Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer are fictional characters and a supercouple from the American CBS daytime drama As The World Turns. Luke is portrayed by Van Hansis, and Noah is portrayed by Jake Silbermann. On Internet message boards, the couple is referred to by the portmanteaus "Nuke" (for Noah and Luke) and "Loah" (for Luke and Noah). They are notable for being one of American daytime television's first gay male couples.
The two made history on August 17 2007, when the show "featured the first-ever" gay male kiss in American daytime. The YouTube video of the kiss was one of the top-watched the following day. The now legendary kiss stands as one of the most viewed selections in the history of YouTube with over 1 million hits.
There have been gay male characters on U.S. daytime television before. One Life to Live's Billy Douglas (portrayed by a young Ryan Phillippe) is one example. But when Noah Mayer arrived in Oakdale in June 2007 and entranced resident gay character Luke Snyder, CBS's As the World Turns "became the first soap to depict a fully realized romantic male couple as an integral part of the show."
Noah was at first presented as heterosexual and devoted to girlfriend Maddie Coleman. This, however, quickly began to change. The writers had always planned for Noah to be revealed as gay, the storyline, his interaction with Luke, promised to viewers as the start of a depiction of a healthy gay male romance.
After spending time with Luke, Noah was seen struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, often angry and confused. Luke and Noah's portrayers, Hansis and Silbermann, spoke with magazine The Advocate about the attention the storyline has generated.
"The fan response has been really great to both the individual characters and where we're taking the relationship," Silbermann stated. "Noah and Luke were voted top couple in a Soap Opera Digest poll. The funny thing is, a lot of people want them to be happy, but a lot want them to suffer heartache and tragedy — because that's what couples on daytime TV do. It's a good sign, actually."
Hansis relayed that "it does throw you a bit, especially since this was [his] first big role on television. You go from waiting tables to doing interviews with national magazines and people saying that you changed their lives. It's definitely tricky."
When further detailing his shock at the depth his character's romance with Luke would have on people, Silbermann cited his honest disbelief: "I knew what the role was when I signed on," he stated. "But I guess I'm jaded — I honestly didn't think it would get so much press. Of course, I'm grateful and honored to be telling this story and doing it in an interesting and respectful way."
Actors have been known to bring some part of their real experience into the roles they portray. Hansis and Silbermann are no exception, and detailed what, if anything, they find useful in their own lives in creating Luke and Noah. Hansis explained: "Luke is all about the need to be loved and accepted. I think that need is universal. Life is about acceptance from the people who you want to love you. If that means family, a wife, a husband, a girlfriend/boyfriend, a best friend, you just want people to love you for who you are. Anyone can relate to that."
Silbermann cited a somewhat different take: "I don't bring any specific experiences to Noah. I think we can all relate to an unrequited love or a romance filled with obstacles. That's really all this story is."
As the World Turns executive producer Chris Goutman stated in a WGN radio interview that Hansis and Silbermann are "both very modest actors." He cited their ability to show the proper emotions in a very subtle and effective way (i.e. Luke's knowing smile and longing look at Noah, Noah's inner pain and fear of his father). When asked if they rehearse together to decide which facial expressions they will use to convey these emotions in a given scene, Hansis replied, "No. We rehearse together to make sure we have the lines right. But it's not usually about the acting, its just running lines. The acting comes when the cameras are on. We are comfortable with each other as actors, so if one of us does something new during taping, the other just rolls with it and it usually creates some nice moments."
Addressing the couple's possibility of marriage, children, and divorce, Hansis pondered "why can't people on soaps just date?" He relayed that "maybe five years down the line they should have a kid, but not now." Hansis further cited, "College has a whole slew of potential soap-worthy storylines. I think a lot of cool stories could come out of that."
Silbermann, on the other hand, voiced his lack of knowledge of what is in store for the couple. He did, however, state the audience "can assume it won't be smooth sailing."
Hansis clarified: "We have no idea what's happening until we get the scripts, which happens about a week in advance. We can talk to the producers if we want. I have done that once or twice, but they keep the writers and actors pretty separate."
Hansis and Silbermann cited their offscreen friendship when describing their ease in portraying intimate scenes between Luke and Noah. "It makes them easier," Hansis conveyed. "Jake is a good friend. I know he's got my back and is not going to make me look like an ass onscreen. I hope I return the favor. I think we work well together and I couldn't have asked for a cooler person to play opposite. Jake is just very down to earth and funny and open to different ideas. It makes every scene very comfortable."
Silbermann added, "I think we had become friends before the first kiss so not really. If anything, I think it makes it more comfortable."
