LGBTQ Characters in the Media

A quote that stuck out to me from the Keywords reading was:  “Why are we obsessed with the lack of butch lesbians in film and TV, at the same time we capitulate to the latest BuzzFeed hype about the openly queer, masculine of center celesbian DJ, supermodel, and actress Ruby Rose…? Why amid such apparent abundance, are we still left feeling so empty?”

This quote, along with the Muñoz reading, really made me think about how members of the LGBTQ community are often “justified” in media by being portrayed in a way that is more palatable (ex. Mitch in Modern Family) or by being excessively sexualized. Taking some articles about Ruby Rose into consideration (“Ruby Rose Will Turn Heads,” “Ruby Rose’s Latest Photo Shoot Is So Hot It Will Actually Destroy You,” “Everyone Is Attracted To Ruby Rose”), I feel that this kind of representation of a famously lesbian celebrity sends a message that your attractiveness validates your sexuality. Representation of LGBTQ characters in the media is also a racial problem. It is even more rare to find gay/lesbian characters who are also part of a minority group.

For my final project, I am focusing on the impact of the film/tv industries prioritizing white skin, so this complicated issue of representation is extremely relevant. For example, while Black Panther is being praised for being so diverse and progressive, there are no LGBTQ characters. In films that do include these characters, the vast majority are white. For younger audience members that are looking for characters to identify with, providing viewers with people that share important facets of their own identity (race, sexuality, gender) is key.

For my video, I used a trailer for the movie- Love, Simon- which is a film about a gay teenager’s coming out experience. As a promo for the film, the trailer features kids coming out as straight to their families. This is obviously poking fun at the societal norm of heterosexuality. I layered parts of the text to change as different kids came out as straight in the clip, for irony.  I ended with “[why] are we left feeling so empty?” to make a statement about the inadequate representation not only of LGBTQ characters in the media, but LGBTQ characters who have diverse racial identities as well.