Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gay Men + American Television

There are many thoughts that ran through my mind when reading, "Representing Gay Men on American Television," by Kylo-Patrick Hart, and the prevalent issue was how many times I have remained silent in class when the topic(s) of gay culture have emerged. It is with little shock or surprise that I am a gay man, but one in which that I rarely let my sexuality define me. I'm a Soldier, a journalist, a bartender, a graduate student and a cellist. I have friends in every walk of life, of every shape, color and religious preference, and of varying degrees of sexual orientation. So I will say, first and foremost, that I do believe gay characters on mainstream television does to some degree shape the minds of society. I think it important to add that it has more effect on those with no gay friends, family members or co-workers, at least not that are open about their sexuality. Those with no "open" or "out" relationships (friendships) with gay men and women in life probably do struggle with accepting homosexuality as commonplace, let alone fully believing it no more a choice than loving someone of the opposite sex.

I grew up watching the series listed and talked about in this article. And to show you how much they influenced or had an impact on me--I could only remember the gay character from Rosanne. While I loved, and watched religiously, 90210, Melrose Place and Party of Five, I could not actively remember those gay characters listed. Still ashamed of admitting my own sexuality, I did take the first leap as a 17-year-old freshman at Northwest Missouri State University, when I wrote my analysis of gay culture portrayed on television in a 2003 editorial. I would later go to attempt launching Nebraska's first full-color, high-gloss LGBT magazine and even years after try again in an online format where I could offer up my own opinions of gay culture in Nebraska.  

Hart's analysis is accurate, even to this day. Last year, while the list was large for supporting roles of gay men and women in broadcast television programming, only five leading characters among four shows prevailed. Cable television programming would add an addition of four gay or lesbian characters to leading roles, and countless supporting roles. 

Do you believe gay men to still be stereotyped? I would say, of course--stereotypes exist because there are truths to them. I wouldn't say that we are always fairly represented in mainstream media, but a few are fighting to keep some stereotypes at bay. Anderson Cooper and Ellen are prime examples of media leaders that break through the stereotypes provided in fictional programming and showcase a diverse (and inside) look at what being gay really means.

While I have yet to turn on a television today, I am pleasantly surprised to come across a NY Times article that a few Key Republicans announced today their support for gay marriage and the reversal of Prop 8 in California. I hope that news outlets hit this issue hard (as usual as of late), and that the media can again act as a catalyst for positive change in equality and human rights in America. 

1 comment:

  1. Riley - I was excited to have another class with you and I love your passion to speak your opinion. Your LGBT magazine looks great and your writing really conveys an honest opinion. You admit there are still stereotypes (even some that are true) but it's people like you speaking out that help bring clarity to it all! Great post and thanks for linking to your past articles.