Why the LGBTQIA+ community pushes for representation in the media

Disney’s “Luca” was a sad but amazing movie. The animation was wonderful and the humor was well-placed. Fans of the movie took to TikTok to share theories and thoughts, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Many people theorized about a possible romance between the two main characters, as well as the movie possibly alluding to the experience of coming out. However, these theories caused backlash from parents and other fans. One of the main complaints was the fact that the characters in question are both children, which is also the film’s target audience. The community responded to this pushback with the sentiment that, if the two were opposite genders, the concerned parents would have no problem with any romance.
Many angry comments were comprised of asking why the queer community was ‘making everything gay.’ I would argue that this isn’t the case. Queer movies are few and far between, so the community is forced to make theories about characters in movies that aren’t scripted to be queer. The people who say the queer community make everything LGBTQIA+ also get angry at movies that portray even the slightest glimpse of queerness. “Eternals,” for example, features one of the main character, Phastos, being married to the same sex. Despite this detail’s unimportance to the plot, the movie went through a related controversy when it was first released. When this sort of audience upset happens, filmmakers tend to stay away from including queer representation. Another example of this is the movie “Lightyear,” released by Disney earlier this year. The movie had another same-sex couple, only featured for a few minutes, but still very controversial among some fans. One review says “There is no reason to introduce a gay or LGBT concept to an innocent mind at such an early age and normalise it.” There are many reviews criticizing this choice to include a same-sex couple in a movie for children. No complaints are made when a different-sex couple kisses or gets married. In the first “Toy Story” movie, Bo Peep and Woody kiss, yet it is still a kids movie. Many people are leaving these reviews because of homophobia, not because their children are traumatized.
Representation and feelings of acceptance are so important to the LGBTQIA+ community because they don’t have as much of it as heterosexual and cisgender people do. To feel isolated and excluded in the world is an awful feeling. Imagine every kid gets ice cream, while you have to sit out because your existence is a supposed sin. When you ask for ice cream nicely, the ice cream person gets angry because you are too greedy. Then, you are given ice and have to pretend it’s ice cream. However, when you pretend that what you have is ice cream, the other kids get mad because you’re lying about your ice being ice cream.
The exclusion of queer characters causes queer audience members to reach for any characters they might be able to see themselves in. According to Ellie Lockhart in an article on Observer, only 2% of movies feature explicit LGBTQ representation. With this meager amount of representation, queer people have a real struggle. Even with 2% of movies having explicit queer characters, many of them either feature them as a side character or someone whose sexuality is their whole character. The lack of accurate representation in media is detrimental to the queer community and their feelings of acceptance.
On the opposite side, there are many television shows that have blatant queer characters. Even shows like “Glee,” which were made in the 2000s, have queer characters. However, many queer shows on streaming sites get canceled. The majority of shows that are canceled heavily feature couples that don’t contain any men. Shows like “First Kill,” “Gentleman Jack,” and “One Day At A Time” were among the shows canceled. In fact, 21 out of 30 queer shows canceled featured queer women characters, found Sarqa Clements from Them.us. Many people were outraged at the specific cancelation of lesbian shows, much less all queer shows.
The media industry is all based on views and ratings. If a certain group doesn’t like something in a show, it can plummet the ratings and cause the creators to pull the thing in question. Unfortunately, the LGBTQIA+ community is very controversial in society. A lot of this backlash is due to religious reasons, however some can even come from members of the community themselves. Despite this controversy, the members of this community are still human. They still deserve to have representation, to be validated in their identities.
That is why the world needs more inclusive shows and movies, as well as more blatant representation. When queer people see little to no representation, it can cause feelings of isolation from the rest of the world. It has nothing to do with sexualization of child characters and everything to do with the feeling of belonging you get when you see people who are like you being normalized in the media.
Students in north were interviewed about representation in the media. These were some of the answers.
How do you feel about what rep is in the media for the lgbtqia community?
Answer: Severely lacking. Another answer: On one hand there are more gay characters, but they are not well written.
How could it be improved?
Answer: Get better writers, more inclusive. Another answer: End to capitalism
Do you personally feel represented in the media?
Answer: No, Answer: somewhat with stereotypes
Do you feel like representation is accurate or just for show?
Answer: Just for show, Answer: 50/50.