Gays And Lesbians in the Media
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Throughout television history it is hard to point out if there have ever been any lead gay characters. There was once a sitcom where the lead character was implied to be gay, in Tony Randall's "Love, Sidney" in 1981; he was a life long bachelor that had no visible interest in women (Rubin). Other than that gay characters have only been in supporting roles until Ellen DeGeneres came along. Ellen DeGeneres is valued by many gays and lesbians because she made history by coming out of the closet through her lead character role in the TV show "Ellen", and as a result made it a step easier for gays and lesbians to live their lives knowing that they may be accepted in society even if they are gay.
Ellen took a big risk, not knowing what others would think, by her coming out through her television sitcom "Ellen". The risk that Ellen took could've been her last, because it is learned in our society that gays and lesbians are inferior compared to the accustomed heterosexuals. They are seen as sinners of God because the Bible says that a relationship should only be between a man and a woman. Surprisingly, many people were contently amazed by her decision. "DeGeneres said she was overwhelmed by the number of people who had responded positively to herand her character'sdecision. I can't tell you the amount of support I have received, the people coming up to me- mostly straight- saying, "What you're doing is great!" DeGeneres said" ("Coming" Tuller). Since Ellen got such positive feedback after coming out, she knew that it was becoming more acceptable for gays and lesbians to be who they truly are.
When society saw that there was going to be a lead lesbian role on TV, it opened their minds to new views. People never knew that lesbians could be just like normal heterosexuals too. As stated in the San Francisco Chronicle, "The prospect of a lead lesbian character in a prime-time show thrilled many lesbians and gays. They said it would provide a positive role model for gays themselves and would educate straight people who might not know any homosexuals" ("Ellen's" Tuller). With Ellen exposing her true identity as a lesbian, many viewers turned off the stereotypical views of lesbians as being husky and macho and realized that they really are just like normal people.
Society then started accepting the fact little by little that gays and lesbians are human beings too.
By Ellen revealing her true sexual orientation, she made it easier for many gays and lesbians to be comfortable with themselves. There have been horrible things done to gays and lesbians like killings, which makes it hard for them to "come out of the closet". In many cases people have "come out of the closet" and were looked down upon by their friends and family that it leads them to an awful solution, suicide. As GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) spokeswoman Sally Kohn said, "This ["Ellen"] provides a role model for other people to go through the process. If Ellen can come out and life goes on, then other people can, too" (Makinen). Kohn has been encouraging gays to follow Ellen's lead of coming out. If gays and lesbian do come out, it will give them a sense of comfort to be able to live the real life that they have learned what is normal in their eyes.
The show "Ellen" itself has given such an acceptable perception to how people will react once they've revealed that they are gay. As said in the Washington Post, "For gays who have struggled with revealing their sexual orientation to family members and friends, the show provided a touchstone and, in some cases, an opportunity to reach out to family" (Makinen). The hardest part is always telling friends and family because they are the people who are most important, and by not coming out there's a big secret that's being held from them, which should never be the case. Family and friends are the people that should be able to share and hear all of a person's experiences, no matter if they are different from the norm. Ellen shows that life should be easy once it is out in the open and that people are willing to also accept you even as a gay or a lesbian. She also shows that once the true identity is out there, there is less stress in the mind of the gay or lesbian to worry about.
Many gays and lesbians respected Ellen's choice of coming out on her show. Gay and lesbian organizations such as The Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD even mailed "party kits" to people hosting parties for Ellen's show in their homes. The party kits contained invitations, and a trivia game to serve as an ice breaker at the parties. It was time to throw a party to celebrate that television was starting to deal with gay issues in a positive light. Fred P. Hochberg, an "Ellen" party thrower and son of the famous Lillian Vernon, said "It seemed to me that for many people this is a historic occasion and they would want to spend it with friends. This is a big changeto have a lesbian as a lead character on prime-time television there's a lot of apathy with the whole political process out there. Those who watch this and come to the party will see there is something they can do about it" (Rosenfield). The "Ellen" parties were an awesome opportunity for gay and lesbian friends to get together to discuss issues not only on how they are being portrayed, but also the broader issues that are concerned around them. "The San Francisco parties will likely use the occasion to call attention to broader issues of job discrimination regarding homosexuals" (Lochhead). The parties were a great way to gather gays and lesbians to show that many other people live the way they do, whether they being openly or secretively gay, and that it will soon be acceptable in the world, even if it means taking half a step at a time.
Society should be more accepting to gays and lesbians. It is hard for them to live their lives knowing that they can't be accepted in the world by everyone as a gay person. Teen News Team for New York Amsterdam News reports, "It's important that little children are exposed to the rainbow that is our society, because it introduces kids to the idea of being gay before they know what gay is. Schools are already making an effort to make young gay and lesbian voices heard by starting new clubs" (Daley). Then they article states, "People need to begin reforming with clubs like Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Student Support and Gay Straight Alliance which can help society accept homosexuals. When people see that their friends are in such clubs, they might join as well and become comfortable with gays and lesbians" (Daley). As a solution, society needs to start being educated about gays and lesbians at an early age. People are easier to teach when they are still young. As the saying goes, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." In doing this, society will change their perception of gays and lesbians in the near future and will make it easier for them to be normal and part of society.
Perceptions of gays and lesbians have come a long way since the past. It seemed taboo for them to be seen in television sitcoms back in the days. Nowadays they're seen more throughout the televisions screen. Although they are shown as the stereotypical gays (flamboyant, very feminine, having lisps) on TV, hopefully within the near future they can be shown as just regular people with the love for their same sex just as Ellen DeGeneres has done in her show "Ellen". She's taken such a big step for many gays and lesbians by coming out through the big screen and she did it in such a natural way that it may have actually made society accept them more for who they are, not what they believe in.