“The Golden Girls” were decades ahead of their time when it came to acceptance and social issues. Thirty-Five years ago they pushed for LGBTQ+ acceptance with storylines that included Blanche’s brother coming out as gay, and one special episode that involved a friend of Dorothy’s (pun intended) named Jean.
So Jean was married to Pat, who recently passed away. The other women in the house have been assuming that Pat was a man and Dorothy’s been unsure about what to say. Jean begins to have quite the crush on Rose. When trying to gauge if the housemates would be accepting, Dorothy has a conversation with her mother Sophia, where Sophia says, “I’ll tell you the truth Dorothy, if one of my kids were gay, I wouldn’t love him one bit less. I would wish him all the happiness in the world.”
Dorothy then tells Sophia that Jean is in love with Rose. This gets Dorothy and Sophia laughing, and when Blanche asks what’s so funny, they explain that Jean is a lesbian. Blanche doesn’t get what’s so funny and when Sophia asks if she’s surprised, Blanche replies, “Of course not! I mean, I haven’t known any personally, but isn’t Danny Thomas one?” Dorothy’s response: “Not Lebanese, Blanche! LES-BIA-N.”
So yes, the Lebanese joke used by Ellen in 1996 and Santana on “Glee” started way back when with “The Golden Girls.” And of course Sophia said it best, “Jean is a nice person. She happens to like girls instead of guys. Some people like cats instead of dogs. Frankly, I’d rather live with a lesbian than a cat… unless the lesbian sheds, that I don’t know!”