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How Sexuality is Represented on TV

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With over 80% of people in the UK watching TV everyday, it offers some form of entertainment for everyone. Be it something comedic, dramatic or informative, there is a programme out there for you! On the other hand, TV can also be used as a platform to promote social change by educating viewers on topics they might not be aware of or don't see in their day to day life.

Television as a tool for change


It's no secret that people love watching TV. Becoming engrossed in the drama and excitement that somewhat reflects real life offers people a place to escape and live out their imagination of who they could be. TV also provides us with role models and teaches us new things which we come to value. This is great for everyone, especially the LGBTQ+ community as it allows people to become more educated on matters such as gender and sexuality. It gives people the respect they deserve and offers the opportunity to challenge close minded thinking, through representation and expression.


Stereotypes within television


However, TV is prone to using harmful stereotypes and minority communities are often the target of these. This is common on TV, with one example being camp men being portrayed as the only form of 'gay man' which can lead to prejudices being reinforced.


Series such as ‘Little Britain’ have used stereotypes of camp men to push ‘the only gay in the village’, which exploits the gay community by measuring them as explicit and lewd rather than treating them like everyday people. Another way that the LGBTQ+ community is belittled on TV is by tokenizing members of the community, using them to meet quotas and having no real character qualities.


However, representation is changing on TV by shifting the spotlight from stereotypes to showing the real struggles of the LGBTQ+ community. Channel 4's ‘It's a sin’ gives multiple perspectives on the devastating effects the HIV/AIDS epidemic had on these communities, their families, friends while also showing how the stigma which still surrounds people currently suffering with HIV/AIDS. The TV industry has also become much more diverse, increasing the representation of BAME communities within shows. GLAADS have reported that people of colour make up 58% of queer characters in TV which marks a move towards realistic representation within television.


Reality TV as another perspective


Alongside fictional TV shows, there are a plethora of series which have current LGBTQ+ icons such as ‘Rupaul's Drag Race’ which has a predominantly LGBTQ+ cast. It showcases how vibrant the drag scene is while taking on toxic masculinity. This promotes positivity and inclusivity with many of the contestants sharing their stories of coming out, the struggles they have faced and had to overcome in life. It also offers genuine insight and advice, further showing how television can be used as a vessel for positive change for the people who need it.






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