Luke Snyder realizes that he is gay after accepting that he has romantic feelings for his best friend, Kevin Davis. However, when Luke "comes out" to Kevin, he calls Luke a faggot and breaks off their friendship. Though Luke saves him from drowning in a lake and Kevin apologizes for the hateful slur, their friendship is never the same. After this, Luke swears not to fall for another straight or unavailable guy again.
In June 2007, Luke and his friend, Maddie Coleman, are working as interns at WOAK, a local television station in Oakdale. They quickly meet their fellow intern, Noah Mayer. From the start, Luke does not like Noah. In fact, Luke believes Noah to be an arrogant, spoiled brat. However, after spending some time with him, Luke realizes that he has developed romantic feelings for Noah, breaking his vow to himself. Luke keeps his distance and is more than hurt while on a trip to Branson, Missouri, he finds Noah together in bed with Maddie. Noah wrongly suspects that Luke wants Maddie, and Luke reveals his sexual identity to Noah in an effort to prove that he does not. A few weeks later, he confesses his feelings of attraction to Noah, telling him about his past experience with Kevin and his efforts to avoid falling for another unavailable guy. Noah makes it clear to Luke that while he, like Kevin, is not gay, unlike Kevin, he does not want to lose Luke as a friend.
Having somewhat resolved their issues, Luke, Noah and Maddie decide to go swimming at the Snyder Farm pond, but Maddie receives a phone call and has to leave. Luke offers Noah the chance to bow out of swimming, but Noah insists, and they go to swim by themselves. After the swim, Noah jokes, saying that Luke is soaking up the place and throws a towel at him. In the subsequent towel-tug of war, Noah falls against Luke and the two lock eyes, seemingly unwilling to move away from each other. Maddie walks in, but does not think anything other than innocent horseplay has been going on. Noah appears to be uncomfortable with what has just happened and convinces Maddie to go out for food as a couple, leaving Luke alone and questioning what just happened between him and Noah. In an effort to shore up his relationship with Maddie, Noah convinces her to think about staying in Oakdale for college.
After much thinking, Maddie decides to stay in Oakdale with Noah. An angry Luke argues with Maddie about throwing her future away for a guy she just met. Luke then tries to talk to Noah about the swimming incident, but Noah denies anything happened, affirming that he is not gay. Maddie interrupts Luke and Noah's conversation, and Maddie and Noah leave.
Noah's dad, Army Colonel Winston Mayer, shows up at WOAK out of the blue, surprising Noah, and meeting Maddie for the first time. The colonel asks them to join him for lunch, telling Noah to put on a tie and for them to meet him in an hour.
Luke comes back to the station with food as an apology for his behavior in front of Noah and Maddie the day before. Noah then realizes that he has lost track of time and has not gotten a tie. Luke goes to retrieve him one, while Noah finishes getting ready. Noah panics and cannot get the tie right and Luke offers to do it for him. Luke adjusts the tie and looks up to see Noah eyeing him strangely. He asks, "What's wrong?" Noah responds, "Nothing," then leans in and kisses Luke. Surprised, Luke pulls back at first, then gives in and kisses back. They are interrupted by a phone call from Noah's father, angrily reminding Noah that he is late. Hanging up and making small talk, Noah tries to convince Luke that the kiss was just a joke, his way of getting Luke to loosen up, but Luke asserts that they both know it was more than that. A frustrated Noah tells Luke not to make more out of it than it is, then rushes off to lunch.
Noah asks Maddie if she will move in together with him when they start college in the fall. She agrees and later returns to WOAK after lunch, and tells Luke about her new plans to move in with Noah. Realizing that this is the second time Noah has done something to shore up his relationship with Maddie after a close moment with him, Luke decides that he needs to tell Maddie about the kiss. However, Colonel Mayer interrupts their conversation, and eventually Luke decides that he does not want to reveal Noah's secret. Noah's father, however, presses Luke to share what is so important for Maddie to know, just as Noah walks in. Luke manages to get out of telling them about the kiss. Noah, before walking off, turns and thanks Luke for not revealing what truly happened.
Noah returns to WOAK, and admits to Luke that he did mean to kiss him. But he also tells Luke that it can never happen again, saying that while it is fine for Luke to be gay, it is not acceptable for him. Luke keeps trying to convince Noah that he needs to deal with his sexuality, if not for his sake, then for Maddie's. Citing their friendship, Noah asks Luke to keep what happened between them a secret. Luke reminds Noah that his actions are eventually going to hurt Maddie. The two end up close, and it seems they will kiss again, but Maddie interrupts them, and this time she is suspicious. She calls the pair out on their lies about what is going on, and demands the truth, saying that since Luke is gay, she knows they cannot be stuck in a sordid love triangle. Luke and Noah both share half-truths about what is upsetting them, and it is sufficient enough to calm Maddie down and get them all out of the discussion.
