Got Gay? Teen TV does!

I read this NYT article today about therapists who counsel people on keeping their homosexuality a secret. It’s pretty interesting and genuinely worth a gander but sad! At least I think so. The article focuses on a psychologist named Denis Flanigan who is gay and feels that “Some gay evangelicals truly believe that to follow their sexual orientation means abandonment by a church that provides them with emotional and social sustenance — not to mention eternal damnation,” so if what makes them happiest is remaining in the closet, than that is how they should live their lives – despite the fact that this “means giving up any opportunity to have fulfilling relationships as gay men and women.”

While I think you should read this article and definitely comment to me about your thoughts – I find that the article pushes me to write about all the positive representation we are seeing regarding acceptance of varied sexual orientation. First of all – I haven’t noted it here, but Bravo NY for legalizing gay marriage!!! I Unfortunately, I live in a backwards state that continues to perpetuate hate and what I view as clear violations of basic civil rights – based on sexuality. (That’s right, Florida, I am calling you out this morning!) That said, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, marriage is clearly  one of the ways that our culture and culture at large perpetuates and supports herteronormative standards and benefits. As many of you know I am happily married and see no issue with commiting to love one person but theoretically, I do not agree with the link between marriage and social/governmental benefits. Not just because it favors heterosexuals but also because it discriminates against other lifestyle choices like single moms and dads. I’m off track a bit for where I want this blog post to go – but it’s also worth mentioning that tax deductions for children support heteronormative ideas as well. (Think about it; that’s all I’m saying.) Funny:

My true intention with this post is to point out what I’m calling a climate change in terms of representations of homosexuality on television. I don’t know how many of you watch teen television – but my PhD work deals with all kinds of teen representation, and I am repeatedly joyfully flabbergasted by how many teen shows are genuinely representing gay characters and the issues they face. Sorry the image is blurry – but it’s worthwhile to take a look at this slide show:

Beyond this list there is Santana on Glee and Emily on Pretty Little Liars and at this point I feel like there may even be others that have gone unnoticed by me – which I do not feel was the case when I was a teen watching TV. Please note: I am not saying that there are not issues with these representations – in many cases there are – but the mere idea of repeated representation of gay characters to the teen/tween audience underscores the idea that being gay exists, is normal and comes with issues like all other aspects of life in our prejudice/heteronormative world. Arguably representations that normalize homosexuality also work to eliminate homophobic hatred, don’t they?

In a world where teen suicide caused by fear of the exposure of one’s gayness is rising, teen tv gives me a little bit of hope. Well that and the It Gets Better Project.  Have you seen this? I cried: