Homosexuality and the media

Posted on June 23, 2011

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Media in the past 30 years have constantly changed their portrayal of homosexuals, from being typecast as the silly humor on TV shows, the flamboyant personality in a crowd and to play characters that represent the gay community’s struggle for acceptance to be treated equal. These different approaches have played a major role in influencing and persuading the societies’ perception of Homosexuality.

Initially gay men and women were featured as gay characters on television in minor roles or as stereotypically cast for humor and laugh in TV shows. In the 70’s when the subject of Homosexuality was considered an issue, the media selectively chose its content in order to avoid controversy with the public. Therefore instead of representing the truth about the gay community, the media made a joke about their image by showing characters that were ignorant and ridiculous.

The 80’s opened their view on the subject however the public bias still existed, which is why the roles were more marginalized. The characters shown on screen were often struggling with internal conflicts based on external situations, which accurately portrayed their standing in society during that time. The 90’s however marked a revolutionary change in the image of Homosexuality in the media, the actors took on meaningful roles that had more value and positive influence on viewers they played lead roles and were depicted as stronger individuals. This gradual change occurred when the subject of Homosexuality became more public; everyone from politicians, celebrities and important public figures started focusing on gay rights along with other moral issues.

Media mediums such as newspaper, television and the internet bombarded people with the debate on the issue, which eventually became hard to ignore. But knowing the media’s power of persuasion it successfully swayed the audiences to the more liberal side of the issue.  By 2000 the public were already open-minded and aware of the impact of the gay community, by then television saw a tsunami of TV shows situated around gay characters. Show’s like MTV’s “The Real World” and “Will and Grace showed gay cast members on a personal level, they were friendly, humorous, educated, smart and overall lovable characters. The whole notion of “them” being completely different got thrown out of the window, the viewers saw them as ordinary people, and these popular shows made homosexual lifestyle more common and accepted in society.

Even though the media still tends to stereotype homosexuality in a number ways, the fact that the world now is very open to their presence marks a great achievement in their struggle for full acceptance.

In my opinion, the media in the recent years has given the gay community a platform to be a part of the society; even though the role is undersized it still impacts the lives of many people who relate themselves to the community or certain individuals. Some countries are yet to open up and accept Homosexuality but through proper representations in the media, the society could view them as human beings with rights rather than “them”.

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Posted in: Issues