At Oakdale University, Noah sees Luke sharing coffee with another gay student. After facing questions about the other student from Noah, Luke quickly calls him out on his jealousy. Luke then asserts that once the intern project is over, they will go their separate ways, because he needs to find someone who is available to him. Noah asks why they cannot at least be friends, and Luke responds by asking if they were ever really friends. After a conversation with Winston, Maddie's brother Henry shares with Maddie his concerns that the colonel is homophobic, letting her know that the colonel also seems to think something is going on between Luke and Noah. She responds angrily. Henry apologizes and tries to take back what he said, but Maddie is not able to leave it alone.
Suspicious, Maddie approaches Luke at WOAK and asks him if there is anything going on between him and Noah. When Luke says that she has to ask Noah that, she knows the truth. At first unable to face Noah after the revelation, she and Noah soon break up, with Noah furious at Luke.
After Noah tells his father about his breakup with Maddie, the colonel threatens Luke to stay away from his son, and later follows up with a similar threat to Luke's mother Lily. After a last ditch effort to reconcile with Maddie, Noah comes to terms with his sexuality, and calls Luke to the station to apologize and thank him. The colonel decides to leave town, mistakenly believing Noah and Maddie are back together. Believing his father had left, and comfortable being out to Luke and Maddie, Noah shares another kiss with Luke. However, his father had not yet left town, and walks in on them. Colonel Mayer disowns his son, but later tells Maddie he will not lose Noah. Noah decides to confront his father, and tells him that he is happy with who he is. His father seems to come around, and apologizes to the Snyders for how he had behaved. He invites Noah and Luke on a fishing trip. Once there, he attempts to shoot Luke, but only manages to push him down a hill. The timely arrival of Noah and Luke's parents keeps the colonel from killing Luke.
Luke's fall results in swelling around his spine, and he is unable to feel his legs. Feeling that Luke will blame him, Noah stays away, leaving Luke devastated. However, Noah is eventually convinced to visit Luke, which finally lifts his spirits. Luke says that he wants Noah to be his boyfriend, and Noah begins to try to help Luke with his recovery.
Weeks pass by, and as Noah is helping Luke with his physical therapy one day, Luke realizes he has some feeling in his legs. Soon afterwards, Noah finds out that his father is being moved to a different prison. Luke urges him to tell his father how he feels about him before he is transferred. During their heated confrontation, in which Noah defends Luke to his father, Luke manages to stand up from the wheelchair and tells Colonel Mayer that he loves Noah. Noah has Thanksgiving dinner with Luke's family (who are going through a variety of problems due to Luke's parents' impending divorce).
Things become awkward between Luke and Noah, which Luke attributes to his saying that he loves Noah. He is uncertain of Noah's feelings, not knowing if Noah loves him or does not know if he loves him or if he (Luke) has ruined everything. His father reassures him that if Noah calls Luke his boyfriend and spends a major holiday with him, their relationship is going well.
Alone with Noah, Luke brings up his previous declaration of love and says that he feels as though he always says the things that Noah cannot say or does not want to say. Noah acts awkward and says that he does not want Luke to take it back, but does not manage to be of much comfort to Luke. Luke's father advises Luke that he should be patient with Noah, who is still getting used to the idea of being gay.
When Luke again tells Noah that he loves him, he becomes frustrated when Noah does not return the words. But on Christmas, Noah, still unable to say the words, does give Luke a card that expresses to him that Noah does love him. Luke and Noah begin to take their relationship to the next level.
As they prepare to start their next semester in college, Noah suggests that the two of them get an apartment together. Luke thinks that it will be better that they live in the dorms, as roommates. Noah, however, is persistent on living together. He confesses that Luke is his family and that when they are together, he does not feel alone, and that he is afraid of losing that. Luke later suggests that Noah move into the farmhouse with him and his family, and Noah accepts.
Shortly thereafter, the pair meet Ameera Ali Aziz, a young woman from Iraq, whose mother had a relationship with Noah's father when he was stationed there. She remembers a very different man than the one Noah and Luke describe. Colonel Mayer was kind to her and her mother, even protecting them from death. She has come to the United States to seek his assistance, but her temporary visa is set to expire, her money is running out, and she fears for her life if she has to return to Iraq. On a trip to visit Colonel Mayer in prison, the group is attacked because Ameera is from Iraq, and Luke and Noah are gay. Noah ends up being hospitalized briefly.
Luke and Noah decide to take Ameera out for a night on the town, only to be approached by officers with the Department of Homeland Security. They have informed Ameera that her visa is expired and that she will have to leave the country. In order the help Ameera stay in the country, Noah decides that he should marry Ameera. Luke asks Noah if it is indeed a marriage in name only or does he want to go back into the closet. Noah assures Luke that it is a marriage in name only and for the first time tells Luke that he loves him.
