The Simpsons’ iconic anti-homophobia episode was almost banned before it even aired

The Simpsons. (20th Century Fox Television)

Acclaimed The Simpsons episode, “Homer’s Phobia” was almost censored by Fox because of its depiction gay content.

In the episode, the family makes a new friend who is gay, John, voiced by John Waters. Bart begins wearing flamboyant clothes and a wig, so Homer tries to assure his heterosexuality by taking him hunting.

At the end of the episode, John saves Homer and Bart’s lives after a bizarre hunting accident. Homer changes his mind and accepts John for his sexuality and tells Bart to accept him as well.

Bill Oakley, a showrunner for Fox, recently said they received extensive critiques from the network’s censors for “every single thing in the episode that had to do with being gay or the word ‘gay'”.

The feedback sheet was three pages long. The final line read: “The entire subject and content of this episode is unacceptable for air.”

Oakley and his colleague Josh Weinstein pushed forward with producing the episode anyway. In 1996, the studio cleared the episode for broadcast. It was first aired in February 1997.

The episode went on to win an Emmy Award for outstanding animated program and a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding TV.

It was the first episode of The Simpsons that predominantly focused on LGBT+ themes.

John Waters, who is gay in real life, said: “I’ve always said the only way to change anyone’s opinion is to make him laugh first.”

The Simpsons has been praised for its LGBT+ representation

Patty Bouvier, one of Marge’s sisters, came out as a lesbian in an episode in season 16, which aired in 2005.

In 2016, Smithers came out as gay, confessing his love for Mr Burns who rejects him. The episode entitled “The Burns Cage” also featured the openly gay George Takei, and references to Grindr.

Showrunner, Al Jean, also said that he sees Lisa Simpson “possibly polyamorous”. In season 23, one episode showed a future version of Lisa with two female partners, which led to the original fan theory.