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No Money? Big Problem!

Do you like my content? Check out my classmates’ blog about the increasing wage gap and poverty. It is certainly worth the read! I check regularly for updates and so should you!!!!

Thank You!

During this assignment, I really wanted to go outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to look at shows outside of my immediate sphere.I chose this topic because I am a queer woman and I noticed a lot of misrepresentation in the television. Despite of this, I wanted to try to take an unbiased approach. I wanted to look deeper and see if our representation on television was horrible. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. We have come so far within the past 10 years.

After our introduction post, I starting brainstorming potential topic ideas. I still have many ideas, including looking at the relationship between Bert and Ernie and gay “afterthoughts” like Albus Dumbledore. As a sexuality studies minor, I want to learn as much as I can about issues surrounding gender and sexuality. This assignment allowed me to read, watch, and explore so much. I was already doing these things, but I felt less guilty because I was doing it for a class it. I was able to develop an even better understanding of this topic.

Sometimes, I struggled remembering to update my blog because the deadlines were pretty soft, but I developed some discipline through this project. I am most proud of my post about Moonlight. I was able to take something from current events and turn around and make it a post, something I had never done before.

I know this is a required class, but I wanted to make the most of it and learn how to write in a variety of ways. I am very glad that we did not just write a typical social sciences paper because as a social science major, I already do this so much and know how to do this well. The blog format makes it a less formal medium to discuss issues on, so I felt like I could write on more controversial issues and explore my personal writing style more. This blog helped me develop as a writer and as a person. I will likely continue to update this blog from time to time because I enjoyed it so much. Thank you all so much for sticking with me through this and reading my posts. You’ve been totally awesome.

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What Can Representation Even Do?

 

What can representation even do? The answer is simple: it can change our nation. Now, I know what you are thinking. How can having queer characters change our country? The short answer is that on its own, it can’t. The truth is that having these characters just contributes to the overall development of a nation that supports queer individuals. Throughout this blog, I’ve discussed how this happens, through exposure. Learning about queer people and understanding them, helps people who are ignorant of the issues recognize that queer people are just people. In 2015, just before gay marriage was made legal in all 50 states, former President Obama said:

“However the decision comes down on the marriage issue, one thing’s undeniable: There has been this incredible shift in attitudes across the country. When I became president, same-sex marriage was legal in only two states. Today it’s legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia. A decade ago, politicians ran against LGBT rights, today they’re running towards them, ’cause they’ve learned what the rest of the country knows — that marriage equality is about our civil rights, and our firm belief that every citizen should be treated equally under the law.”

If we cannot come together on this issues, we will not be able to continue to protect LGBTQIA+ people. Acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people is becoming so widespread, in part due to our normalization of queer people. For instance, President Donald Trump’s administration is one of the most conservative we’ve had in quite some time, yet they still support Executive Order 13672, signed by Obama, which protects queer people from discrimination in the workplace. If we continue to represent queer people well, there will continue to be a more positive attitude about them across our nation.

featured image via PinkNews

 

Oliver’s Fight: God Bless Shonda Rhimes

CAUTION: How to Get Away with Murder Spoilers ahead!

I LOVE Thursday nights. Shonda Rhimes has me completely captivated to the point that I will not make plans on Thursday nights, so that I can curl up in my snuggie and watch her line up on ABC. Her hit, How to Get Away with Murder, is one of my favorite television shows right now. It is so inclusive and explores so many different aspects of diversity, without making it seem unnatural (which is an amazing feature of all of Rhimes’ shows).

For many, the season finale of HTGAWM was disappointing. A lot of critics felt as though Connor and Oliver’s story line had been told before. Others felt as though Connor was being slut shamed by Oliver. HIV/AIDS is not discussed very much on television, despite the fact that 1.2 million Americans have it. 19% of gay and bisexual men have it and that number only increases for gay and bisexual black men. While HIV/AIDS is not an exclusively queer disease, fighting against them has often been a queer fight. This show models how to have safe sex (everyone, not just queer people should regularly get tested!) and explores the relationship after one partner is diagnosed. Before this show, I was not even aware that PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) existed.

Check out this blog that discusses the implications of HIV in today’s world!

 

Ellen: A Beacon of Inspiration

The clip below changed the game for television.

When most people my age or younger think about Ellen DeGeneres, we tend to think Dory or hilarious, lesbian talk show host, not revolutionary, but that’s exactly what she is. In 1996, Ellen’s character, Ellen Morgan came out on national television and it sent tidal waves through the entertainment industry. Despite the episode winning multiple Emmy’s, however, ABC decided to cancel the show after just one more season. The final season had to have a “parental warning” before every episode.