Noah and Ameera marry in the Snyder family's yard, and Luke and Noah are forced to hide their relationship in public in order to make Noah and Ameera's marriage look legitimate for the Homeland Security officers, who are still observing them. Ameera has made friends with Casey Hughes, and they are approached by a Homeland Security officer as they have coffee together. In order to throw him off guard, Luke claims that Casey is his boyfriend, which does not make Casey particularly pleased. Noah, however, thinks the idea could work: if Homeland Security believes that Noah and Ameera are a lovingly married couple and Luke and Casey are involved with each other, they will be less suspicious if Casey and Ameera are seen together.
Casey's friend Will Munson and his wife Gwen are moving from Oakdale; at their going-away party, it is decided that Noah and Ameera should live in Will and Gwen's old house, as having their own residence will make the marriage look more authentic.
Noah and Ameera move into the cottage and are helped by Casey and Luke. But when it looks like Noah and Luke might get some alone time together after all, the ICE agent steps in and Ameera sneaks from the back door to pretend everything is OK. Luke is frustrated with the whole arrangement and the fact that he and Noah could not be together, while Ameera seems to be feeling bad that she is left of out "parts of Noah's life".
Noah and Ameera are shown to wake up from the same bed. Ameera, like the dutiful wife that she wants to be, waits on Noah during breakfast and is pleasantly surprised and happy when Noah helps her with the chores and explains that husbands and wives share the duties in America. Luke thinks that making a movie about their lives will allow he and Noah to spend more time together and also come up with a way of fooling the ICE agent. Ameera is enthused by this, but when she is asked to talk about her past, gets very upset and stops midway. Luke is mad at Noah when he wants to comfort Ameera and sees them in an embrace when he exits the house. It is soon after this that the two have their third on-screen kiss, while shopping for a birthday present for Ameera.
Soon after Ameera and Noah begin living together and creating the film of their life, Ameera gets a phone call from the prison where Colonel Mayer is being held. After learning this, Noah decides to go to the prison alone after what happened last time they tried to go. He gets a chance to talk to his father and tells him that he and Ameera are married much to the Colonel's satisfaction, but the Colonel also learns that Noah and Luke are still together and this angers him. Noah returns to the cottage believing he had fixed everything and goes on living with Ameera and fighting off her advances.
While cleaning, Noah finds a letter that his father wrote to him several months before. He assumes that Ameera had some involvement in it, and he begins to worry. Later he and Luke find a note that reads:
Dear Noah, Your kindness and friendship has meant so much to me, but I know now that I was asking too much of you. I have found another way to stay in the country so you can go back to the life you had before with Luke. When it is time we can have our marriage annulled. -Ameera
After reading this the boys are unbelievably happy at the idea of being alone, and start to become intimate with each other. Not long after this begins, the police knock at their door and tell them that Colonel Mayer had escaped from prison. Worried that he had kidnapped Ameera or planned to hurt Luke, Noah immediately tracks down where his father is located (New York City) and goes to try to save Ameera. Luke, scared and alone, books a flight not long after Noah's.
In New York, a street musician tells Noah where to meet the man that he believes is a detective from Oakdale trying to help him, but only if he abandons Luke. On his way, Winston grabs Noah and pulls him into the basement where he's been keeping Ameera. Luke soon finds Ameera and she tells him of the Colonels plans. Winston kidnaps Ameera again, and the two jet off on a boat. Noah jumps onto the boat in the hopes of saving Ameera, but when Winston see's Luke and Lucinda at the port, he jumps off and kills himself.
When Luke and Noah return to Oakdale, things become very tense between the two. Noah blames Luke for his fathers death and asks to take a break in the relationship. This frustrates Luke and eventually he just suggests the two break up.
Cyndi Lauper comes in town on her True Colors Tour and Luke interviews her for the Oakdale University newspaper. When Noah and another boy enter the club where he and Cyndi are sitting, he is very upset and Cyndi promises to help the two of them. She dedicates the set to Luke, and invites him up on stage during the singing of True Colors. Noah pulls Luke outside and tells him that he wants to be with him, sharing another one of their rare kisses. Soon after this, Noah reveals to Luke that he has enlisted in the army. Luke thinks that this is a bad idea and tries to persuade him.
While Noah is enlisting, Luke tells the recruitment officers that the two are a couple and they remind Noah of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. In his final interview, Noah reveals his sexuality and returns to the farm to be with Luke.
