When it comes to the media and the LGBTQIA+ community there’s been plenty of debates on how gay men, lesbian women, or trans people should be handled. How they should talk or walk, and what kind of problems they should have. We want to be so careful because we don’t want to stereotype or send a wrong message. That’s great and all but what I think we’re forgetting is that our community is diverse and there are all types of characters.
Take, for instance, How To Get Away With Murder’s Connor Walsh, played by the talented Jack Falahee.
His character is just an average guy. Not insanely masculine but not feminine either. He’s a smooth talker and sexually liberated but he definitely has his problems. Is he an accurate representation of the LGBTQIA+ community? Not all by himself he’s not. He’s just a facet of the community and yet he’s judged as though he represents all of us.
Why do we take apart one character from a show and say “hey that’s not an accurate depiction of gay/lesbian/trans life. We’re not all like that!” Well of course we aren’t but that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there in the world who doesn’t live there life like that.
If we want to judge the media representation of our community we need to look at all characters being presented to us as a whole and not as one character we don’t like. Right at this moment I’m okay with our current representation. Don’t get me wrong because it could definitely be better but the characters I see on TV reflect a lot of people I’ve met in person. I mean, who doesn’t know a repressed closet case like Nate Kulina in Showtime’s Kingdom or the sassy and flamboyant Cameron Tucker on Modern Family or someone strong and down to earth like Alex Vause on Orange Is The New Black.
My point is that I don’t like stereotyping as much as the next guy but there are gay men and lesbian women who might actually fit the stereotype that we fight so hard against and it’s important that we include them in the representation package. Everyone, including the flamboyant, over-sexualized, glitter-loving gay guy and the plaid-wearing, Home Depot-loving lesbian deserves to see themselves as well because they are part of the community too.
Where this would start becoming problematic would be if the only representation of queer people we got where the same old stereotype but with there being many queer faces on TV I’d say it’s pretty varied as to the personalities and aspirations of these characters. What we should probably be more focused on instead is more queer people of color being represented because that’s where we’re lacking but that’s another article for another day.
Let’s all just remember that even though you’d like to see yourself and your friends represented in the way you live your queer life, you’re not the whole community. Just like Jamal Lyon from Empire isn’t the whole community and everyone deserves representation.