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Student Plants First Daytime TV Lesbian Kiss

By Brian D. Goldstein, Contributing writer

With a single kiss, soap opera star Eden Riegel, a member of the class of 2002, will make small-screen history this afternoon as she shares in the first-ever same-sex smooch on daytime television.

The former resident of Pforzheimer House plays Bianca Montgomery on ABC’s All My Children.

Since she came out as a lesbian three years ago, Riegel’s teenage character has fallen in love with other women but has had trouble finding a relationship.

Her first crush, the female character Frankie, was mysteriously murdered before anything developed. A second infatuation with Frankie’s twin, Maggie, ended with unrequited love when Maggie announced that she was “into guys.”

The months-long flirtation between Riegel’s character and Maggie was enough to prompt the creation of a fan group called BAM (“Bianca and Maggie”), which attempted to convince the soap to push the relationship toward intimacy.

The current object of Bianca’s affection is Lena (played by Olga Sosnovska), who initially planned to use Bianca for her family connections, but soon fell in love.

Their relationship is expected to turn physical today with the characters’ first kiss. Executives from All My Children have reportedly said the relationship with Lena could heat up, and soon advance into the bedroom.

Since revealing that Bianca is a lesbian, All My Children has been nominated each year for a GLAAD Media Award by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). The awards were created to “honor individuals and projects in the media and entertainment industries for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community and the issues that affect their lives.”

Although no same-sex intimacy has been portrayed until today, the show has been recognized for its treatment of Bianca’s sexuality.

According to Michael Young, GLAAD’s Northeastern regional media manager, Riegel’s kiss will contribute to public acceptance of teenage gays and lesbians.

He said he hopes that viewers of All My Children who are parents of gays and lesbians will better understand their children as a result.

Although Young says he expects that most reaction will be positive, Boston’s ABC affiliate has received strong complaints from some of those who watch the show, according to Program Director Elizabeth Cheng of ABC Channel 5.

“To me it seems like it’s a non-event but apparently there are some viewers who are quite upset about it,” Cheng said.

According to Cheng, many e-mail complaints have called the kiss “inappropriate to put...on daytime television.” Some said they were worried about their children.

Cheng said that although Channel 5 wants feedback from viewers, it does not encourage children to watch daytime programming.

Riegel has said she has no immediate plans to return to Harvard.

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