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LGBTQ Voices

How We Can Improve LGBTQ+ Representation in Media



Author with dark curly hair looking at the camera while standing in front of a black and white wall, in a yellow sweater
San Francisco, CA

I don’t know that I ever came out in the traditional sense of sitting your friends or family down and saying, ‘Hey, I’m gay.’ I guess I tried to do that at the end of high school, but it didn’t really feel organic.As a result, though, I guess I haven’t told very many people that I am queer, even if I’ve known them for a while. If it comes up, it comes up naturally. I think part of the reason I didn’t want to announce my queerness in a more formal way is that I was afraid it would make a bigger deal out of it than I thought was necessary.

I also think it was the classic thing of, ‘If straight people don’t have to come out, then why should I?’ I think that a lot of people feel unsafe to come out, and until the day comes where everyone feels safe, it is crucial to have vocal and visible members of the LGBTQ+ community that can serve as a healthy example of what it means to be queer or trans.

I remember when I was on the middle school swim team, I was wondering why I didn’t have any crushes on the pubescent boys my friends were all fawning over. When I was a little older, I was having some trouble breathing, so my mom sent me to a hypnotherapist (I’m from California) and the first question he asked me was if I liked boys or girls.

I responded boys without any hesitation because I knew that was the ‘right’ answer. However, on the way I home, I had a mini-crisis because that wasn’t a question I had consciously thought about before. At that moment, I convinced myself that I liked boys, and I kept trying to convince myself all throughout high school.

I think there is a lot of really great LGBTQ+ representation in media right now, but I don’t think the representation is diverse enough. A lot of the gay characters we see on television are upper/upper-middle-class, thin, cis white men.

This reflects many people’s experiences, but not the majority. If we want good LGBTQ+ representation, we need more stories about people of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, abilities, and cultures, as well as more trans narratives.

These are the people who are often left out of the narrative, but they deserve to see themselves represented. Representation in the media needs to go beyond television and films, where there has been the most visibility.

We need more LGBTQ+ voices in journalism and politics. We have things to say; we just need the platforms to express them.