Noah begins living at the Snyder farm again, and the two are obviously frustrated with Emma's rule against them being in the same bed. When Luke learns of his fathers infidelity towards his mother, he leans on Noah more for strength and feels that he and Noah should be able to sleep together.
Luke is entitled to a portion of his biological father's money, but he doesn't want the money and claims it is "dirty". Lucinda is appalled and ask him to reconsider this choice of his. Luke agrees on receiving the money with the condition that it will be used it a charity foundation. Luke, Noah, and Lucinda start working on the foundation and hire Brian to help.
Brian warns Luke that in the philanthropy world people would not be accepting of Luke and Noah's relationship. Luke is mad at Brian for he believes he is forcing Luke "back in the closet".
After missing Aaron's party Luke is ashamed that he made Noah and himself miss this event. Noah says that it is okay, because he loves Luke "more than anything".
Same-sex couples on broadcast television are unusual still today. This factor adds to the reason why the inclusion of one is often considered "a very big deal." Add a gay male teen couple on a daytime soap opera, and "that constitutes an actual milestone in gay visibility," states Michael Jensen, Editor of AfterElton.com, a website that focuses on the portrayal of gay and bisexual men in the media.
In 2007, CBS's As the World Turns "made that breakthrough when Luke Snyder (Van Hansis) fell hard for newcomer Noah Mayer (Jake Silbermann). And viewers fell just as hard for the couple, quickly naming them Nuke as their growing popularity helped to push the show’s ratings up." They became so popular that a poll named them "the most popular couple on ATWT and one of the seven hottest couples on all of daytime television."
Groundbreaking kiss and romanceEdit
On August 17 2007, Luke helped close friend Noah adjust his tie. Their eyes met. Without warning, and in close-up, the two young men kissed full on the lips. The five-second kiss between Luke and Noah made history as the first gay male kiss on American daytime television. The guy-on-guy kiss "sizzled screens across America and sent the Internet into a tizzy." Fans of the soap opera were divided on whether the liplock was a step forward or a sign of national moral decay. But the kiss is now legendary, and stands as one of the most viewed videos in the history of YouTube. Over 1 million views have been given to the liplock.
Not long after the kiss, TV Guide named the couple one of soap opera's best supercouples, and Entertainment Weekly listed their kiss as one of the Landmark moments in Gay Hollywood, later titling the pairing as one of the greatest supercouples in the genre's history.
More than six months after the kiss, Luke and Noah had "overcome Noah's sexual confusion and his stern, homophobic father, who shot Luke on a camping trip, temporarily confining him to a wheelchair. Noah nursed Luke back to health and helped him get back on his feet again. From there, their affection for each other blossomed."
Since their love story began, the ratings for As the World Turns have risen considerably. The serial was near the bottom of the ratings competition in 2007, but now regularly ranks third behind The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful in the daytime Nielsens. This vastly contrasts from 1989, when As the World Turns sent a gay character away after protests from religious groups.
"I don't see it as that big a deal," Hansis stated. "I was just stoked to get a steady job as an actor."
"There aren't many gay characters on daytime," Silbermann relayed. "It means a lot to know that this story is part of something."
YouTube and influence on other countriesEdit
In large part due to the internet, both actors have received mail from viewers in countries that do not air As the World Turns. "YouTube now hosts a version of the Luke and Noah storyline that is edited by fans. In countries where it may not be OK to be gay, people hungry to see themselves accurately portrayed onscreen can go to YouTube and follow the 'Nuke' storyline in sequence," stated David Alexander Nahmod of Bay Area Reporter.
"Some producers balk at having their material posted at free sites like YouTube," Nahmod added. "Producers of the former NBC soap Passions, which now airs on DirectTV's The 101 as a subscription-only service, recently pulled its episodes off of YouTube. Likewise, episodes of British soap Coronation Street were also pulled from YouTube. But CBS is happy to let the Luke and Noah love story stay on the file sharing sites because it's good free publicity for the show. Many gay viewers, for example, who are introduced to the Luke and Noah storyline on the internet may become interested in the whole show and start tuning into the CBS broadcasts. CBS also offers its own online broadcast of the show and www.CBS.com/daytime/ATWT."
However, Lisa Lugassy, press representative for As the World Turns, cited that [they] prefer people to watch the CBS airings. "It's the CBS audience, and not the online viewers, who give us our ratings," she informed."
Hansis and Silbermann have acknowledged that they would like to do other acting projects when time permits, but that they are happy and content with the jobs they have now.
"I hope to be playing Luke for a long, long time to come," assured Hansis.
