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View Diary: What Does Being Gay In America Mean? (72 comments)

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  •  Advertising meets activism (14+ / 0-)

    First of all, good to see you again, and thanks for a thoughtful post.

    One of the main issues here seems to be that the portrayal of LGBTs in media does not reflect the reality of the LGBT community.  I think a big reason for that is marketing.  LGBT publications are looking for advertisers, so they try to portray their readership as having disposable income that the readers will then spend on the advertisers' products.  TV channels likewise try to figure out what images will attract viewers, and not surprisingly, most viewers aren't interested in seeing pain, struggle, and hardship on their screens.  They want to see (or producers think they want to see) well-to-do, happy, successful LGBTs living wonderful lives.  As has always been the case, TV and movies are in part a means of escape from reality, rather than a reflection of it.

    And frankly, laziness is another factor in this.  To the extent the news media are interested in LGBTs at all, they don't want to spend a lot of time figuring out what the community looks like in real life.  To them, the LGBT community, like everything else in America, is presumed to be white.  Whiteness is the default setting.  While they may be intellectually aware of the existence of nonwhite LGBTs, it's so much easier to interview people from mostly white organizations like HRC than to try to find real LGBT people "on the ground."

    As you say, our community itself is fractious.  Every fault line that divides American society also divides the LGBT community -- race, gender, religion, class, etc. (And for gay men, serostatus.) We will need to work extra hard at reaching across those divisions if we are to become something truly worthy of the name "community."  


    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:08:29 PM PDT

    •  AMEN. (And tnank you--good to see you, too!) (6+ / 0-)

      And that is a big part of it: sales and marketing. LGBT media is trying to woo advertisers and advertisers are looking for only 1 thing--$$$$.

      All the ads for travel used to depress me, but now I just roll my eyes. It must be nice to afford all those trips to Fire Island, Provincetown and the White Party. I'll never go.

      But then, spending money isn't what being gay is about. It's certainly not about going to the gym or taking steroids either. I tried being a gym rat, but with my genetic make-up it was like trying to sprint uphill.

      I'll keep trying to seek out that sense of community and connection. More importantly, I want to keep critiquing the sanitized, lily-white, look-like-and-spend-like-a-porn-star mentality that is rife in most gay neighborhoods. We can and should aspire to create better role models and lifestyles for our LGBT youth.

      And we definitely need to keep pushing for more and better representation of people of color.  Plus, our community is aging just like the rest of society so we need to work on creating more room for our seniors, too.

    •  Well, another part of it (6+ / 0-)

      is breaking away from the "tragic queer" trope that was the only allowable portrayal of LGBT people in the media for decades.

      Up until quite recently, if you wanted to have a gay major character, they pretty much either had to have AIDS or die by the end of the show. You simply couldn't show a happy, well-adjusted gay person living a relatively normal (TV-normal) life. Not until at least the late '90s. Even then, Will on Will and Grace was - while groundbreaking - still painted in shades of tragic.

      So part of it is a backlash effect. The rest is everything you said.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:53:17 PM PDT

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      •  Ah yes, Will & Grace... (7+ / 0-)

        What I found fascinating about that series was Max Mutchnick's admission that the reason he never wrote in a permanent boyfriend for Will is because his own love life was so absolutely miserable.  He flat-out stated that as a writer he couldn't write a convincing romantic arc for Will because his own experiences with dating and romance were a disaster.

        It is more than a bit disturbing to think that a rich, famous Hollywood writer had such a horrible time finding dates and/or a semi-decent boyfriend. Of course, a few years later after the show was off the air, Mutchnick found love and was singing a different tune.

        So maybe there is hope for the rest of us after all... :)

      •  That's why I liked (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gay CA Democrat

        The Wire. The two main gay characters, Omar Little and Kima Greggs are very much part of their respective worlds. I am not gay, and am certainly not wealthy, so the gay people I know are closer to Kima than they are to the stereotypes presented in most TV shows.  

        You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

        by northsylvania on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 05:52:02 AM PDT

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