LGBT representations needs major improvement

LGBT+representations+needs+major+improvement

Olivia Lane , Memorial Contributing Writer

When I was in grade school, I was boy crazy. Truly, I was obsessed with the idea of romance and having a boyfriend. And it wasn’t until fifth grade, that I even knew what being gay meant. I found out through Ellen DeGeneres. Now I know DeGeneres is a controversial topic these days, but she was the only visual I saw for what a gay person even looked like.

 Children see romance and love, and relationships on practically all forms of media out there. Children want to mimic the things they see. Media should be representing the LGBTQ+ community in a way that is realistic, diverse and not harmful.

 When children are shown all versions of what relationships can be, they are able to really look inside themselves to figure out who they are, instead of just thinking they have to be one thing.

 Children deserve to grow up, be happy, and be completely themselves, and when there is not equal representation of LGBTQ+ people, they might grow up not knowing who they are, or feeling wrong for who they want to love.

 Even children who aren’t a part of the LGBTQ+ community being shown these characters teaches them that everyone is different, and everyone should still be treated the same, with love and kindness. 

Representation has improved in recent years, but much of that representation relies on stereotypes, or is mainly white queer people being represented, which can do more harm than good in most cases. 

By showcasing gay men as flamboyant, or bisexual people as promiscuous, or as trans people as the butt of a joke, media is conveying that LGBTQ+ people are one dimensional, and shouldn’t be seen as real people but instead something to mock. This representation needs to change as soon as possible. 

The stereotypes create an implicit bias, that all gay men have the same personality, or that they can’t handle themselves on their own. When these characters aren’t portrayed in a light of hope, surrounded by normalcy, but are instead the butt of all the jokes, they can teach children and parents that that’s exactly who they are, the butt of all the jokes. 

After these children grow up seeing people like themselves being laughed at, or not seeing themselves at all, they begin to think of themselves as dirty, or wrong. This can happen through many different means. Without the representation on the screen helping them feel some hope, they may never be able to embrace themselves. 

One of my good friends spoke to me about how much their internalized homophobia affected their life and ability to come out. As a non-binary person, they saw virtually no representation of themselves in any form of media. Had they seen a character they could relate to on screen, someone who didn’t fit the gender mold, they may have been able to accept who they are, and not have to fight their upbringing at every turn just to feel justified in their identity.

While in 2019 about 10% of shows have LGBTQ+ characters, only a small percentage of these characters are people of color, represent non-binary people, or represent asexuality. It’s necessary to show these identities and normalize placing LGBT+ minorities on screen. The show Schitt’s Creek, for example, does a fantastic job of portraying a lesbian who is a woman of color, along with person who identifies as pansexual

Schitt’s Creek portrays a normal and loving gay relationship, normalizing LGBTQ+ people living normal domestic lives as opposed to the tragic stereotypes typically portrayed on television. Dan Levy, one of the writers and creators of the show, made it a point to show affection between the two as much as media portrays heterosexual affection. 

For contrast, The 100 portrays a lesbian relationship, however it’s riddled in tragedy, with hardly any affection shown, with one of the members of the couple dying tragically. LGBTQ+ relationships are not tragedies.

Putting more realistically represented LGBTQ+ characters in the media can’t fix homophobia as a whole. But putting these characters on screen for young people to see, is a start to opening their minds and eyes.

 Had my friend seen a non-gender conforming character, they might feel so much more comfortable in who they are today. Had I seen characters in gay relationships, I may not have felt so confused and different from everyone else in my life.    

Even for people who don’t identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, these characters and shows would show them how truly unique everyone is and that it’s okay to be different. It would teach them that it isn’t wrong, and that having a diverse group of people in life is what makes life interesting. 

If a company plans to create a show or movie with LGBTQ+ characters, or a story revolving around it, then they need to hire LGBT producers and writers. 

DeGeneres definitely had an impact on me growing up, but I don’t think it was the right kind of representation I needed for me to grow up comfortable with who I am. She was the only representation for years. An older white woman trying to represent millions through her talk show, is minimal compared to what young people really need.

 By advocating for representation in our media, we can change things for our future generations, and we can allow them to feel comfortable, safe, and seen just by changing the way characters are represented. 

 

Contact Olivia Lane [email protected]