From the 1890’s there has been some form of representation of the gay community in the media. However at this time the inclusion of alternate genders and sexualities was not for visibility instead they were ridiculed. Only the stereotype was portrayed. In the 1930’s no character was allowed to be overtly homosexual because of the protesting religious groups. A policy of self-censorship was followed. The 1950’s and 60’s saw the gay rights movement gaining support. Now homosexuality began to be portrayed for visibility and not comic relief.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show
At a time where portraying the LGBTQ+ community was practically a taboo “The rocky horror” picture show not only portrayed but celebrated being gay. It initially released in London in 1975 but there were innumerable theater remakes of it. It was an instant cult classic and it became a rite of passage for the queer and questioning youth.
- Ellen DeGeneres’s coming out
Ellen DeGeneres is a pioneer as far as a celebrity coming out is concerned. In 1997 she came out in a sitcom called “Ellen”. She became the first gay lead character on T.V. Even though the show was later canceled it won an Emmy that year. She has gone on to host the “Ellen DeGeneres show” for which she has won 13 Emmy’s. She is also a best selling author. She has proved that you can come out of the closet and still be successful.
- Will and Grace
This show essentially brought homosexuality out of the television closet. This portrayed gay men as something other than the stereotype. Will was a lawyer who could apparently pass for straight. Will’s close friend Jack on the other hand was out, proud and flamboyant. Being gay was not all that there was to Will. Instead it was just a part of who he was. It was a show with gay character but it never became a show about being gay. This show also paved the way for shows like “Glee” and “Modern Family”.
- The Wire
You may have noticed that this list is predominantly white. Moving away from this we have Omar in “The Wire”. He lived through the homophobic world of Baltimore drug dealers. Instead of remaining in the closet, however, he chose to flaunt his sexuality. This groundbreaking role is played by Michael K. Williams who very rightly said, “Your sexual orientation is such a small part of your personal life. It doesn’t make up who you are as a human being, as an individual.”
- Orange Is The New Black
This list has mainly talked about homosexuality. This is because the majority of trans representation in the media has been negative and offensive. Laverne Cox’s character in “Orange Is The New Black” is one in which she is one of the first trans person playing a trans character. This is important for the visibility of the trans community. She is also the first openly trans person to be on Time Magazine.
The impact of social media has been growing over the years. Many LGBTQ+ issues are being discussed in this sphere. Many Internet celebrities like Tyler Oakley, Troye Sivan, Connor Franta, Hannah Hart etc. have come out. This has moved miles as far making alternate genders and sexuality more common.
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