Get LOUD over homophobia!

Posted on 01/11/2014 by

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North Edinburgh Young Peoples Forum member LAURA says we must speak out when we encounter homophobia …

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How are the LGBTQIA* community portrayed in the media?

Society has certainly progressed in the acceptance of people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex or asexual, but how do we portray them in media?

Many people are still offended by people identifying as LGBTQ, but with same-sex marriage being legalised in many countries and states, the media is starting to recognise and portray more LGBTQIA people in films and TV Shows.

However, if a character in a TV show is portrayed, for example, as being lesbian, their sexuality is almost always a huge part of the plot and they are commonly shown as having had many girlfriends just to prove that they are lesbian. The same goes for people being portrayed as gay.

But TV shows are reluctant to feature transgendered people, whether they are trans-male/trans-female or simply non-binary, and asexuals/aromantics are normally shown as people who haven’t ‘met the right person’.

However, while TV Shows and films are certainly improving the way they portray LGBTQIA people, some channels are still portraying them negatively.

Stonewall, a charity for LGBTQIA people, discovered that “Gay people and their lives are five times more likely to be portrayed in negative terms on the BBC” and that “BBC programmes frequently use gay sexuality for making jokes or as an insult, and rely heavily on clichéd stereotypes”.

In July 2010, Stonewall published research about representation in youth television: 49% of portrayal was stereotypical and 0.6 of the content they viewed portrayed LGBTQIA people ‘positively and realistically’.

So what is there to do about negative portrayal of the LGBTQIA community in media?

Obviously, you can complain to the television companies, but not a lot can come from a single complaint letter or e-mail. The key to making a difference is to get LOUD.

You can get into contact with various different charities, Stonewall is an excellent example of one of them, and organise a protest or campaign. You can get your friends and families all to write letters of complaint – the more the merrier. You can put what you’ve seen on the internet for the world to see. There are countless other ways to stop discrimination against LGBTQIA people, and its easy to get involved.

Whether you’ve read something homophobic in a newspaper or magazine, seen stereotypes of LGBTQIA people on TV, or heard something offensive on the radio, it’s easy to get involved, and it’s your responsibility. If everyone waits for somebody else to do it – nobody will.

You can see Stonewalls page about the portrayal of LGTQIA people in the media at: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/what_we_do/research_and_policy/2875.asp

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Laura, North Edinburgh Young Peoples Forum

Pictures by Nicki and Josh (NEYPF)

* Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and asexual.

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