Role models. They're important, especially for young children. They provide someone to look up to, an example to inspire a generation. These role models are particularly important in the LGBTQ+ community as they provide representation to those most commonly marginalised.
In a lot of franchises and TV shows, there is no LGBTQ+ characters. Transformers, Fast and Furious and Jurassic Park, are some of the biggest film franchises, which are loved by many. However, shockingly they have no LGBTQ+ representation in these films. Not a single character is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. This is shocking.
State-sanctioned censorship also plays a role in the lack of representation. In some countries, such as Singapore, have broadcasting guidelines which prohibit TV channels and radio stations from featuring queer content. This can create an unsafe environment for the LGBTQ+ community as they are not represented in society.
The Benefits of Representation
Representation is important as it helps people see others just like them in the media. It is important to see characters that look like them or have had similar experiences that can help develop a sense of identity and self-worth. By seeing people just like them, it can reduce the feelings of isolation as they know that they are not the only ones going through it.
Not only does it provide a role model to members of the LGBTQ+ community, but also it can educate the audience. This is because it can show people the struggles that members of the community may face. This creates awareness of challenges faced by the community. The more diversity is shown in TV and film, the more inclusive society will be. This is because society is more educated. Without this representation, a hostile environment is created as people are misinformed. Therefore, the more representation there is, the less harmful stereotypes there will be.
The Wrong Kind of Representation
Representation is really important to prevent stereotypes. Bisexual people are commonly misrepresented in TV shows and films because they are often portrayed to be just confused about their sexuality or more prone to cheat. This is a complete misrepresentation of bisexual people as these are false stereotypes that have been created then shown to the world. An example of this was in Glee, when Blaine’s attempts to come out as bisexual are dismissed by Kurt. This is not a good way to represent the community as it enforces unhealthy and harmful stereotypes.
Examples of TV Shows Promoting Positive Role Models
Currently, there is more and more shows representing the LGBTQ+ community on camera.
Recently released, is the coming-of-age comedy, Heartstopper. Originally based on Alice Oseman’s book series, it follows two teenage boys navigating high school. Charlie is openly gay but has a hard time fitting in at school whilst Nick is a jock but has a kind nature so befriends Charlie. The show follows the two of them as they develop feelings for each other as well as showing other LGBTQ+ characters stories. It also deals with sensitive topics such as coming out and bullying highlighting some of the challenges the community faces.
Another example of a show representing the LGBTQ+ community is RuPaul’s Drag Race. A reality competition where drag queens compete in challenges each week to win the title of the Next Drag Superstar. Drag Race plays a huge role in representation for the LGBTQ+ community as it shines a light on issues faced by the community. The contestants use their platform on the show to educate and inspire the next generation. On series 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Cheddar Gorgeous used their platform on the runway to shine a light on the history of the AIDs crisis and the damaged that it caused to the queer community. This shows that drag can speak beyond words to offer a path forward for the next generation whilst still carrying on the legacy and memory of what came before.
These are just two examples of many shows that represent the LGBTQ+ community. However, there still needs to be more representation in mainstream entertainment to promote inclusivity and also accurately depict the changing demographics. The more TV programmes and films show an accurate representation of the LGBTQ+ community, the more society becomes safer and more accepting to the LGBTQ+ community.