Then when Ellen came out in real life on the cover of TIME magazine and the Oprah show in 1997, it was a really big deal but shortly after Ellen’s career tanked. Her show had been cancelled and no one was hiring her.Ellen had to build herself back up through Finding Nemo (2003) and then through her talk show.

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Ellen had deliberately started her career without discussing her sexuality because she wanted people to just get to know her first. She thought that if people knew her and liked her, that it would not be as big of a deal. She was working on acceptance. In a study by Variety magazine, Americans cited Ellen as the single most influential person on their attitudes about gay rights. Ellen was so influential that former President Barack Obama presented her with a Medal  of Freedom. He said, “Again and again Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, and more loving place so long as we just keep swimming.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do We Do Now?

In the weeks leading up to last November’s presidential election, it became very clear to me that Donald Trump was going to win. I attend a fairly liberal university and everyone around me was so excited for Hillary to win. My social media feeds, on the contrary, were full of support for our current president. On Election Day, I sent my mentor an email with the subject line, “what do we do now?”.  Since Inauguration Day, queer people have been living in fear due to the policies and practices that Trump’s administration, especially Vice President Pence, support. During his campaign, Trump was never very clear on his stance on LGBTQIA+ plus issues and Mike Pence was criticized many times because of his statements about conversion therapy.  There are a lot of ways that as a country we can improve the experiences of queer people in America, but an easy way is through better, more complete representation in media.

A lot of the hostility against queer people is deeply rooted in religious opposition. Many of our leaders, especially our more conservative ones, sometimes let their religious convictions sway their decision making skills. Though we have the separation of church and state, our nation was built on Judaeo-Christian values and many leaders want to keep this intact. On this blog, I have discussed how much queer television can help non-queer people understand the queer experience more and help them sympathize with queer people, causing them to help fight for the rights of queer people. More queer media would also help more queer people love themselves. Having more inclusive and whole queer characters could help our nation grow into a place of love and acceptance.

featured image via ABC News

 

Shameless Plug

Check out this really cool blog about how people perceive the entirety of the populace of the website 4Chan as racist and bigoted, although this is only a few threads on the message boards. As a Tumblr user myself, this was a really eye-opening blog to read!

Feature image via Wikipedia

Queer Representation in Media: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Queer characters have been a topic of discussion for as long as they have existed. Up until the 1970s, queer people were not even represented fairly in mainstream television or movies at all. If there was a queer person, it was a great tragedy, they were sick or they were a sinner. We’ve come a long way since then but we still have so much farther to go. For instance, in more recent years, queer characters, especially queer women, tend to die at alarming rates (a trope known as “Bury Your Gays” in media circles).

I wanted to start this post out by acknowledging that it is inherently problematic to always discuss sexuality and gender identity together because they are not the same thing. It is often said that, a person’s sexuality is who someone wants to go to bed with and someone’s gender is who they want to go to bed as.However, because a person’s sexuality depends on what gender(s) they are attracted to, they are often discussed together. This post will focus on the increase in LGBTQIA+* representation in film and television, and how representation have affected and continue to affect policies and popular opinion about queer people.

The video above describes the main points that this post is trying to convey. Basically, how queer people are depicted on television and movies can influence the way people see queer people. This is true of stereotypes of all kinds of people. For instance, in 1915, a movie called Birth of a Nationwas made and in it African American men were depicted as predatory and evil.  This helped perpetuate the stereotypes that already existed for African American men, so soon after the ending of slavery. This film helped people buy into the fact that African American people were bad. 

In a study performed by Iman Tagudina at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, studies how stereotypes of queer people on television can influence a person’s view of queer people. She argues that while there is no “before television,” because we are all exposed to it at such a young age, that stereotypes that we have learned are reinforced. Tagudina uses Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory, which states that the more time people are exposed to television, the more likely they are to believe that television programs display reality. Tagudina finds that one of the more pervasive stereotypes that is portrayed is that of the parlor gay, also known as a camp gay or the idea that all gay men are supposed to be very effeminate, even to the point of wearing women’s clothing. This is not the case and even if some gay men do this, not all of them do. This helped people believe in this stereotype and treat people as such.

