The Importance of LGBTQ+ Representation
Representation plays an integral part in shaping the minds of different communities in society. The media often acts as a paradigm for influencing beliefs, thoughts, and actions. TV shows, specifically, spark a feeling of relatedness and connection between the characters and the audience. The representation of LGBTQ+ characters in TV shows serves to display a diverse range of complex characters and personalities to prevent stereotypes and hinder discrimination.
According to the World Economic Forum, presenting LGBTQ+ narratives is essential in business and media, particularly in an era marked by anti-gay legislation in the United States and the criminalisation of same-sex relations worldwide. The LGBTQ+ community is frequently subjected to discrimination. For decades, LGBTQ+ members have fought for their rights. In the US, the fight for gay rights started in 1924 until date and has resulted in various policy and legislative changes.
The representation of LGBTQ characters in TV shows and other media forms is a crucial aspect in countering negative stereotypes and promoting the community’s presence as a social norm. This can facilitate the perception of LGBTQ people as diverse individuals and increase community support.
The Impact of LGBTQ+ Representation on Television
In a 2021-2022 report by Glaad, research showed a 2.8% increase in LGBTQ+ characters in scheduled shows aired during this time. Furthermore, lesbian characters achieved a significant milestone by representing the majority (40%) of LGBTQ characters in TV programmes for the first time. Additionally, people of colour contributed to 58% of the LGBTQ+ community.
Television programmes with positive representation, such as Heartstopper, Queer Eye, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and more, lead to better self-expression of LGBTQ individuals and advance their confidence in coming out. This positive representation significantly contributes to the self-confidence of younger LGBTQ people, serving as a source of inspiration and pride for the community. The presentation of these individuals also leads to an increase in cultural acceptance globally.
The Williams Institute’s Global Acceptance Index indicates an increase in the social acceptance of LGBTI people within 56 countries since 1981. Additionally, Williams Institute asserts that low acceptance levels are linked to discrimination, violence, and other negative behaviours directed at the LGBTQ+ community. The impact of LGBTQ+ representation includes a more accurate depiction of LGBTQ people and increased acceptance and support from the public.
Nevertheless, despite the increase in LGBTQ representation, there is still a need for more series and narratives that feature LGBTQ+ characters in lead roles.