Keena B. Colorado

LGBT+ Representation In The Media

A bisexual student's thoughts on the lacking of LGBT+ representation in the media, why it is an issue, and how to solve said issue.

Dear Future President,

Bisexual people have the highest rate of suicide in the LGBT+ community. Our feminine counterparts are only represented in a highly sexualized way. Our masculine counterparts barely even exist in the media’s eyes. People find it impossible to understand that we could possibly exist. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program conducted a survey that discovered that 72% of victims of anti-LGBT+ homicides were transgender. That survey also found that transgender people are 3.7 times more likely to experience physical harm from the police, as well as 1.8 times more likely to be the victims of sexual violence. The Leadership Conference revealed that 16% of lesbians reported being victims of violent crime - and many more cases go unreported. Not only that, but hypersexualization is a real problem - an issue that has so many examples that nobody can seem to find an exact number. However, almost any lesbian can tell you how often they get comments from men about how ‘hot’ it is that they like other women, as if they like women solely for the man’s benefit. There is no excuse for this.

There have been many lesbians in T.V. However, that does not mean they are well represented. A website called found that by March 15th, there were about 195 lesbians or bisexual women in relationships with other women on at least semi-popular American television shows. Of those 195, 165 of them died or ended the relationship on a sour note. If it was a bisexual woman, then she broke up with her girlfriend and went back to dating men. This is called the Bury Your Gays trope. As time goes on, more and more television shows allow lesbians or bisexual women to appear on our screens - only to kill them off a season later, if even that. This is not okay. Suicide is the leading cause of death in the LGBT+ community, and lesbians are two to six times more likely than heterosexual people to commit suicide. By showing lesbians on T.V., they are given a sense of hope that they are not alone. However, when they kill said lesbians off for the ‘shock factor’, they take away that hope and show young lesbians that they are only good for a brief storyline and an emotional death. There is no excuse for this.

In a survey conducted by the Pacific Center, only 12% of transgender people shown on television since 2002 were considered accurate. The other 88% were too derogatory, negative, and/or offensive to fit into this category. And that's of the appearances on just 102 episodes in which they appear. Think about that for a minute. Of the thousands of episodes that have aired in America since 2002, only 102 of them have any transgender representation. Of those 102 episodes, only 12% have been positive. This just continues the harmful idea that transgender people don't exist or that it's ‘just a phase’. Not only that, but any transgender youth that may see the other 88% of negative representation may become depressed, ashamed, and withdrawn. As we all know, these three traits often lead to suicide. There is no excuse for this.

For my example of the lack of bisexual representation in the media, I would love to give you more facts and statistics. Unfortunately, the sad truth of it is that there are none. We have such little representation that there are no true studies on it and its effects. Consider that, for a moment. Try, for example, to imagine a world where there are no straight people in the media. Nearly everybody else is represented, and the media continues to get praised for being so diverse. The moment you ask why there aren't more straight people represented, though, people turn around and get mad at you, demanding to know why you can't just be happy to have all these other sexualities represented. Or perhaps even saying that straight people don't exist. It's hard to believe, isn't it? Who in their right mind wouldn't represent and cater to everyone?

Exactly. There is no excuse for this.

There is a solution to all of this, though. Recently, D.C. announced that their much beloved Green Lantern character would be gay in the newest series. In retaliation, Marvel turned around and announced that they were going to show the first same-sex marriage. These are two huge, rival comic book companies, and this is not the first time they have competed to have more representation in their comic books. My proposal: encourage this type of thing in all companies. Take - for example - James Bond. Encourage them to make a major character or even James Bond himself bisexual, or transgender. Then, hype it up. Get people really excited for it - without telling them that James Bond and/or the other character is transgender or bisexual. The opening night, it will make lots of money because everybody wants to see a new James Bond movie. When they discover this bisexual/ transgender person is playing a major role on their screens, there will be an outcry. So much outcry, in fact, that it will reach the LGBT+ community. We are so deprived for content that we will go running to our nearest theater to see an interpretation of ourselves on the big screen. It’s a win-win. The moviemakers get lots of movies, you get credit for endorsing a good LGBT+ movie, we get amazing representation. Then, other big companies will get wind of this new James Bond movie concept, and its success. Soon, people will be forced to acknowledge that there is nothing to fear of bisexual/transgender/gay people, because some of their new favorite characters will be one of those things. After all, you cannot have hate without fear, and you cannot have fear without ignorance. Take away the ignorance, and you have attacked the root of the problem.



Mead High School

Mead High School Maverick Writers

Juniors and seniors from Advanced Placement Language and Composition.

All letters from this group →