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Gay TV Characters

Matt Fielding (Doug Savant), "Melrose Place" (1992)

Unlike many of the TV characters who had come before him, Matt Fielding was openly gay from the get-go on "Melrose Place." He had no phony girlfriends hanging around, and even though he married a woman named Katya, he only did it so that she could get her green card.

When most of the residents of the show's scandalous apartment complex were wrapped up in hot and heavy love affairs, Matt was more of the conscience. A social worker at the L.A. Halfway House for Teens, he was most often used to tackle tough topics. He was a victim of gay bashing in one episode and fired from his job, which led to a sexual discrimination suit in another.

Over the years, Matt did have his romances -- although his scenes never crossed into the steamy territory. He dated a sailor who was dismissed from service after Matt persuaded him to come out. Then he had an affair with a married doctor named Paul, who killed his wife and tried to pin the murder on Matt. He never did find true love. His one big onscreen kiss was viewed as so controversial that it was cut from the episode.

Savant married his "Melrose Place" co-star Laura Leighton in 1998. They're still together and have two kids.

The Evolution of Gay TV Characters

There was once a time when portraying a gay character on a TV show was taboo. As the American public becomes more accepting of nontraditional couples, same-sex relationships have been increasingly common in sitcoms and dramas. And they are no longer stereotypes added in for a cheap laugh but instead an important part of their shows, portrayed with depth and range. From "Modern Family" to "Revenge," TV's not just about straight folks anymore. Here's a rundown of the evolution of gay characters on TV. — Amy and Nancy Harrington, Yahoo! Contributor Network