Controversy and praiseEdit
Kiss debate, campaign and the media attentionEdit
Some months after their famous liplock and additional second kiss, Luke and Noah's time together was drastically reduced. However, time spent in each other's company was then changed to once again include more scenes of the two of them together, with the most significant changes being that the pairing was no longer seen kissing onscreen, and any intimate interaction that took place onscreen between the couple was now showcased in the form of hugs, longing stares, talks and cut-away kisses (kisses that the viewers do not see but almost get a glimpse of as the camera pans away or cuts to another scene). Frustrated, fans of the pairing organized what they called the "Kiss Campaign", hoping to coax CBS and Procter & Gamble Productions into giving Luke and Noah another onscreen liplock.
"Soaps, like all businesses, live and die by consumer response to a product," campaign founder Jerome wrote at AfterElton.com. "And while email complaint letters certainly get noticed, it's the more-grandiose gestures that usually succeed in eliciting a response." In a different campaign, Jerome was responsible for the decision to have fans of the television series Jericho send thousands of nuts to network executives in order to get the once-canceled show back on the air, and advised Luke-Noah supporters to flood CBS Daytime Programs Senior Vice President Barbara Bloom with Hershey's Kisses. "The symbolism," Jerome noted, "is obvious."
Word of the kiss campaign soon spread to prominent media outlets such as The Boston Globe and the Associated Press. "Once upon a time, in the melodramatic environs of CBS's As the World Turns, there was a boy named Luke and another boy named Noah, and they fell in love. They shared in self-discovery, made it through a trying time when Luke was paralyzed from the waist down, celebrated his miraculous recovery, and kissed onscreen. Twice."
"Then they stopped kissing. And some fans were happy. And some fans got very, very angry," stated Boston Globe reporter Joanna Weiss.
Addressed was that fans of the romance, referred to as Luke-and-Noah champions by Boston Globe, pointed to two major near-misses since their two onscreen liplocks. Once, during an episode of the soap opera near Christmas, Luke and Noah moved toward a kiss, and the camera quickly panned to a mistletoe, an event dubbed "Mistletoegate" by frustrated and disappointed fans. Then, on a very special Valentine's Day episode, every other couple on the show shared a kiss. Luke and Noah hugged.
Boston Globe relayed that AfterElton.com created a running ticker of the time that had elapsed since Luke and Noah last kissed on the lips onscreen. At press time, it was 157 days and running. Also noted was Luke-and-Noah supporters having launched a publicity drive, blitzing reporters with long, heartfelt statements about their feelings for the pairing.
"We appreciate so much that the show is doing this," stated George Hinds, 29, a youth employment counselor in Cambridge who helps run the fansite lukeandnoahfans.com, and praises the show for airing daytime TV's first gay kiss. "The campaign is really here to let them know we think it's time to move forward. We think America can handle it."
The producers of the show, however, have faced what is a sensitive subject in telling the story. "We're trying to make a show that appeals to our entire audience," said Jeannie Tharrington, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble Productions, which produces the series. Tharrington has been receiving complaints and applause from all sides since Luke and Noah's romance first began.
The recent changes, she voiced, have come "because of some of the feedback that we've gotten, and because of what we thought was best for the show creatively."
Boston Globe detailed that gay characters on television are common by now, both on cable and on network shows such as ABC's hit drama Brothers and Sisters, pointing out that Luke and Noah follow in a long tradition of daytime soap characters with coming-out stories and with daytime talk show hosts such as Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres, both openly gay, having attracted broad fan bases.
Luke and Noah have talked about love, have had conversations about when they will first have sex. All this combined with their very occasional smooches, Luke and Noah represent something new in the soap opera world. "This was one more programming frontier," said Andy Towle, who runs the popular gay-theme blog towleroad.com and has kept readers up to date on Luke and Noah developments.
Luke's story of coming to terms with his sexuality began in late 2005, as the son of one of the show's longstanding couples, Holden Snyder and Lily Walsh. Bloom, CBS's senior vice president for daytime television, said the show's executive producer and head writer laid out a tentative long-term plotline in advance, unfolding it slowly so that the audience would conclude that Luke was gay before he officially announced it. From the start, she made clear, the writers hoped Luke would go on to become a central character, with everything that entails: "It's daytime television. It's the love story business."
Luke's coming-out story garnered praise in the gay community and an award from the gay-rights group Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Hansis and the actress who portrayed his mother (Martha Byrne) appeared in public service announcements on CBS.
Due to Luke's storyline going over so well with fans, the writers eventually added Noah, said Tharrington. "Everyone in the town came to accept Luke as he was, and the viewers did, too," she elaborated. "What we kept hearing from viewers is, 'We love Luke. We want him to have a love interest, too.'"
The "Nuke" story drew another GLAAD award nomination for the series, and has attracted gay men who now follow the show with "a mix of activist pride and love-struck glee." Luke and Noah clips on YouTube have been edited from the episodes down to the relevant scenes. Hinds said he has started to watch the soap opera in its entirety, "because [he] just wanted the show to be successful — to support the storyline."
