The Roles Of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender And Plus Individuals In The Media

People enjoy the shows like Will and Grace or Glee that present the “average” fashion forward gay best friend or “average” softball player lesbian. The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Plus Individuals (LGBT+) community is excited about being represented in shows like this. However, some are unsure if these shows are an accurate depiction of the community. The pros believe the spotlight has allowed society to warm up to the idea of these individuals. Others think the media is stereo typing the average LGBT+ person in a manner that does not reflect the true life style experience. Although the media shows have given, the LGBT+ communities a chance in the spotlight to ‘come out,’ the shows are not explaining the full picture of this growing community, such as, stereotyping characters, establishing a safe space network, and using actors and actresses that identify as LGBT+.
Entertainment contains stereotypes to create their modern day plots to appeal to the ‘common’ house hold. When these stereotypes are used the media can often forget when they take it too far and end up creating a negative image of LGBT+ individuals. Amber Raley posted about homosexuality in an article; she explained that shows like “Will and Grace” reveal an offensive stereotype of a homosexual such as Jack. Jack is a flamboyant character, but the show does not display him wanting a partner or children or how his family has responded to him being open about his sexuality. The stereotypes are causing viewers to think that any gay man will be like Jack giving them a false sense of reality. It also shows younger homosexuals a false reality about how accepting the real world might be. Raley also stated that this is “why people had a problem with Ellen, because she wasn't butch and she wasn't a stereotypical lesbian.” If the entertainment industry was to stay away from such harmful stereotypes then maybe it would have not been such a big deal how Ellen choses to express herself as who she is. Therefore, these stereotypes can be hurtful to the LGBT+ community and those who are influenced by them.
Everyone likes to enjoy some fresh relaxing time on the couch watching TV. However, too much time can allow the media to influence the viewers about what is ‘hot’ and what is not. The entertainment industry is just looking for the next top story to rank up their rating to make money. To do this some TV networks have opened up their programming to a bigger audience. For example, FOX TV released “Glee” a show for any family household that enjoys music, comedy, or is open to homosexuality. However, these shows are demonstrating cases of LGBT+ individuals in the worse or best sinarios, but never in a realistic light. Maryann Haggerty wrote an article on reality TV called “Is It Harmless Entertainment or a Cultural Threat?” Haggerty wrote about the PBS 12-episode show “An American Family,” explaining that it was a reality show that showed the worst to viewers about the loud family as their son Lance came out to them about being gay the parents ended up in a divorce. Haggerty confirmed that the show became a hit for its entertainment purposes. This show did allow educational value for LGBT+ community on how hard it would be to come out, but also made some individuals hold back even longer scaring them with a harsh example of reality.
Sexuality will always be a subject that people will not have an easy time understanding. There will also always be people who choose to feel that by expressing that subject in the media, it will be forcing society to accept some ‘negative’ aspects of the world. In a way to soften homosexuality, they allow the over stereotypical LGBT+Individuals, instead of more realistic characters. These same people allow the communities to have a network of their own, just like there is a network for Republicans and Democrats. Logo is the TV network allowing a place of real LGBT+ individuals to watch and relax on the couch without being offended from the use of over stereotyping. According to the network gives the LGBT+ community the original series and films to groundbreaking documentaries to LGBT+ news and more. What makes the TV network so interesting for the LGBT+ community is the name. Logo stated that they choose the name “because a logo is an identity and nothing's more important than having your own, unique identity, and making it work for you. Your logo is your symbol, it's what you put forward with pride, it's who you are, and it's what we are” (Logo TV). Logo takes this stand, instead, of hiding the LGBT+ community with stereotypes and judgment:
“It's about the innovators, the magic makers, and the oddballs who make life interesting for the rest of us – think RuPaul's Drag Race and RuPaul's Drag U. We love to hit The OMFG Factor with programming that makes our jaws drop at least once every few minutes and that makes us watch through our fingers; shows like Nip/Tuck and movies like Showgirls do it best. Finally, we're very much about the Next Big Thing and keeping you in the loop about the next big artist, film, travel destination, and anything in pop culture that matters.”
It is known that most entertainment such as movies and TV shows are a reflection of what society believes and how it sees the world. Maryann Haggerty explained in her article “MTV programs like ‘The Real World’ and ‘America's Best Dance Crew’ have offered richly diverse portrayals of gay and transgender people that help Americans better understand and accept our community.” In another light these shows are offering a way for the LGBT+ individuals to ‘come out’ allowing society as a whole to be more aware of the presence of gays and lesbians. Enid Gruber teamed up with Helaine Thau and together they wrote “Sexually Related Content on Television and Adolescents of Color: Media Theory, Physiological Development, and Psychological Impact” in their journal it was explained how some shows were allowing an awakening of this new era. Mentioning that the Ellen show was showing the world, “the evolution of a gay woman's awakening to her sexual orientation.” They also explained that the entertainment industry was changing their shows to become more realistic. Displaying ‘normal’ family problems “where endings were not necessarily happy ones” (Gruber 2003). The journal also mentioned that it was more entertaining when the actors/actresses were authentic LGBT+ people. The shows that offer this realistic feel better the society from making the poor judgments they may have about any group of people.
“Some people are afraid of differences,” said Raley Amber, and this is true. Many people are ok with seeing girls on TV playing and acting out the parts of lesbians. However, “Once people stop falling into boxes, it gets confusing” (Raley, 2006). This idea of a box is when actors act out scenes of a show and that is fine but as soon as it is a reality, people get uncomfortable, and attack what is foreign and unknown to them. What is important to remember is, that such ‘hot’ topics, such as gay/lesbian equal rights and marriage equality, need to be taken seriously and slowly, that way no harsh judgments or stereo types are made. Joan Garry the executive director of Gay Lesbian Alliance said, “Ten years ago, you had to look long and hard to find any gay characters on television. There's still a long way to go, but you know you've made a lot of progress when one of the top-10 national television shows has not one gay character but two.” Garry knows the process will continue to be long and strenuous but with time, things will get better.
Once an idea is in the public eyes as entertainment, there is not much that can be done to make it just vanish. As we look into the future, we have to ask some questions. How do we want our next generation to view others as suggested by the media? Do we want to judge any one we see by how they look and whom they are dating, or even their race? To change this we must start connecting a variety of people in to the everyday situations, but with a twist of understanding each person for who they are. Using real out of the closet actors/actresses to play the parts, you do not see a Caucasian Female playing the part of an African American Male, unless that is the point of the entertainment. Illustrate situations without a complete stereotypical look or personality. The way this will work is if communities of people, like the LGBT+ community, take the time to write letters to the TV networks they feel the most affected by then that could cause a chain reaction, of the networks changing some of there shows to be more accurate and entertaining but sensitive.
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1 Response Jan 5, 2012

thank you!!!