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LGBTQ+ Representation in Media
Even now in 2018 it is still a rarity to find LGBTQ+ characters in mainstream Media. Don't get me wrong, there has been a large increase in LGBTQ+ representation since the 1990s but it is nowhere near commonly included. LGBTQ+ characters in mainstream media are often side characters, highly stereotyped, or only presented as the show ends or even after the ending.
Let's start with why LGBTQ+ representation is so important.
Firstly, having LGBTQ+ representation in the world helps spread awareness about people who fit outside of the box of what society considers the “norm.” This could help prevent homophobia and general ignorance.
Secondly, we can all agree that diversity makes for a richer and more widely relatable cast. LGBTQ+ character representation should be fought for just like representation is for people of color, strong female characters, and people with disabilities.
Lastly, it's important because it helps the LGBTQ+ community feel accepted. One of the best moments of my life was when Rick Riordan introduced the character Alex to his famous Magnus Chase book series. Not only was Alex an empowered genderfluid main character but Alex’s identity wasn't the main focus of this fantasy books, it was just a part of Alex's character. This is the kind of representation that I believe the LGBTQ+ community so desperately needs.
Why aren't people properly representing the LGBTQ+ community?
In some places it's banned for same sex partners to marry as well as for LGBTQ+ characters to be show in television or other forms of media. So media that includes LGBTQ+ characters will have much fewer views worldwide.
This results in writers revealing after the end of their books or shows that one of the characters was apart of the LGBTQ+ community so they can include the character but not lose consumers. For example, JK Rowling stated that Albus Dumbledore was gay after the end of the last book.
Furthermore, many mainstream media producers want to “write what they know”. This means writers will often make very stereotypical LGBTQ+ side character or just no LGBTQ+ when they themselves don't identify or have friends who are part of the community.
Lastly, many people will get offended when watching a topic they are ignorant about or by consuming something they have a strong opinion about. From what I have observed about peoples thoughts on the LGBTQ+ community, everyone seems to have a strong opinion. For example, the phrase “promoting the gay agenda” shames people for advocating about LGBTQ+ rights.
So what's happening today because of this representation problem?
This kind of discouragement for writers to create LGBTQ+ characters has led to writers to jump through hoops to include representation. Because writers have to jump through these hoops to include a LGBTQ+ person in their work, there is far less representation of the LGBTQ+ community as well as other marginalized groups of people included in mainstream media.
The lack of representation also promotes the idea of the LGBTQ+ community being a taboo subject. This spreads ignorance and homophobia.
Overall, if homophobia and LGBTQ+ ignorance is to be reduced in the future, we need representation to show LGBTQ+ characters are people as well. Anyone can advocate online about the LGBTQ+ community and I think it's essential that we call out large networks and publishers who don't include LGBTQ+ representation.