because at this point, I've been through too much as a gay person to not care that one of my favorite shows thinks I'm disgusting and abnormal -- a show about a serial killer, no less.

I mean, who the f*** is Dexter to judge me?

I need to say this, and I need strangers on the internet to read it: Dexter is a homophobic show.

I know, I know, I know.


The show has a character, Isaak Sirko, appear in Season 7 and Dexter appears to not care at all about him being a gay Russian mob guy.

But I always felt as if this was tacked on later in the show after the writers were criticized for having their characters repeatedly say and do homophobic things. I felt like they added Isaak to prove they weren't homophobic.

No one wanted them to prove they weren't homophobic, though. We just wanted you to stop being homophobic. Stop having the characters continuously say homophobic things. It's not that hard.

I realize there's a difference between a character being portrayed as homophobic and the writers themselves being homophobic. I am a writer. Of course I would understand this.

But I can't escape the feeling that the writers were homophobic themselves and were simply using their characters as a mouthpiece. Otherwise, why give Dexter a change of heart all the f****** way in Season 7?

Having a character who is bigoted in some way has to serve a point. Usually, when a character is racist or sexist just for the hell of it, that means they are being used by the writers as a mouthpiece.

Dexter and Deb are homophobic just for the hell of it. It's not an integral part of their backstory or their character development. They say and do homophobic things because the writers are homophobic.



In the show's pilot, Dexter is driving his car and doing the "Tonight's the night" monologue where he's hunting for a killer to kill. He makes an off-hand comment about how he's not gay and has a "sensible" notion of sexuality.

This is homophobic.

I remember always hating that line from the pilot (and all the subsequently homophobic lines thereafter), but I remember deciding to ignore it and just watch the show anyway. I mean, if I were to stop watching every show that had something offensive in it, I'd have nothing to watch. That was my logic at the time.

Now I have a no shit policy. Meaning, I no longer take shit from anyone -- not even a damned TV show. I am no longer going to glance over racism or sexism in my entertainment. If a show portrays that continuously, I just stop watching. Same for homophobia.

I guess I'm just tired of shrugging and ignoring things that are harmful to me. I guess I just . . . grew up.


Or how about the fact that Dexter goes to his high school reunion in Season 6 and meets his old girlfriend there. His girlfriend is now married to a woman, and it's played up as a joke.

As someone who dated a boy in high school because her homophobic mother -- and the entire homophobic world -- made her ashamed of who she was, I didn't find this funny at all. In fact, I found it f******* annoying that something that was such a tremendous struggle for me is being made light of.

The problem is, these jokes are being made by straight people, who have no idea what it's like to spend your entire life miserable and sexually repressed because of bigotry. My youth was wasted and I'll never get it back, will never be able to go back in time and give my love to the women who deserved it.

Straight people have the privilege of enjoying their sexuality without shame their entire lives. Then they turn around and mock us because they don't understand and don't care what we go through.

It's just shitty. And I'm just kinda tired of it.

Lumen gonna slap a bitch.

Lumen gonna slap a bitch.

Not only is Dexter homophobic, he's also sexist.

In Season 5, he constantly patronizes Lumen. She wants revenge on the men who assaulted her and she wants to fully participate in helping Dexter kill them.

Instead of allowing Lumen to become an equal partner -- like Miguel back in Season 3 -- Dexter instead treats her like a child because she's a woman. She is not an equal. She is an inferior in need of his coddling. It becomes clear when he tells her to stay behind and watch the car that he is only pretending to include her in the kills just to pacify her.

Predictably enough, Dexter goes inside the house and is almost killed. He is rescued by Lumen, who beats the crap out of the man who is trying to strangle him. As ever, a woman must prove she is a capable human being and not an object to protect.

To be fair to the writers, they depicted sexism well, in that they showed Dexter being sexist and then showed how foolish he was for it. They did no such thing with his homophobia -- at least not until Season 7. Which is what leads me to believe that the writers were just homophobic.


When Dexter's not saying anti-gay things, Deb is.

I can't remember everything she said, but I know there were a few times during the first three seasons where she said some unfortunate things about gay people and lesbians in particular that I found annoying enough to roll my eyes.

In one season, she even calls Masuka gay as an insult.

Kathrine Moennig is hot, though.

Kathrine Moennig is hot, though.

In Season 5, Deb gets hit on by a gay tattoo artist nicknamed Micheal Angelo.

The tattoo artist hits on her in a very subtle way. When they are shaking hands, she squeezes Deb's hand and invites her to return to the shop some time. This is a very subtle, respectful way of flirting with someone -- and yet, Deb acts as if she was just groped by a six-foot man.

Deb is flustered, embarrassed, frightened, disgusted, and threatens Masuka not to talk about it.

Deb. The woman who laughingly puts up with Masuka saying disgusting things to her all day, everyday.

As a lesbian, I'll never understand why straight women act like they've been assaulted after a lesbian respectfully shows an interest. Why is it that lesbians are feared and sneered at, while men can whistle at women, cat call, grope them, follow them, stalk them, rape them, and there isn't nearly as much fear and loathing?

What could a lesbian do to another a woman that a man can't do that is ten times worse?

Deb's disgusted reaction reminded me of all the straight women I've known, who treated me like a predator or something abnormal and nasty, when all I did was respectfully show an interest in them.


Because I have to live with it everyday, it's hard to watch it on a TV show that I love so much. Basically, I wasn't completely out of the closet the first time I watched Dexter. Now I am. And now I get to be treated like Micheal Angelo everyday by women like Deb.

Again, I believe the writers are homophobic because there's no reason for Deb to be homophobic. It's not a part of her past. It's not a part of her character development. It serves no purpose except for the writers to express their homophobia, only to back peddle in Season 7 and try to cover it up as if it never happened.

I'm not angry. I promise.

I'm not angry. I promise.

I'm not "overreacting" and I'm not "oversensitive" and I'm not "imagining" this or "projecting." As a lesbian who dealt with this all her life, I'm pretty ******* confident I can recognize homophobia when I see it, thanks.

I'm just tired of every aspect of my humanity being some kind of joke. I would love to be able to turn on a TV show and not have to sit there tensely waiting for something about me to be sneered at or joked about in the most insensitive way ever.

I'm tired of racism. I'm tired of sexism. I'm tired of homophobia. I'm tired of dealing with all three. And I'm tired of my favorite TV shows reinforcing these institutions by encouraging people to think and behave like assholes.

It doesn't really matter. I just wanted to throw my opinion out there in the stew pot. I'm not actually writing angry letters to the writers or protesting the show or something.

What would it accomplish? Dexter and its homophobia has been off the air for years now. And given how horrible the final season was, that is probably a blessing in more ways than one.

© 2019 Ash