ACUI conference keynote leader and already we know he’s a young white straight male who thinks he’s unique because he likes Harry potter at 23, grew up with enough money to travel the world to party, assumes we assume we’re happy in our lives, talking to us about perspective… He totally opened up with a cookie cutter audience involvement hand raising activity.
What is your understanding of the ways in which LGBT people have been represented in Hollywood cinema and Television?
LGBT people have been represented in Hollywood, I think that statement in itself demands a world of conversations. As I’ve mentioned before in Cinema and Diversity writings, and as I’ll continue to bring up; I’m Gay (historically speaking). This is one thing which makes me “diverse” and perhaps “cinematic”. Consequently, I’ve sought out LGBT cinema particularly often in my life. But as a child, I didn’t have the resources to do so. I didn’t see a gay character on Boy Meets World, F.R.I.E.N.D.S., or That 70s show (Oh wait, Episode 11 Season 1 was one episode in 8 seasons which had an openly gay character). This if anything perpetuated the light tight closet I was trapped in. How was I supposed to know that others like me existed if there where none in Putnam, CT, none in television, none in the films my parents where taking me to, certainly none in my church… How’s a boy not supposed to feel isolated?
But enough about myself, I merely wanted to get that off my chest and to have as a base knowledge for the upcoming discourse. The LGBT visage in Cinema and Television is scarce, but growing. I think that’s something we can all agree upon. But for the better? Worse? Where has it been?
The Celluloid Closet showed me a few things, LGBT characters seemed as rare and “notorious” (scandalous) as they seem to have now and seemed just as homogenous. I posted below 10 stills. The left images are from The Celluloid Closet and it’s referencing clips, and the right images are from this decade. From the man fighting the gay out of himself and thus, his homosexual partner (post 1 photo 1) to the teenager in Queer as Folk getting the gay beaten out of him from his one time sexual cohort (post 1 photo 2), we can see several consecutive comparisons to the modern homogeny of homosexual portrayals.
The only photo-duo I would argue as “progressive” is post 1 photos 5 & 6. From the mid 1900s where women judge gays derogatorily, to 2010’s KABOOM where men are loved by women for their nonthreatening gay status, we see a change in the Gay companion novelty from negative to positive. (Granted in Kaboom, Smith is only slightly right of 3 on the Kinsey and thus, more sexually fluid).
Meanwhile, I argue that the phenomenon outlined in The Celluloid Closet of gays meeting an untimely demise in an outward assault that homosexuality needs to be punished is still current. (Spoiler Alert) Karofsky in Glee doesn’t find happiness and tries to kill himself, Jack Twist is killed, the world ends in Kaboom, Justin Taylor gets beat up and stripped of his artistic prowess by loosing the use of his hands (Queer as Folk) and I’d like to see someone argue against Bruno being an outward shot through the heart of gay culture.
Gays might not be so uncertainly killed in Cinema and Television today as they have in the past, but they certainly don’t tend to lead happy lives. The only main stream exception seems to be Modern Family, where the Gay Couple lead a happy life (but we fail to see the possibility of that if you can’t afford a big house with a lawyer husband and upperclass plastic neighborhood in which you can buy your own acceptance).
In Conclusion, LGBT have a representation in Hollywood. Referencing my first paragraph; it’s nice to see that and I’d be curious what Doppleganger Garrett would’ve turned into had he grown up in a parallel universe where I was born into 2005 and got to see this mainstream increase of the LGBT face. Instead, I was absolutely blind. Maybe I didn’t have to be, maybe it was the shell of religion which kept me away from the few and far between LGBT media. But would I have been better off otherwise? Seeing the homogenous short lived depressing and unhappy life of a Gay man? As the one interviewee in The Celluloid Closet points out; Any press is good press. It’s better to be in the media portrayed negatively than not at all… right? Maybe that’s why the football Jocks are all looking each other up on craigslist, because we see that they’re not yet accepted in media. Maybe that’s why boys who are too man-hungry to remain in the closet kick it down with glitter and boas, because media shows us it’s only the flaming gays which can lead a life in the open. This is what media is currently teaching me, this is how I see the representation of Gays and this is how I view the result.
Sometimes I’m worried I’m a misogynist because I hate how some women appropriate their own identity. Sometimes I loathe my own gender, but tend to attribute that to apathy or a situation of orientation. Kate Bornstein is showing me it’s alright to occupy a third space, in between misandry and misogyny, as a gender outlaw where I can review (and if I choose, disagree with) gender as a structure itself.
That’s why I hate “Girls only” parties. That’s why “bro time” annoys me. That’s why I get pissed off for being applauded for not wearing my sexuality on my sleeve, like masculinity is so great. That’s why gays need to stop calling themselves “straight acting” on Manhunt and Grindr when no matter which way you label it, there’s still no clitoris in your bedroom.
I’ll take the anti-heroic outlaw POV of breaking down both genders instead of supporting either any day.