I’ve heard the claim, from several corners, that the LGBT community is overrepresented in television.
It’s not true.
Let’s lay aside the argument that the LGBT population should be normalized in culture, that they should be much more represented than they currently are, that perhaps an overrpresentation of LGBT people is the right move.
The fact is that LGBT characters on film match closely with the number of LGBT characters there actually are these days. Complaints about overrepresentation are actually advocacies for underrepresentation.
Not convinced? I’ll prove it.
The last time we looked at this was in May 2018.
4.5% of people said they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. And among millenials, it’s as high as 8.1%
However…the numbers, in that case, kinda lie. That’s because a wopping 8.2% of American men and 8.7% of women actually confessed to same-sex sexual behavior in 2014.
Having sex with the same sex…is a pretty good indication that you’re gay.
So we’ll peg the number of accurate representation — including people in denial and in the closet — on at LEAST a conservative 8.2%.
Here’s the other thing: this is in a SURVEY. In which people were expected to tell the truth. It’s probably higher, because we know that people are prone to lie about this kind of thing, especially when asked about it face to face (online questionnaires have revealed as high as a 19% rate for females who had same-sex experiences and 17% for males who had same-sex sexual experiences) — but we’ll go with 8.2%.
How many are actually represented as being LGBTQ in television, including those “in the closet”?
Which is a a lot less than 8.2%. This is including people on television in every configuration — characters with occasional same-sex experiences, characters who may publicly identify as straight but may privately be gay — the whole bit.
Now, we can talk about how the LGBTQ community is portrayed in media. That is a valid and needed conversation. Because the portrayals are, very often, extremely problematic.
But let’s be clear about what the problem is. In the first place, we can solve the problem with MORE representation of LGBTQ people, not less. In the second place, it’s factually true that the LGBTQ population is not overrepresented in media.
What we need to focus our conversation on is HOW the community is portrayed, and how we can ensure that they are portrayed in a healthier light.
So let’s go forward with that knowledge. Putting LGBTQ characters in TV isn’t merely, in and of itself, a hyper-politically-correct move. It’s real. And taking them OUT of our TV shows — that’s where the real politically correct, don’t-offend-the-straights-or-make-them-uncomfortable is.
I mean…if you knew how incredibly hard and difficult it is for gay couples to find TV shows that portray them in a positive light, you’d be surprised. I, personally, know at least five same-sex couples in my life, and three with children. And yet I have a hard time bringing to mind TV shows or movies that feature same-sex couples with kids.
There is no problem with LGBTQ overrpresentation.
The problem is with LGBTQ underrepresentation. And with the fact that, the few times we actually DO get an LGBTQ character on screen, their status of being LGBTQ often becomes a problem in the storyline, whereas being straight is not the problem at all. Few portray LGBTQ people as not problems, as living their lives…but that is so often the reality in real life, according to what I see. Sure, there’s prejudice. But that’s bigoted people’s problem. Yes, there is a struggle with prejudice, but most LGBTQ people I know seek out their corner of heaven on this earth and grow strong there.
But you rarely see these characters in our movies and TV shows. So…they’re underpresented, overall — so much so that some same-sex parents have had to create their own media for their children. Obviously, their representation needs to get better, not worse. At least, if you’re a fair-minded person. If you’re not, carry on being an asshole — just don’t make the ridiculously outrageous argument that LGBTQ peopls are overrpresented in TV and movies ever again.
And thanks for reading.
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