Though the romance has garnered positive reaction, Tharrington and CBS officials said they heard complaints from viewers opposed to the storyline, though they will not say which side draws a bigger response. The American Family Association, a conservative group based in Tupelo, Mississippi, has received hundreds of complaints about the Luke and Noah romance — particularly their kisses, said Randy Sharp, the group's spokesman.
"It was a big turnoff for them," Sharp relayed. "The word 'repulsive' was used once or twice. 'Offensive' was used more than once.... It was overtly gratuitous. It's not necessary to the storyline itself."
In 2004, Sharp's group championed a boycott of Procter & Gamble complaining about some of its gay-friendly corporate policies. With the Luke and Noah story, Sharp detailed that group leaders had a phone conference with Procter & Gamble officials and asked members to contact the company. "Our request to them was to do away with the homosexual characters," he cited. "Your writers can come up with good storylines that the general public would watch and not be offended by."
Hinds, on the other hand, wondered if the show's apparent solution — to keep suggesting kisses without showing them — was really pleasing anyone. "Conservative fans," he pointed out, "still see the intimacy."
Despite the protests against the pairing, Bloom stated that support for it has been unwavering. "We have never in any way asked them to censor that story or pull it back," she said. There are signs that, overall, the story has been good for As the World Turns, Bloom further relayed. Over the course of Luke's saga, Bloom noted, the show had moved into a solid position as the third-rated soap across all networks.
Though Bloom and Tharrington insist that Luke and Noah will remain, it is also evident that no one is making any promises on progress. Drawn-out love stories, Bloom pointed out, are a daytime drama staple. "In the soap-opera business, you walk a very fine line between love stories, happily-ever-after, yearning, and obstacles," Bloom cited. "The drama comes from the quest."
On March 2 2008, David Bauder of the Associated Press put out an article regarding the controversy over Luke and Noah's non-kisses. "The love affair between two young men on the venerable CBS soap opera As the World Turns has triggered a protest campaign by angry viewers," the report opened with.
"It's just not the sort of protest you'd expect," stated Bauder. "Fans of the fictional romance between Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer are baffled about why the two characters haven't kissed on-screen since September, wondering whether it's a sign of squeamishness by CBS or show sponsors Procter & Gamble Co."
"We totally support this show and applaud the show for doing this storyline," said Roger Newcomb, a computer worker from New York's northern suburbs and the man behind the campaign. "We just don't understand why they have to be censored or treated differently." Of Luke and Noah's no-onscreen kiss state since their official romance started, Newcomb finds it unrealistic. "I've been watching soaps for decades," he said, "and that doesn't happen."
The Luke and Noah campaign started when every other couple on a Valentine's Day episode kissed, except Luke and Noah.
"There are some people who want to see sex between Luke and Noah," said 34-year-old Theresa Webber, who lives north of Boston. "I've been watching soaps long enough to know that they're a teenage couple, so it's not going to happen anyway. But for them to not kiss at all, it's a little extreme."
Tharrington assured that there is no kissing ban on Luke and Noah, although she would not say what will happen in future shows. She described the mistletoe shot as a "creative decision". "It's always hard to please a diverse audience," Tharrington added, "and we have a diverse audience."
Webber recalls reading a handful of letters in soap opera publications after last summer's first kiss along the lines of "I don't care if Luke is gay, but I don't want to see it."
Bloom stated that there was a "minimal" negative reaction from viewers about the storyline. She could not define what that meant, however. There was apparently no organized campaign by conservative or parent advocacy groups that monitor television content.
The American Family Association website has a "take-action alert" against Procter & Gamble, calling the company the "top pro-homosexual sponsor on television." The group came to its conclusion based on the number of P&G products advertised on primetime television shows with gay or lesbian characters.
As the World Turns is not even mentioned.
More bothered by other things they have seen on the soap opera, are Webber and Newcomb. They cite that a 14-year-old boy shot a man who was attacking his mother. One character is so desperate for a baby that she slept with her ex-brother-in-law, and was nearly caught having sex in an elevator. Another woman led her children and ex-husband into believing she had a brain tumor, just to get him back.
All are more offensive to her than two men kissing, Webber said. "It's 2008," she elaborated. "It's something that's real. If they were not going to follow through with it, they shouldn't have started it."
A complicated factor to the Luke and Noah controversy is the couple's popularity. At the time, some 140 scenes featuring the two were posted online, a number that has grown. The message board on Vanhansis.net gets posts from around the world. While competitors One Life to Live and Days of our Lives saw double-digit drops in viewership over the past year, As the World Turns was down only 2 percent.
