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Where Is Our Representation In Hollywood? As A Gay Woman, I Cringe When Watch LGBTQIA+ Community Portrayed On Screen
Post by Kaitlyn Fischer, volunteer LGBTQIA+ mental health advocate and blogger for Hope Xchange.
I Cringe When I Watch Gay Characters On TV
As a gay woman, whenever I watch gay characters portrayed on television, I can't help but cringe to myself.
The characters that Hollywood creates always fit around the same stereotypes: the gay best friend, the sassy fashionista, the “butch” who wears flannels and has a pixie cut, the middle-aged married man who cheats on his wife with another man eventually leading to divorce. None of them are characters that I can relate to. They aren’t realistic, but instead are reinforcing the same stigma that members of the LGBTQIA+ community face every day, calling it entertainment.
The most disappointing aspect of of this observation is that it hasn't significantly changed.
LGBTQIA+ Community Needs Inspiration and Strength More Than Ever, Especially Our Youth
As a society, we value the role models that represent us and lay the groundwork for future generations to observe. Why is it that we still fail to write in appropriate representations of LGBTQIA+ characters in the scripts that we idolize?
The importance of this representation increases every year. With the number of LGBTQIA+ growing and the violence against them increasing, we need inspiration and strength more than ever, especially our youth. Young children and adults both need and deserve to see an accurate representation of themselves in our society. It shouldn't be a topic that is available for argument or protest.
Size of Our Community Relative to Representation in Mainstream Media
The William's Institute recorded in 2011 that an estimated 3.8% of American adults identify as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender). This percentage equals approximately 9 million Americans, excluding the country's youth and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community. If there are this many people who identify with one community in a single country alone, why is this community not better represented in mainstream media?
In the media, the only LGBT-based discussion is in regards to hate crimes or pride marches – two opposing sides. There are next to no icons, role models, movies or shows based around an LGBTQIA+ plot line. The ones that do exist are few and far between and rarely touch base on important, current LGBTQIA issues and topics. This is surprising considering how crucial this kind of conversation is for our community’s youth and for the development of confidence and self acceptance.
In early 2015, out of 114 American films that were released by a major film studios, only 20 contained lesbian, gay and bisexual characters and included no transgender characters (GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index Report). This means that only 17.5% of that years movies included LGBT personalities.
While the numbers are slowly rising, there is a long way to go before such exposure creates the amount of attention this community needs.
How Do We Advocate For Representation We Deserve?
So what can we do to shine the spotlight on the LGBTQIA+ community in Hollywood? Well, we can start by speaking out about what we need and want to see. We can offer support to current LGBTQIA+ celebrities, praise current LGBTQIA roles that offer proper personas and advocate for more.
By participating in this conversation, we can give our community a voice and pave our way into the future.