GAYDAR and your local chain restaurant

Waylon Smithers, Snagglepuss and T.G.I. Fridays? Misty Harris, a columnist for the Canwest papers, has deftly pulled all these popular cultural references together in a discussion of the expected "outing" of a Simpsons character next season. Two great quotes jump out. They speak to a continuing obsession among many cartoon viewers: figuring out which of their favourite characters is actually gay:

Some people consider it a practical skill to have," explains [Robert] Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University. "If I can detect Barney Rubble's sexuality in fiction, perhaps I can avoid an embarassing situation at T.G.I. Fridays."

The Springfield townsperson (Apu? Barney? Moe?) won't be the first gay cartoon character - only the first confirmed one. As Bryce Eberhart of PlanetOut noted to Harris:

No one has any question about whether Snagglepuss is gay," Eberhart says matter-of-factly about the Hanna Barbera character. "It's clear he's gayer than a Fabergé egg."(behind a subscriber firewall, unfortunately)