Wednesday, 3 February 2016

LGBT representation in the 1980's

The negative representation of the LGBT community in the media.

GLAAD – The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

GLAAD’s first meeting was held on November 14th 1985, in response to the negative way the New York Post was covering the HIV and AIDS issue. Its first protest was against the New York Times editorial policy and GLAAD was successful in persuading the New York Times to change their policy to using the word ‘gay’ rather than using derogatory terms. This was just the beginning for GLAAD, as their influence spread and soon other media sources were changing their policies to be less homophobic.

As at this time the LGBT community were portrayed on screen in negative and misunderstood ways, which due to the entertainment industries influence on the public led to misconceptions about LGBT people and AIDS, which was prominent in the media at the time.  

GLAAD is still a prominent group today, as they work with the media to build support for the LGBT community. They also share stories from the LGBT community in Spanish in order to increase understanding and support for LGBT members in the Spanish speaking community. They also host the GLAAD media awards which honours different entertainment Medias for their accurate representations of the LGBT community and issues. Amongst their thirty awards are those such as, ‘Outstanding Film’ and ‘outstanding newspaper article’.

Without groups like GLAAD, there may not have been any change in the representation of LGBT individuals in the media. Which would have a negative impact on furthering the LGBT cause, as media plays a big part in public opinion. Changes to the media and their repetition of LGBT people may not be as big of an issue as it was in the 1980’s but GLAAD’s lasting legacy is the fact that media has become much more inclusive of LGBT people, stories, and entertainment since GLAAD’s creation in 1985.

This is not to say that the portrayal of the LGBT community is perfect today, as GLAAD produced a study which showed that of 102 major films in 2013, only 17 had any LGBT characters. And even then the majority of these characters were offensive representations. Yet compared to the 1980’s the current representation for LGBT people has greatly improved. As in the 1980’s gay characters were often marginal characters or comedic.


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