By Tiffany Mott-Smith
We had the opportunity to chat with Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva producer Josh Berman and comedienne starlet/queer icon, Margaret Cho about the episode that is sure to have viewers’ tongues wagging.
Drop Dead Diva is a show about a shallow model, Deb Dobkins, who after a fatal car crash wakes up to find her soul in the body of a dynamic plus sized attorney.
Airing Sunday July 21 at 9 p.m., this new episode takes us into the head and heart of a gay baseball player, played by Derek Smith who is pressured not to come out of his increasingly uncomfortable closet.
“I do think that sports is one of the last frontiers where men and women feel they unfortunately need to be closeted. So it was important for me to address that issue,” says Berman.
Cho’s character Terri, plays a special role in this episode and her dynamic with the cast is infectious.
“What I really love about this episode is that it really talks about an issue that’s very timely, which is, you know, athletes being able to come out of the closet, ” says Cho. ” I think sports in general are quite a homoerotic art form into itself. So it’s surprising that there’s not more out actually, but I love this episode because it really talks about some of these very current and obviously Josh had been working on it before we even heard from Jason Collins.”
Jason Collins, who came out in May of this year, became the first openly gay professional basketball player in the history of the sport. Berman, Cho, as well as a host of entertainers, fans, and LGBT advocates have commented on the bravery it takes to come out in the arena of professional sports. This is especially true of athletes on teams where even openly supporting LGBT rights equates to sanctions by team leadership and elected officials alike. NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo found this out first hand after publicly supporting marriage equality.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…likely the same thing I was thinking heading into this conversation with Cho and Berman. What about Brittany Griner? What about Megan Rapinoe? What about all the incredibly talented, brave, and *ahem*, wildly attractive women in professional sports who have been out for years?
Cho was quick to appease me.
“There is a lot of sexism when it comes to this kind of stuff because Martina Navratilova came out as a lesbian over 25 years ago. Martina Navratilova came out when Reagan was in office,” noted Cho. “I really want to make sure that her contribution to sports, to the LGBT presence in sports is really noted.”
“I think in the lesbian community it’s always been a very big thing to be active in sports, I think, because the women that I grew up with we were all really into finding a way to power and finding a way that we could be powerful in the world where we were often considered second class citizens,” said Cho of queer presence in sports. “So athleticism has a great importance in the gay community. Even if you feel like you’re different from everybody else you shouldn’t be robbed of your potential.”
With guest stars like Sandra Bernhardt and Cho’s admittedly happy rival Kathy Griffin, the cast and production team of Drop Dead Diva are powering through their sixth season of story lines and comedic drama strong. Sunday’s episode looks to be no exception.