Monday, September 1, 2014
Different Shades of Gay
The way that gay men are portrayed through media, specifically television, is not only often an offensive exaggeration but also supports the American ideology that most gay men act like women. In past history, gay characters were both negatively and infrequently portrayed on television. When gay men and lesbians were represented on TV, they typically appeared as mentally unstable, or morally corrupt individuals. However, in recent years, new groundbreaking shows started to appear. In the mid-90s, a popular sitcom, Will and Grace, introduced a character who went against these common stereotypes.
Will Truman, is a different representation of a gay man than what audiences were used to. Will is a successful lawyer and a very logical thinker which began to break down those previous assumptions of the Gay community as reckless, unstable, and unable to live a moderate and professional life. Will also lives a life of routine, with little partying, and nearly no pizazz which supports the reality that gay people live an array of different lives and are not confined to one image of “gayness”.
Jack, another gay male on Will and Grace, is in many ways a perfect reflection of the stereotype of the flamboyant, fashion crazed, promiscuous gay male. I think that what makes this show revolutionary is that it shows both characters side by side, breaking down the idea that gay means one thing. Here we have one character breaking down the barriers of a stereotype and one character supporting it which reveals that both can exist together. Recently through media Americans have been given an even larger taste of what being gay can look like. Audiences can see that there is not just gay men like Jack or Will, there are many other personalities in between. Shows like Modern Family and The L Word and artists like Macklemore and Rob Halford of Judas Priest to name a small few have opened America up to the reality that being gay does not mean one fixed thing. The spectrum of what it means to be gay, straight, and everything in between is not fixed and popular culture in America is finally beginning to reflect that.