Sunday, 1 May 2016

Why We Need More (And Better) LGBTQA+ Representation on TV and in Films

Think of your favourite TV show - now think of it's gay character (there is likely to only be one, or at the very most a couple); if it doesn't have a gay character, just think of any gay character - preferably in a TV show that has a season that's ended recently. I'm not talking Faking It or The L Word, where the focus is on LGBTQA+ characters and their lives and sexuality, I mean just your regular, old run-of-the-mill TV Show. Notice I said gay character, as save Orphan Black it's unlikely that you're going to hit any other parts of the LGBTQA+ spectrum; now tell me - are they still alive?

You might think that's an odd thing to ask, but seriously; just think about it. Bury Your Gays has been doing it's rounds on the internet for good reason; when LGBTQA+ characters are shown on mainstream programmes, they all too often end up dead. In fact, out of the 11% of characters that we see online that are openly LGBTQA+ on TV, only around 11% of that original 11% actually end up with a happy ending. When you think about how few LGBTQA+ characters there are out there, that's a huge percentage dying, or generally ending miserably. But, that's what happens on TV shows, so why is it such a big deal?

The big deal is that we're already running low on representation. Sure, there are nods towards representation in kids TV (Marceline and Princess Bubblegum anybody?) but the fact is, in mainstream TV that our children and teens grow up seeing; LGBTQA+ characters are simply a void that is yet to be filled within our TV schedules. As we get older and LGBTQA+ finally starts to dip into our mainstream TV, LGBTQA+ influences are still few and far between - and as aforementioned; Bury Your Gays starts to kick in. Have the gay characters served their purpose, for either sex or love? If so, you can be sure that one of them at least will end up dead - don't believe me? You can find examples in everything from Coronation Street to that famous scene in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, in fact even The 100 have had to apologise for the upset.

The fact is - it seems that very few programmes know how to write LGBTQA+ characters. It seems to confuse people in a bizarre way - if there sole reason of being on the show isn't to be the token gay character, then what is it? What are we supposed to do with these characters, write them like heterosexual characters, with similar storylines only they love their own gender? How bizarre, what a joke. Whether for a fetishisation - in that it's been suggested that straight cis men find it uncomfortable to watch gay relationships and, although they find homosexual relationships between women sexy, they want women to be available to them at the end, or purely due to what seems like a worryingly unintentional trait - it's impossible to pretend that this isn't happening.

So here's what I'm asking - watch Orphan Black, watch The L Word, Faking It, How To Get Away With Murder; see how LGBTQA+ characters are integral, interesting additions to the plot, just like their heterosexual, cis counterparts. See how TV could be, if we stopped this disturbing trend and started giving LGBTQA+ characters the representation they so badly need. It's 2016, it's time for change.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Sexuality 2.0

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