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Cast of Will and Grace, a show with a prime example of a camp gay character, Jack McFarland (image via Pink News)

Today, camp gays are still found in all kinds of television. Network television shows like Glee and Modern Family have characters like Kurt Hummel, the first person to come out at his high school who sings in a contralto and loves fashion, and Cameron Tucker, a man who loves Broadway and wears loud colors . Reality television shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race or numerous programs from the network Bravo ( for example, Shah’s of Sunset) show gay men in real life who behave this way. This new effeminate men however, show more dimension and are people outside of their queerness. This has helped lead to the increase in support of gay people. People are able to see members of the LGBTQIA+ as people.

All kinds of stereotypes and stories of queer people are shown on television and this can lead to many negative impacts on the community like people believing that their bigotry is the norm because a beloved television character discriminated against an LGBTQIA+ person or that queer people are entirely one-dimensional and that their queerness is the entirety of their essence and identity. Another affect of negative stereotyping is that of people whose only experience of an openly queer person is in the media. If the media portrays queer people all the same, or negatively, these people may get a “single story” idea of queer people.

On the other hand positive representation can help non-queer people accept and understand members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In a poll by The Hollywood Reporter (previously mentioned in on this blog in this post), voters who watched television programs with gay characters in them, were more likely to be pro-marriage (this poll was conducted in 2012 before marriage equality was legalized in 2015), even among voters who planned on voting for the more conservative candidate during the 2012 election, Mitt Romney. Positive queer representation is helping people become more accepting of queer people in real life.

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Connor and Oliver from How to Get Away with Murder, neither of which are stereotypically gay (image via Greg in Hollywood)

So when you are enjoying a form of media, whether that be a television show, a movie, a comic, a song, remember to think about whether it is helping the LGBTQIA+ community or harming it. Here are some steps to analyze this media for yourself (adapted from Media Smarts):

  1. Who made this media? Was it queer people?

If the piece was made by queer people, they probably worked very hard to make sure that they were representing people well. However, this may not always be the case. There may have been pushes from their network to change things or they wanted to appease their viewers. Also, look to the creators identities.  A cisgender gay man might not always understand the struggles of a transgender man and may play into stereotypes.

  1. How do the people look? Is the gay man flamboyant? Does the gender queer person have neon hair?

This is called playing into “queer aesthetics”. Again this most likely means that the creators were trying to appease a larger audience. If this is the case, there might be other forms of misrepresentation in the piece.

  1. How does the LGBTQA+ community feel about this piece?

Do queer people actually enjoy this piece? What are they saying about it? If they do not enjoy it or say it misrepresents them, listen to them. They know more about their identity than you do.

*The plus (“+”) represents all of the other identities that fall under the queer umbrella. Here are a few examples of such identities and other helpful vocabulary to know when discussing gender and sexuality. For a more comprehensive list, check out this glossary, made by The Safe Zone Project.  

Queer- an umbrella term for people who identify as not straight and/or as not cisgender; used to be used as a slur and can still be offensive in many contexts

Romantic attraction- who you want to love

Sexual attraction- who you want to have sex with

Aesthetic attraction- who you find beautiful

Polysexual- being attracted to at least two genders (bisexual and pansexual fall under this)

Polyamorous- being attracted to multiple people at once

Genderqueer, Gender non-conforming (GNC), genderfluid, non-binary (NB)- people who live outside of the binary

Agender- someone who does not identify with any gender

Cisgender- someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth

 

 

Featured Image via Buzzfeed

EDITED AND REUPLOADED FOR FORMATTING ISSUES AND BROKEN LINKS ON 3/20/17. ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON  3/10/17.

Forget the Mix-Up: Why Moonlight’s Oscar Win is So Important

After Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty mistakenly announced La La Land as the winner of the Academy Award’s Best Picture, people seem to have forgotten to talk about the importance of Moonlight’s win. Ten years after the first LGBTQ+ film was nominated for an Oscar (Brokeback Mountain’s  loss in 2007 was a surprise to many), Moonlight became the first LGBTQ+ movie to win the award. 

Moonlight is important for queer people in general, but it is even more important for queer people of color. Up until fairly recently, there was not very much, if any, representation of queer people of color in mainstream media and after the past two years of every single acting award nominee being white (#OscarsSoWhite), it was refreshing to see many stories about people of color in the mix. With the rise of streaming services, like Netflix or HBO,  releasing their own content, shows featuring queer people of color have been popping up exponentially. These services are not as limited with what they can show, because they are not on regular television and they often discuss deeper content than their small screen counterparts. With shows like Orange is the New Black taking the world by storm, regular network shows have been pushed beyond to work to be more inclusive, giving us shows like Grey’s Atanomy and How to Get Away with Murder.

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