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22 Jul 2005

media's portrayal of gay people
hi, why is that when-ever you see a gay person portrayed in the media (press, magazines and tv) we're confronted by outrageous, screaming queens running around in bright pink and wearing make-up? surely this is not typical of gay people? i'm gay, 34, i lead a 'normal' functional life, have a very responsible job, have a circle of friends (both gay and straight), i play sport etc, and i cringe when i see gay people portrayed as the sterotypical 'queen'. i have never worn a dress and never plan to - i'm a man who happens to be attracted to other men. i'm not sure if there's an answer to this but i need to get it off my chest.
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Expert
Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert
gay, lesbian and bisexual expert

01 Jan 0001

Hi Ducan,

I think many gay and lesbian people can relate to your sentiments. It is an interesting subject and raises many questions. It is true that straight people often view the gay & lesbian community along stereotypical lines and the media reflects this by playing a large part in upholding various myths pertaining to gays and lesbians. The vast majority of gays and lesbians are 'invisible' - blended into general society and not attracting attention on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Sadly, however, the media portrays the 'visible' element of the gay and lesbian community as being representative of us all.

On the other hand, we need to recognise that we all experience and express our sexual identities in different ways. Many people regard their sexual orientation as being central to their identities, and they thus live their lives according to norms that they equate with being gay. You sound like a regular guy, doing guy things - your sexual orientation doesn't dominate your life. This is not the case for others. We as gay people need to be tolerant of others who choose to express themselves differently.

It is possible that some gay and lesbian people's discomfort with highly visible 'queens' or other stereotypes is a resonance of our own internalised homophobia - traces of shame or guilt we carry around within us about our own homosexuality.

Some people argue that the media have no choice but to portray the more visible spectrum of the gay community simply because there are so few gay people who are not stereotypical who are 'out'.

One solution is for you to take up the issue with the media when you see something that offends you. Write to the press and to magazines, make your voice heard and thereby become more 'visible'.
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