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That ‘Simpsons’ Episode with John Waters Was Almost Too Gay for TV

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“Homer’s Phobia,” a beloved late-90s episode of The Simpsons featuring John Waters was almost deemed too gay for television by network censors.

The episode focuses on Homer’s discomfort over his family’s friendship with a campy curio shop owner played by Waters. Homer starts to worry about Bart’s sexuality and embarks upon an ill-fated quest to straighten him out.

The episode has become a classic (particularly for the memorable scene in which Homer and Bart visit an ultra-gay steel mill), but the censors almost kept it from ending up on TV. Why? Too gay.

The Ringer writes:

Typically, when the staff of The Simpsons submitted a script for approval, the censor responded with just a few notes. “It was always very mundane,” [showrunner Bill Oakley]said. Things like: “Please substitute for Homer’s use of the word ‘ass.’” But on “Homer’s Phobia,” the showrunners were sent back three pages containing dozens of notes that Oakley said concerned “every single thing in the episode that had to do with being gay or the word ‘gay.’” The document, he added, ended with this: “The entire subject and content of this episode is unacceptable for air.”

But the showrunners went ahead and recorded the episode anyway. Soon afterward, the Fox network got a new president and, apparently, a new, less homophobic censor. The episode went to air, thank goodness.