Portrayals of Gays & Lesbians in the Media Essay

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Portrayals of Values in the Media: Gay and Lesbian Characterization By ENG122 Composition II Professor May 10, 2012 Representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons on American television have increased dramatically since the mid 1990s. Network programs like ABC’s Ellen (1994-1998) starring self-identified lesbian, comedic actress, Ellen Degeneres and Showtime’s Queer as Folk (2000-2005), have served as groundbreaking pioneers for gay and lesbian themed programming. Before Ellen, non-heterosexuals were rarely featured in TV shows as regular characters, and only once was there a television series with a main character who was a lesbian. Heartbeat was a short lived medical drama which ABC ran for only two seasons from1988 to 1989. Degeneres’ title character on Ellen boldly paved the way for script writers to create gay characters of every type to join the mainstream by coming out of the closet to represent the vast diversity of this group. Was the management of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) simply liberal-minded, or forward thinking with an eye on niche-marketing the LGBT community? What about competitor’s networks? This research project will also make comparisons between the top three national networks which existed in the Fifties and remain on-air in 2012. What, if anything, has changed about station’s inclusion and representations of gay and lesbian persons? A 2008 survey by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) found that, of the people who say their feelings toward gays and lesbians had become more favorable in the past five years, about one third credited that, in part, to characters they saw on TV. (Newsweek Magazine, November 11, 2009) This project aims to establish a relationship between broadcast media images, (past and present,) and progressive public opinion, which ultimately evolves

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