How is LGBTQ portrayed in the media?

Mary Kate Hickey examines how the LGBT community is portrayed in the media.

Mary Kate Hickey takes a look at LGBTQ in modern TV and speaks to DIT’s LGBTQ chairperson, Toryn Glavin.

For many years the LGBT community has taken a hit when it comes to generalised stereotypes being used in television and film. The overly camp gay man, or the overly masculine gay man who is compensating for his sexuality are two of the main gay male stereotypes we see in the media.

But these do not represent all gay males, and the LGBTQ community is full of a wide spectrum of gender identities that dont even get mentioned. Society, namely directors and producers, still chooses to show the same tired old stereotypes, often to use as comic relief, because the camp gay male is seemingly funnier than a gay man that just lives a ‘normallife.

“Some shows still use LGBTQ characters as jokes but I do think that portrayals are getting a lot better now” said Toryn Glavin, the chairperson of DIT LGBTQ society.

“Portrayal of the LGBTQ community in movies and tv are getting better.  Alexis Meade in Ugly Betty was a cisgender woman playing a trans* woman, but now we have Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black as a trans* woman playing a trans* woman, which I agree with more.  I think that LGBTQ actors should be playing LGBTQ roles.” Toryn added.

Portrayals are changing, little by little LGBTQ characters are giving a more truthful representation of all different identities, but this is still only a small portion and very little is being done to make a bigger change.

Actress and LGBTQ ally Kerry Washington gave a powerful speech about equality in all minority groups at the glaad awards in March.  She said in her speech that “having your story told as any member of any disenfranchised community is still very often a radical idea.” 

She also said that there is a need for more LGBTQ representation in the media, more LGBTQ characters, more LGBTQ storytelling and more diverse representation showing lots of different LGBTQ people living all kinds of lives.  More employment of LGBTQ people in front of and behind the camera is also needed.

Peoplesopinions are only going to change through humanisation of the marginalized groups.  The more people see things being shown as normal through the media, the more they are going to accept it as normal. 

“There doesnt need to be an emphasis on a persons character being LGBTQ, it can just be a side fact that doesnt need to be explored!” Toryn said.  “When we can have real people like Sam Smith in the media just being a gay man with no coming out story is great, he was just accepted and loved for who he is. It needs to be shown this way in tv and movies because we are not a coming out story we are a life” she added.

When we break down the walls between gender and sexuality and just see people and personalities, a truer portrayal of all individual identities can be shown.  Just like Kerry Washington said in her speech, the only norm is our uniqueness and the media must reflect that.

(Originally posted in The Edition (DIT) and on Campus.ie (http://campus.ie/surviving-college/tv/how-lgbtq-portrayed-media)