In a recent episode of Fox’s The Simpsons, “The Burns Cage,” Waylon Smithers Jr. (voice of Harry Shearer) comes out of the closet to Mr. Burns. Burns, not gay, isn’t interested in Smithers’ advances, so Homer Simpson (voice of Dan Castellaneta) decides to find Smithers a boyfriend. Yes, that’s right, in Season 27, Smithers, after many years of dreamy infatuation with Mr. Burns, comes out as a gay character.

Bringing an idea he had two or three years ago to our television screen now, show writer Rob LaZebnik uses the storyline to confirm his love and support of his own son, 21-year-old Johnny, who is gay. Only in “Hollyweird,” am I right? Predictably, the storyline is also a piece of political activism: Rob says gay storylines, even on cartoons, are important. “Sometimes TV can have a real impact on people’s thinking,” he says. FULL REPORT