TV Shows

How TV has made us all gayer

In American television today, shows like Marvel’s Runaways, Orange is the New Black, Modern Family and One Day at a Time are simply considered good TV. They’re full of complex characters with dynamic, well-developed storylines that are frequently shown to be the moral backbone of their show.

However, The Broadcast Standards and Practices Board would have once considered these shows highly indecent for the presence of openly gay characters. In fact, in 1997 Ellen DeGeneres threatened to quit the sitcom “Ellen” after ABC issued a parental advisory before airing an episode simply because DeGeneres’ character jokingly kissed her best female friend.  The producers at ABC defended their position claiming, “the promise we have made to our audience is to provide them with as much information as possible so they can decide what is appropriate for their children to watch.”

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This aversion to homosexuality and homosexual conduct has been ingrained in the media since its conception. Time Magazine expressed disdain for homosexuality in 1966 when it published an essay titled “The Homosexual in America” claiming homosexuality “deserves no encouragement, no glamorization, no rationalization, no fake status as a minority martyrdom, no sophistry about simple differences in taste-and, above all, no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness.” Even the American Psychology Association included homosexuality in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) until 1973.

Naturally, during this time the percentage of gay, lesbian and bisexual people seen on television was practically nonexistent, forcing heartthrobs like Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter to conceal their sexual orientation to ensure the success of their careers.

However, today DeGeneres, Samira Wiley, Neil Patrick Harris and Keiynan Lonsdale are all successful, highly popular television figures who make no attempt to hide their sexual orientation. This shift toward acceptance of homosexuality is reflected in a recent Pew Research Center poll that showed 62% of Americans support same sex marriage as opposed to the 27% who supported it in 1996. Since then, same-sex marriage has become legal in all 50 states.

So, what is causing this dramatic shift in opinions, visibility and acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual people? One answer is the prevalence of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the media.

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According to a recent study of college students, an increase in exposure to gay, lesbian and bisexual people in media enables groups with opposing positions to Continue reading “How TV has made us all gayer”

Books

5 queer characters in the Harry Potter universe

We all remember the iconic moment when J.K. Rowling stunned crowds at Carnegie Hall in 2007 by admitting that she’d always perceived Albus Dumbledore, the wisest and most powerful man in the wizarding world, as gay. In the proceeding months, J.K. sustained hefty criticism from far-right, religious leaning people. They claimed her admission of Dumbledore’s sexuality was an attempt to indoctrinate children with the “gay agenda” by normalizing a sinful and disordered disposition. It was simply too liberal. Now, nearly 11 years later, J.K. is under fire once again… except this time it’s for not being liberal enough.

A few weeks ago, David Yates, director of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald, revealed that Dumbledore’s sexuality would not be explicitly explored in the upcoming film. Many fans viewed this as blatant queer erasure and were rightfully infuriated by the avoidance of their love story.  [Any person who has read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows understands how crucial Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindewald were in the development of the plot].

However, in an attempt to reverse this most recent erasure, I am drawing attention to five possible queer characters that already exist in the Harry Potter universe! (Besides Albus Dumbledore, of course) 

1) Charlie Weasley:

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First on our list is the second eldest of the seven Weasley children, Charlie. Buff, beautiful, nicely tanned and incredibly well-liked, Charlie wouldn’t need amortentia to ensnare fellow witches or wizards. During his Hogwarts years, Charlie was the epitome of popular. He was both a prefect and the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. In fact, his prowess as a seeker could have landed him a spot playing for England. However, Charlie never seemed interested in following in his parent’s footsteps by being fruitful and multiplying (over and over). Instead, shortly after graduating, he left for a dragon sanctuary in Romania. While there, he developed strong familial ties to friends but never married, had no children and seemed to lack any romantic or sexual desire.

According to J.K. Rowling, Charlie is “just more interested in dragons than women” Charlie is way more likely to be found chilling with a Hungarian Horntail than any partner. Even Rita Skeeter, the toxic daily prophet reporter, speculates about his decision to remain alone in her somewhat recent column on the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. She writes, “ Charlie, (dragon wrangler, still unmarried – why?)” 

However, J.K does an incredible job of portraying his identity as normal and healthy. He doesn’t need to be married, he doesn’t need to have a romantic interest for his life to be full and valid.

However, canonically labeling Charlie as asexual and aromantic would have been incredible for LGBTQIA+ visibility.

Continue reading “5 queer characters in the Harry Potter universe”

web series

A Christian, Gay Positive Lesbian Love Story

Is it possible for a gay person to be fully self-actualized while ascribing to the Christian faith? Is the phrase “gay Christians” inherently oxymoronic?

The Faith Diaries, a web series spin off of Lifetime’s “UnREAL” expertly challenges this dichotomy between Christianity and homosexuality. The series begins when Faith, a deeply religious woman, moves to West Hollywood with her more than best friend, Amy. These two women were raised in “God’s country” and lacked exposure to anything other than traditional, heteronormative relationships.

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This type of “God fearing” upbringing is common in the United States and up to 85% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people report being raised in a religion that is “homonegative.”  The natural solution for many LGBT individuals is to either abandon their faith or to suppress their sexual orientation. The Faith Diaries refuses to accept that Christianity and homosexuality are mutually exclusive.

Breeda Wool, who plays Faith, describes the series to Out Magazine as “a story about one person’s relationship to God and their relationship to love and discovering that those two things are not at odds.” This series is unique because neither Christianity nor homosexuality is portrayed negatively. Far too often, mainstream media treats “religion as a problem, and only as a problem” while most Christian programming refuses to show homosexuality as natural. However, The Faith Diaries manages to explore Christian themes, such as forgiveness and love, without negating the importance of accepting your true self.

When Faith and Amy first arrive in Hollywood they are two reserved “simple country girls” struggling with internalized homophobia. Neither woman can even utter the term “gay” let alone refer to the other as “girlfriend.” They were conditioned to view homosexuality as sinful and any expression of same-sex love makes them deeply uncomfortable.

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As the couple spends more time in Hollywood, they become infatuated with the freedom and vibrancy of the culture. “It’s like I’ve been living in this black and white world,” says Amy. “Now we’re out here and everything is in color.” Unfortunately, Amy experiences a kind of sensory overload that causes her to lose sight of her strict morality. She falls prey to the temptations of the big city and begins a relationship with another woman behind Faith’s back.

Continue reading “A Christian, Gay Positive Lesbian Love Story”