The last days of 2017 should’ve reinvigorated me with a sense of new beginnings, of a clean slate ahead, and all that other nonsense associated with the “new year, new me” mantra. Social media typically adds to this outlook, with friends and family and complete strangers all promising to be better people once the ball drops at midnight. Instead of tweets about new year fitness plans and goals to hit a 4.0 GPA in school, however, my Twitter timeline was filled with replies to one type of tweet in particular:
Just looking at the amount of retweets and likes the tweet received is a little hard to swallow, knowing so many people genuinely agree with the tweet’s opinion. Indeed, similar tweets followed suit to this one. Many believe that representation for the LGBTQ+ community in entertainment is forcing a specific “lifestyle” onto others. Even before the directors of “Moana” mentioned the possibility of an LGBTQ+ Disney princess, even before this tweet was made, people were still complaining about the representation of LGBTQ+ people in entertainment. The Blaze put out an article in spring of this year explaining how Hollywood is “indoctrinating” youth with their “Leftist” displays of homosexuality.
“Movies, TV, music — these have all proven to be extremely effective vehicles for Leftism. The most effective, I’d say. Especially when it comes to kids. As parents, we need to be aware of this. We can’t downplay even something as silly as a gay subplot in a Disney film. When kids are exposed to this kind of thing, in that kind of context, they inevitably come away from it feeling exactly as the filmmakers want them to feel: that this is normal, healthy, good, desirable.”- Matt Walsh, The Blaze
A popular article was also written by a correspondent of Stephen Crowder’s blog.
“Am I saying gays should have no representation in television or movies? Of course not. But Hollywood knows it can shape pop culture and perceptions. Which is exactly what it is doing by portraying a disproportionate amount of characters as LGBTQAIP (silent F). Contrary to what you push on TV,homosexuals make up about 3.4 percent of the population, but make up 14 percent of films released in 2014. Yet they still complain about being under-represented. How the gayness is depicted I’ll address later, but the result of vastly over-representing the gay population has led to the conclusion you aimed to draw. Most Americans believe the gay population is much greater than 3.4 percent. Americans believe the gay population is 23 percent or more, as shown in recent Gallup polling.”- Courtney Kirchoff, Louder With Crowder
There seems to be a general consensus from those who don’t outright support the LGBTQ+ community: TV shows and films that include representation of the LGBTQ+ community are “forcing” a lifestyle down the throats of straight people and children. Needless to say, this accusation is ridiculous. Look, we are allowed to disagree when it comes down to our “lifestyle” beliefs. I believe for one to identify as LGBTQ+ affects no one but themselves. You might believe homosexuality goes against the bible’s teachings and thus is sinful. It would be a waste of time to combat these ideological beliefs against one another, as it takes more than just one argument to change them. However, the idea that representation of the LGBTQ+ community is somehow forcing a lifestyle onto someone, or is brainwashing kids, is an argument that can be shut down.
Let’s start with the rebuttal to the claim the Stephen Crowder article makes. Kirchoff presents a statistic about the population of LGBTQ+ community, then states that they are over-represented in entertainment due to this stat. Let’s get one thing straight: the representation of the LGBTQ+ community should not be based on how many LGBTQ+ people there in comparison to straight people. Even if we were to do this, the Gallup poll used as evidence by Kirchoff isn’t anywhere sufficient to represent a good amount of the American population. The poll was presented to 120,000 Americans, out of a 323.1 billion population. That barely accounts for 1% of the U.S population. In addition, the poll was presented to adults only, not teenagers, who are typically more aware of their sexuality. Thus, to use the poll as evidence that the LGBTQ+ community is over-represented is simply insufficient. If the poll barely even accounts for 1% of the U.S population, it’s illogical to draw the conclusion that 3.4 percent of the population is homosexual– especially since the poll is not accounting for youth.
Next, let’s address this whole argument that Hollywood and LGBTQ+ representation is forcing a lifestyle onto media consumers. If you’re going to argue that representing a gay person on television or in film is in some way forcing homosexuality down the throats of viewers, you need to acknowledge that, by your argument, representing a straight person on television or in film is forcing heterosexuality down the throats of viewers. You can’t simply ignore that fact. And hey, maybe representation of heterosexuality aligns more with your beliefs, which is all fine and good. But let’s look at it from my perspective: I’ve already stated my support of the LGBTQ+ community. Maybe I don’t want heterosexuality shoved down my throat, brainwashing my kids into thinking being straight is an acceptable lifestyle. Do you see what I’m saying? The argument has no substance, because it can be used on both sides.
I’d like to conclude this article by saying this: representation is important for any minority to see, especially in media. TV shows in which the main couple is comprised of two males should be just as acccessible and broadcasted on air as a show in which the main couple is comprised of a male and a female. I for one never accepted myself until I saw a character on TV who struggled with their sexuality, just as I was at the time. Representation normalizes the LGBTQ+ community, and you may not think being LGBTQ+ should be normalized. In that case, you can always turn the TV off or change the channel, because I promise you there are more TV shows in which the main couples are straight than gay. Just because you don’t support the community doesn’t mean you have to take away that representation, that integral stepping stone that leads to people accepting themselves for who they are.