Forty years ago, in Britain, loving the wrong person could make you a criminal. Back then, homosexuality was still illegal; hundreds of thousands of men, who wanted easy convictions, feared being picked up by zealous police, often for doing nothing more than looking a bit gay. And it wasn’t until the 5th of July 1967, at 5.50 am, when the bill to legalise homosexuality limped through its final stages in the House of Commons.
Almost half a century has gone by and since then, same sex marriage has been legalized in the country and the media has played an important role regarding homosexuals’ integration within our society. However, a question bears in our mind. Have we really changed our opinion regarding homosexuals? Has the image from LGBT in cinema, print media and TV shows helped to integrate or discriminate even more this community?
Although there have been many negative consequences that have aroused from LGBT portrayal in the media, positive changes have emerged over the last three decades for their inclusion. The portrayal of the LGBT community through media, historically speaking, has been negative due to the intolerance seen in cultures. However, progress (specifically from the 1990’s onward) has made large steps in North America to include more LGBT issues and concerns, as well as a presence in mainstream media.
The LGBT community has taken an increasingly proactive stand in defining its own culture with one primary goal of achieving an affirmative visibility in the mainstream media. This positive portrayal of the LGBT community, even its presence in print media, is important to increase the acceptability and support for the LGBT community, as it creates and solidifies the LGBT community as a norm while providing information on the topic.
Will & Grace stands as a representation of when homosexual relationships portrayed by mass media (radio, television, and movies) began to be broadly accepted within society. Shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Greek, Ugly Betty, Modern Family and One Life to Live depict homosexual characters that are actively engaged in onscreen relationships that very closely reflect the traditional heterosexual ones. Despite this positive representation, doubts and suspicions remain regarding the LGBT’s credibility in being responsible parents as well as sensible individuals.
Indeed, if we look closely at their image on TV shows, homosexuals are sometimes caricaturised as wild party and gossip people. This is clearly not the right image to display to win social recognition. Indeed, this portrayal can lead to prejudice as to know if the LGBT community can be trustworthy and reliable parents? As a consequence, a clear balance in the future using some of their personal attributes with humour yet depicting them as thoughtful citizens may be the right thing in order to avoid any misunderstood but also to get a total inclusion in the current society.