Media hype about same – sex relationships – help or hindrance to the LGBTQ+ community?

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Trigger warning: homophobic violence

I feel like there is a bit of disparity here. It seems all the rage for mainstream media – especially magazines – to write about same – sex relationships or – more often – same – sex relations that rarely last more than one night. Yet, LGBTQ+ youth still face untold struggles around the world – something much of the media doesn’t talk about.

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about homophobia, transphobia and how LGBTQ+ youth are over – represented in youth homelessness statistics in the U.S. LGBTQ+ youth are more than four times more likely to experience homelessness. That’s only if you go by the “10%” figure which is widely criticised.

Also, around the world, many LGBTQ+ people face the risk of violence and not just in the countries where homosexuality is punishable by death in the penal code.

Pink News wrote a story of Brazilian mother, Tatiana Lozano Pereira was charged with murder after stabbing her 17 – year – old son Itaberli after a row on Christmas Day. The 32 – year – old had her son bashed before stabbing him to death. I have also pointed out in Brazil, there has been a violent backlash against the LGBTQ+ community after same – sex marriage was legalised in 2013.

Closer to home, the story of 13 – year – old Tyrone Unsworth made news after he committed suicide after facing violent homophobia due to this perceived sexuality. Unsworth isn’t alone in being victimised because of his perceived or actual sexuality. NOBullying.com reveals that studies conducted by Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that:

  • 82% of students were bullied over their sexual orientation during the previous year (2015)
  • 64% of LGBTQ students surveyed felt unsafe at school
  • 44% of students felt unsafe at school due to their gender identity
  • 32% of students avoided going to school for at least one day in fear of being bullied
  • 44% experienced physical harassment
  • 22% experienced more serious violence
  • 61% never reported abuse
  • 31% said that the school made no effort in combating abusive behaviour.

As for adults, as I research this, I’m having a hard time finding data on present or very recent anti – LGBTQ violence against adults. There’s a lot of historical stuff – the 1980’s and 1990’s were particularly bad for gays and lesbians. But I can’t find something significant in the past two or so years. This is, frankly, concerning in itself. Why isn’t this monitored and studied more regularly to keep up with current rates of homophobic or transphobic violence so it can be combated? I don’t doubt that over the past thirty or so years, attitudes about gays and lesbians have greatly improved. Still, some actual stats wouldn’t go astray.

Despite this, magazines, like Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire (Australia) are more frequently featuring women who admit to having sex and/ or relationships with other women. Very few, of the women, however, identify – or end up identifying – as LGBTQ+ – some foregoing labels altogether and most going back to having relationships with men. Now I do believe that there are some people who can’t put a label on their sexuality. Some may forego them because they are too scared to admit they’re gay or bi. Some may say their bi, only to identify as gay later on. I’m not knocking anyone who identifies as LGBTQ or foregoes labels. Sexuality can be – and sometimes is – more complex than a simple label.

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What I’m wondering is: does the media’s constant portrayal of same – sex/ non – heterosexual relationships help or hinder the LGBTQ+ community, especially when the person doesn’t identify as such? Does it enforce common myths about bisexual people? To be fair, many of these magazines do occasionally do proper articles on bisexual people and their experiences. Articles like the ones above seem to be more frequent though.

Does the media’s constant portrayal of WSW (women who have sex with women) unintentionally give people the impression that bisexuality is a phase or diminish the experience of lesbians, even enforce a theory that lesbians don’t exist.

 

In my opinion I think it could be all the above. Yes, sexuality can be complex and fluid for both men and women. It is kind of good that the media and people admit that. But bi – erasure is a problem faced by many bisexual people. There also needs to be emphasis that some women are attracted to women and only women, the same as that some men are attracted only to men. If we can be frank about all people’s experiences with their sexuality without erasing LGB people or diminishing other people’s experiences, then I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

 

What do you think? Does this portrayal of same – sex relationships help or hinder the LGBTQ+ community? Does more of this help gain acceptance or increase myths and stigma? Let me know what you think in  the comments below. 

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