Media portrayal of LGBT people

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Media portrayal of LGBT people ranges from positive to very negative. The LGBT community is constantly battling with the negative image and trying to overcome stereotypes in television, films and other media. However, coverage has become more positive in recent years, possibly in an attempt by marketers to appeal to LGBT people. Representation of transgender characters has increased in the last ten years, now including reoccurring transgender characters in popular shows such as Grey's Anatomy, Degrassi, Ugly Betty, and Glee.


Because lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people look just like anyone else, the media often adds images to make the gay community as visible as a difference in skin color. In many forms of popular entertainment, gay men are portrayed as overly promiscuous, flashy and incredibly bold.

Gay and lesbian families are commonly misunderstood because society equates sexual orientation with the ability to reproduce. Gay and lesbian, even in the movies, are usually not the main characters. They most of the time fall into the stereotyped supporting characters or portrayed as a victim or villain.[1]

There is currently a widespread view that reference to gays should be omitted from child-related entertainment. When such references do occur they almost invariably generate controversy. In 1997, when American comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet on her popular sitcom, many sponsors, such as the Wendy's fast food chain, pulled their advertising.[citation needed]

Media has hurt the LGBT community but also helped them. Milestones to the gay community such as the book "Vice Versa" and Ellen DeGeneres coming out has helped other LGBT come out and feel better about being themselves.[2]

Despite the stereotypical depictions of gays, the media has at times promoted acceptance of gays with television shows such as Will and Grace and Queer Eye. This increased publicity reflects the coming-out movement of the LGBT community. As more celebrities come out, more gay-friendly shows develop, such as the 2004 show The L Word. With the popularity of gay television shows, music artists and gay fashion, Western culture has had to open its eyes to the gay community.

This new acceptance from the media can partially be explained by the contact hypothesis, aka inter group contact theory. With more shows promoting the acceptance of gays, people are able to view a more correct depiction of the LGBT community.[3]

In the United States, gay people are frequently used as a symbol of social decadence by celebrity evangelists and by organizations such as Focus on the Family.

In Québec, RG Magazine was a major defender of LGBT causes for some 30 years.[citation needed]

News coverage of LGBT events[edit]

Much of the negative media that surrounds the gay community has to do with pride parades that turn into drag shows or riots. There is very little positive media coverage , however there is some. Some examples of positive coverage is marches for same-sex marriage and shows like ellen and ru'pauls drag race. Both shows express successful LGBT.[citation needed] Opposition argues that such degrees of sexuality and nudity in public is not appropriate. Although, lately there has been more shows to show lesbian and gay sexuality. Generally, News stories have typically identified the opposition to these demonstrations as led by Christian conservatives or strong believers of the Islamic religion and not political figures.[4] Many of these views against LGBT's is symbolic racism. People's arguments against their nudity in public because it violates their traditional values.

Marketing to the LGBT community[edit]

The gay community has been targeted by marketers who view LGBT people as an untapped source of discretionary spending, as many couples have two income streams and no children. As a result, companies are advertising more and more to the gay community, and LGBT activists use advertisement slogans to promote gay community views. Subaru marketed its "Forester" and "Outback" models with the slogan "It's not a choice. It's the way we're built" which was later used in eight United States cities on streets or in gay rights events.[5]

Media Portrayal of LGBT People of Color[edit]

Overwhelmingly, the portrayal of the LGBT community in the American media centers on white LGBTs and their experiences. LGBT persons of color are severely underrepresented in the media in comparison to their actual population within the community.[6]

Media Portrayal of LGBT People of Gender[edit]

In the American media, the portrayal of the LGBT community varied by gender. Statistic shows male characters are more likely to have single sexual attraction. As a fact, more gay characters compare to lesbian character and more bisexual female characters compare to bisexual male characters were showed.[7]

LGBT media advocacy organizations[edit]

Many LGBT organizations exist to represent and defend the gay community. For example, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in the United States and Stonewall in the UK work with the media to help portray fair and accurate images of the gay community. There are many other LGBT advocacy organizations in the United States that are all working for the same cause, equality.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Template:Mazur, M. A., & Emmers-Sommer, T. M. (2002). The Effect of Movie Portrayals on Audience Attitudes about Nontraditional Families and Sexual Orientation. Journal Of Homosexuality, 44(1), 157-179. doi:10.1300/J082v44n0109
  2. ^ Larry Gross (2001). Up From Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay men, And The Media in America. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231119535. 
  3. ^ Austin Thomas Rowe (2010). "Media's Portrayal of Homosexuality as a Reflection of Cultural Acceptance" (PDF). 
  4. ^ "Gay Pride parade attracts thousands". The Irish News. April 4, 2008. 
  5. ^ Fetto, John. In Broad Daylight - Marketing to the gay community - Brief Article. BNet. Feb. 2001. [1]
  6. ^ "More Representation for LGBT People of Color". Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "Where We Are on TV Report". Retrieved 2014. 
  8. ^ "Queers United: The activist blog uniting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersexual, Asexual community & Allies in the fight for equality". Retrieved 4 July 2012.