I was recently talking to a friend about the rise in LGBTQ representation on television and how we were so excited about new TV shows being centered on characters that are a part of the LGBTQ community. I quoted my friend saying that it was going to be “the year of the rainbows!” With popular shows like “Orange Is The New Black”, “The Fosters”, and with new shows premiering this year, “Looking” on HBO and “Faking It” on MTV, it’s easy to see how LGBTQ characters are quickly coming to the forefront of major network television shows as main characters instead of background players.
At first, I felt resistance to agree with her. Yes, it’s looking like it should be a good year for the LGBTQ community in television, and I know she didn’t mean it in a constricting way, but why does it have to be just this year? Why can’t we have members of the LGBTQ community be as commonplace on television as their straight counterparts?
This goes for any minority not represented on television and in the media as much as they should be. For example: women, African-Americans, Latinos and Latinas, etc. Calling it, “the year of women”, or “the year of Latinos”, kind of makes it sound as if, in my opinion, after the year is over these groups are expected to once again take a back seat. The phrase “the year of…” could perhaps be giving viewers and consumers of television a way to marginalize minorities in entertainment without realizing it.
But it needs to be realized and actively pushed into mainstream content. The fact that it’s so rare for minority groups in this country to take the spotlight and to be respected is inherently wrong. Using minorities as a ploy for ratings is wrong. We need to learn how to celebrate everyone and everything every year instead of sporadically celebrating certain groups to make people more comfortable with situations and lifestyles they may not be comfortable with. We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.