Speculated is that the show's producers want it both ways, to get credit for having a gay couple but no backlash from long-term viewers for showing intimacy, said Carolyn Hinsey, editor of Soap Opera Weekly.
But Bloom has stated that she would like to see Luke and Noah's romance continue. "If that means there is a natural progression to the physical relationship, I would be in support of it," she said.
Tharrington laughed when asked about any behind-the-scenes debates over showing intimacy between the two men. "You wouldn't even believe," she told Associated Press. Producers are committed to telling the story of the romance, she added, stating that she hoped the audience would recognize what As the World Turns is showing, instead of just what it is not: "We feel like we're doing so much right here. We're telling a story that no one else is doing. We're telling a story that has really engaged our audience."
Within hours, all other news outlets such as CNN and FOX NEWS reported the Associated Press article, as debate about the no-kiss controversy became evident across the internet.
Since the 3rd kiss, the show has slowly allowed more and more physical intimacy between the two. Throughout the month of August 2008, every episode featuring Luke and Noah also included at least one kiss.
Criticism has risen over whether or not Luke and Noah deserve the title of supercouple this early in their union. There are fans, straight and gay, who have voiced that the couple have not been together long enough, have not been through enough trials and tribulations, and thus do not begin to compare to the legendary supercouples of yesteryear.
The criticism comes after the couple's union of only a few months before being named a top power couple by TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly, sentiment being expressed that the duo only acquired the title due to being the only gay couple on daytime television at this time.
Fans have complained of Luke and Noah's lack of airtime as a couple. In June and April, Luke and Noah were showcased in a total of seven episodes, sending an uproar among the fanbase. Fans have begun campaigning in various ways in hopes of getting the couple featured more.
- ↑ Christine Champagne. Out.com. Retrieved on 2007-06-17.
- ↑ "Daytime's gay kiss: What's next?", gay.com. Retrieved on 2007-11-24.
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Alexander Nahmod, David. "The kiss seen ’round the world: YouTube turns soap's gay couple into worldwide sensation", expressgaynews.com, 2008-02-07. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Branco, Nelson. "Soaps’ best super-couples!", TV Guide. Retrieved on 2007-11-12.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 West, Abby. "17 Great Soap Supercouples: Luke and Noah", Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2008-01-29.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Avery, Dan. "One Good Turn: The actors behind daytime television's cutest (and only) gay couple come clean for National Coming Out Day.", The Advocate, 2007-10-07. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.
- ↑ 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 Jensen, Michael. "As the World Turns' Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann answer your questions", AfterElton.com, 2007-11-14. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.
- ↑ Bevilacqua, Joe. "Celebrity Voice Actors: The New Sound of Animation", ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.1, April 1999. Retrieved on 2008-03-16.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "Soap News: ATWT: Luke and Noah Fans Send CBS Big Kisses", TV Guide. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.
- ↑ S. Luckie, Mark. "Landmark moments in Gay Hollywood", Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.
- ↑ 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 11.15 11.16 11.17 11.18 11.19 11.20 11.21 Weiss, Joanna. "Their soap smooch made history. Fans ask: Will it happen again?", The Boston Globe, 2008-02-01. Retrieved on 2008-02-03.
- ↑ 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13 12.14 12.15 12.16 12.17 12.18 12.19 12.20 12.21 12.22 12.23 Bauder, David. "Unexpected protest at a soap", Associated Press, 2008-02-02. Retrieved on 2008-02-03.
- ↑ "We want more of gay story", Associated Press. Retrieved on 2008-02-03.
- ↑ "Soap Viewers Want to See More of Gay Story Line", Associated Press. Retrieved on 2008-02-03.
- ↑ "Unexpected soap protest favors gay kiss", Associated Press. Retrieved on 2008-02-03. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17.
- ↑ "Soap's fans protest gay couple's modesty", Associated Press. Retrieved on 2008-02-03.
- ↑ "Washington Post reporting Unexpected Soap Protest Favors Gay Kiss", Associated Press. Retrieved on 2008-02-03.
- ↑ "npr.org reporting Unexpected Soap Protest Favors Gay Kiss", Associated Press. Retrieved on 2008-02-03. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17.
- ↑ Witnessed on-air. April 23 2008, As the World Turns.
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 "Are Luke and Noah a "manufactured couple"?", AfterElton.com. Retrieved on 2008-02-10
- NoahandLuke.com - a Noah and Luke fansite
- Love Story - a Noah and Luke fanlisting
- Luke and Noah Wiki - LukeandNoahFans.com
- The Nuke Fancast - a weekly Luke and Noah podcast
- AfterElton.com interview with Jake Silbermann