I can’t help but notice this disproportionate number of LGBTQ representation in TV shows and movies. Although queer people have been accepted more vastly in today’s society, we still seem to lack good roles in TV shows and movies. The problem with underrepresention is more than just whether or not you can relate to characters (which is still crucial) but it is more to do with the portrayal of LGBTQ people, and what impact that will have on how queer people perceive their own community, but also how straight people will view the LGBTQ community.
The LGBTQ people on TV are mostly portrayed in a stereotypical way, with queer peoples characteristics appearing to share similar traits. Stereotypical depictions of how queer people act, talk, look, and what relationships they have are endless, which ultimately lead to people being misinformed or uneducated in regards to the LGBTQ community
The notorious death of fictional character, Lexa (portrayed by Alycia Debnam-Carey) from CW’s, ‘The 100’ is a prime example to use when discussing the mistreatment of the LGBTQ community. Lexa was a character that reached thousands of LGBTQ youth that many could relate to, however, despite this she was still killed off the show. The backlash that writer/producer, Jason Rothenberg received was intensely powerful, as many queer people demanded that ‘LGBTQ fans deserve better.’ Shortly after the controversial episode was aired; a donation page in Lexa’s name was produced on The Trevor Project, a charity that aims to save the lives of LGBTQ youth from suicide. The donation page has accumulated over $162,235 and donations are still being made. The publics response to Lexa’s death was filled with outrage and betrayal, which is no surprise since fictional lesbian characters are infamous for being killed off on TV shows. Lexa brought a sense of hope to myself and thousands of LGBTQ people, who were under the impression that this show would be different, that it wouldn’t fall into the statistics that mistreat queer people in media. The relationship between Lexa and Clarke (The 100) developed in the same way that a heterosexual couples would, hence why Lexa’s death was so difficult to deal with.
The gay and lesbian alliance against deformation (GLAAD) analysed 114 major releases from 2014 and found that only 17% had characters that identified as LGBT. 65% were gay men, 30% were bisexual, 10% were lesbians, and you guessed it, no characters identified as transgender, and 84.2% of the dedications of LGB characters were white. So not only is this evidence of the extreme lack of representation that queer people have to endure, it also illustrates the lack of representation that queer people of colour also face. The LGBTQ community is one of the most diverse, with people coming from different cultures, people of all ages, genders, races, and religions. Therefore, the media has represented us in a way that puts us in a box.
The lack of of representation of the LGBTQ community has to be addressed with more sensitivity and empathy. Being queer and growing up in a heteronormative society is extremely harmful, so the media is no help when it mostly portrays queer people pursuing relationships that are troublesome, which never have happy endings. Depicting gay people as more promiscuous than straight characters, and killing off lesbians is harmful to the LGBTQ community. They can often lead to those in the LGBTQ community to experience internalised oppression, which is why good representation of the LGBTQ community is crucial.