It was less difficult for Prince Charming to find Cinderella than it was for the LGBTQ+ community to find acceptance and recognition. Stereotypes, judgements, hatred and every other possible obstacle have been hurled down the paths of those belonging to the community. “Struggle” is an underrated term. Society has been every kind of evil stepmother it could’ve been, being unfair and unjust, and the most important influencer, the media, never did a good job helping them as well.
For as long as one can remember, the media was mostly negatively representing the community and invoking disrespect among the audience. Brewing comedy from the community via cultural appropriation being inculcated in various movies or television series, the community had majorly been a laughing stock of Hollywood and its viewers, forcing queer people to live a lie and never truly exercise being themselves. The closeted ones could never make it out, fearing rejection and disgust. William Dickinson and Thomas Edison’s The Gay Brothers (1895) was amongst the first perceived media representation of homosexuality on the screens. And others that followed did so for the mere extraction of humour.
While the upcoming years tried to reduce the negativity, the religions promoted their view of this “sin” and would take charge for censoring any, regardless of positive or negative, display of homosexuality. One fine day in 1969 at a peaceful gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, havoc paid an unexpected visit with the NYC police raiding the bar. This led to an uproar from the community and thus began the Stonewall riots which again brought the community into the limelight of the media as genuine and legitimate news for the first time.
In the following years, a series of protests and movements emerged that stirred a form of acceptance in the media. Where one newspaper hired an out of the closet journalist to regularly report the community’s news, the other censored every article or report which included any sense of homosexuality.
“Bury your gays” was a trope that held significance for the LGBTQ+ in the media which was actually heartbreak for the on-screen homosexuality. This trope included the queer love story coming to a tragic end in either death or realization that the character was never gay. This was a way for the gay writers to portray the community on the big screen while also not being cancelled by the homophobes and the majority audience.
Right behind it came the musical era where the confession of homosexual love was very cleverly underlaid and projected in their lyrics. A feeling of compassion and warmth spread among the listeners, as they slowly started looking at queer people as people who have feelings and fell in love too.
Soon the 2000s rolled in and the LGBTQ+ community got more recognition from all over the media, and more importantly the social media. A wider range of the people from the spectrum, including asexuals, pansexuals, non-binary people, and such were portrayed and made the audiences even more aware of the spectrum being not limited to just the mainstream L, G, B and T. TV shows and movies and social media pages emerged with a more positive and humanitarian outlook and allies of the community increased in number. A wider message of peace towards queer people was spreading steadily.
The struggle continues today with the odd inappropriate representation here and there a bit but it’s definitely better than what any queer person could have even imagined and dreamt of, back in the black and white screen era.