Starting in the 1990s, people of the sexual minority started being represented in mainstream television. While the characters Jodie Dallas in Soap (1977) existed, they were not always shown in the best of light. Shows like Roseanne, which featured one of TV’s first same-sex kisses and marriages, helped normalize gay people. Other popular 90s shows that featured LGB characters include, Friends, Will and Grace, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. These shows, however, tended to belittle the queer experience and often only gave one narrative of what it was like to be a queer person. For instance, both Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and Jack MacFarland (Sean Hayes), of Will and Grace, both were fashionable and often seemed quite predatory towards other.
Recently, however, there has been a surge of positive representation of gay people. Shows like, Glee and Grey’s Anatomy, both give just as much attention to their (numerous), queer couples. According to a poll by The Hollywood Reporter in 2012, 27% of people said that LGBTQ+ representation in television shows helped them become more “pro-gay marriage”. Queer representation in television the 2000s and 2010s has helped lead to a culture of acceptance and eventually to more people’s support of gay marriage. For instance, gay marriage was made legal in all fifty states only three years after this poll was taken. This poll was taken during the 2012 election race, between President Barack Obama and Senator Mitt Romney, and supporters of both candidates self-reported that seeing gay people in television made them more tolerate of gay people in real life. Hopefully, this trend will continue and queer representation in television will lead to more policies protecting queer folx and to more inclusion in all aspects of life.
It is important to point out that up until fairly recently most queer representation in media has been of white people and not of people of color. The next installation of this blog series will focus on the erasure of queer people of color in the television and movie industry and why Moonlight’s Oscar win is so important.
Featured Image via: Glee Wikia