Many apologies if I'm stating the obvious. But the vampires in True Blood are symbolic of homosexuals. That was open and clear from the start, wasn't it?
In the first episode, they speak of vampires "coming out of the coffin," having existed clandestinely for millennia, but now seeking acceptance in mainstream society.
The opening credits show a sign saying "God Hates Fangs."
Some vampires derisively refer to humans as "breathers."
Vampires have their own bars, with pun names - the one in the show is "Fangtasia."
Some people distrust vampires, hatefully referring to them as "fangers."
Vermont is the only state that has legalized marriage between humans and vampires.
A prominent Christian preacher makes hatred of vampires his focus, often appearing in the media speaking out on the subject. Unsurprisingly, he's later revealed to be a closeted homosexual.
The analogy breaks down in the second season and beyond, as we learn more about the intricate politics and metaphysical relationships among vampires. They're governed by a mysterious, all-powerful "authority." Various characters are sheriffs, kings and queens of different territories. Every vampire has a direct and complex relationship with her "master" (the vampire who turned her into a vampire)(and humans can be turned into vampires voluntarily, or against their will). Vampire blood is sold as a drug, conferring super-sensitivity, as well as endless sexual prowess. Some vampires seek peaceful integration, others want to destroy and enslave the human race.
The world of the show also grows to incorporate other mystical creatures: werewolves, maenads, fairies, shape-shifters, witches. I won't be surprised to discover a given character is a zombie or the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Alan Ball (True Blood's creator) is gay, and has explored the integration of homosexuals in society before. Six Feet Under featured a closeted (at least for the first season) mortician and funeral director, who attended church and displayed no stereotypically gay mannerisms at all. His on again off again partner in the series is a buff black cop, furious with him for staying in the closet. American Beauty featured a gay couple, employed as a tax attorney and an anesthesiologist. The Marine Colonel neighbour turns out to be closeted and homicidally repressed.
And even though True Blood isn't solely an analogy for gay integration, it features an abundance of gay and bisexual characters, far beyond the norm on cable television. Character actor Stephen Root (stapler obsessed Milton in Office Space) gives a particularly impressive performance as an overweight, middle-aged vampire, whose marriage as a human had collapsed when his wife accused him of being gay, a charge whose truth he only realized on hearing it. He chose to become a vampire, hoping he'd be transformed into the lithe, sexy beings he'd seen from afar, only to discover he remained frumpy and middle-aged, no more attractive to hot young vampires than he'd ever been.
There are plenty of heterosexual characters in the show, too. The central relationship is between a woman and a man (well, a male vampire). One character's womanizing makes him seem right out of the seventies. There's lots of sex, gay and straight. But contrasting Hollywood convention, we see just as many male buttocks as female breasts. The camera lingers lovingly on the perfect forms of both genders, providing plenty of eye-candy for gay men and straight women (if anything, there's more of a focus on the men's hotness than the women's).
The show has comfortably transitioned from being an analogy for gay integration into a drama/soap opera/horror/fantasy full of intrigue, action, romance and sex. Major characters are white, black and Latino, human and non-human. The audience is big and varied as well, and therein lies Ball's greatest accomplishment: getting mainstream audiences interested in tales involving gay characters without the series being solely about that. It's about the swirling, multi-coloured world we live in, full of varied and sometimes fluid identity, genuine emotions, attempts to connect and coexist, with plenty of surprises and cliff-hangers.