The portrayal of LGBTQ characters

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by TarkatanDentist, May 13, 2012.

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  1. In recent times the debate over same-sex marriage has flared up once again. Now, in my time I’ve done a lot of thinking about LGBTQ matters, including, among other things, how LGBTQ people are often portrayed in the media and, needless to say, there are many gripes that I have in that regard, especially when it comes to the portrayal of transgendered people.

    The main ones:
    1) The over-simplification of the ‘transition’ process. As a general rule, unless the film/book/program in question specifically revolves around a transgendered character realising their true gender, and the steps that follow in order to be accepted by society, there is a tendency for works featuring a transgendered character to grossly over-simplify ‘transition’, almost always by focusing primarily or exclusively on genital reassignment surgery (what most would call a ‘sex change operation’). Hence why questions like ‘is she pre-op or post-op?’ are likely to appear.

    In other words, there is no real ‘transition’ shown, so to speak. Never mind how long it takes real-life transgendered people to accept themselves, and eventually come out to others about how they feel. Never mind that they then have to go through months of therapy before being allowed to begin hormone treatment, with the hormones themselves taking several years to come into full effect (in simplistic terms, imagine going through a second puberty). Never mind that they then have to prove they can live and function in society as their true gender for at least a year (or longer depending on which country we’re talking about) before then being put on a waiting list for the operation itself. Nope, in magical TV-land, Paul can walk into the surgery, and a few hours later he comes out as Pauline, complete with boobs, a more ‘lady-like’ figure and a feminine voice.

    In fact, not all transgendered people in the real world even want to undergo a ‘sex change’ operation - many choose not to, happy to express their gender without the need to change their genitals in the process. And even if they do want to, many of them cannot due to any number of reasons (e.g. not having enough money). Ultimately, putting such a huge focus on what is ultimately just ONE part of the transition process devalues the transition process as a whole, and can lead to those who haven’t had the operation as not being considered ‘real’ men or women.

    Oh, and you can absolutely forget about non-binary transgendered people being portrayed at all. Gender in TV-land is strictly limited to ‘man’ and ‘woman’.

    2) On the subject of transgendered people, it’s interesting to note that the vast majority of transsexuals shown in media are trans women – trans men rarely seem to get much of a look-in. In some cultures, where women are effectively treated as second-class citizens, this is because the idea of someone born male wanting to be recognised as a woman seems ridiculous, whereas someone born female wanting to be recognised as a man is seen as trying to acquire ‘male privilege’ for themselves, and dealt with accordingly.

    Even in more tolerant countries (that said, there are FAR too many cases of sexism against both men AND women everywhere in the world, but that discussion is for another time…), males who identify as women are seen as more ‘shocking’ with regards to cultural and societal norms. It’s far too common to hear people deride trans women as ‘men who wear dresses’, once again ignoring the many other aspects to transitioning. After all, society may have accepted women wearing what was traditionally seen as ‘men’s clothing’, but god forbid if a man decides to wear a dress or a skirt. This gives off the impression that the number of trans women is much higher than the number of trans men, when in reality there is no statistically significant difference between them.

    This is not just limited to transgendered people. In a similar fashion, gay men receive considerably more media coverage than lesbians do. Much more scientific research has been done into the nature of male homosexuality than female homosexuality. This in itself relates to how women in general are portrayed as compared to men, but as I’ve said before, that discussion is best had at a later date…

    3) In recent times, there have been more same-sex couples portrayed in media. This is great, of course, but there seem to be many double standards with relation to how they’re portrayed compared to opposite-sex couples. For a start, there never really seem to, well, do anything you’d expect a couple to do (on-screen, at any rate). The occasional kiss or romantic date will rarely be shown or even mentioned, and at worst they won’t even so much as hold hands. In effect, they end up looking more like two good friends rather than a romantic couple. Remember kids – it’s OK to be a gay couple in TV-land just so long as they don’t act like a couple.

    N.B. The above only applies if the couple in question consists of two men. If it’s two women then the above rules get completely chucked out of the window. After all, a very large portion of media is written by heterosexual men, and girl-on-girl is hot, right? Never mind that you’re denigrating the women in question into meaningless sex objects with that statement. In effect, what happens is that whoever wrote the show/film/book etc. is perfectly comfortable with writing about two women being intimate, but is deeply uncomfortable with writing about two men being intimate – what if viewers start calling their sexuality into question? How could they bear such a scandal?

    In fact, that’s exactly why there’s so much lesbian porn out there – because there are guys out there who are genuinely so insecure about their sexuality that the idea of being aroused by a man fucking a woman terrifying. “Oh no, what if I’m not going aroused by her vagina – what if I’m actually getting off to his dick?!”

    4) This point ultimately applies to minority groups in general, not just LGBTQ people. Essentially, if one ‘token’ character is included in the main cast (said person may be the only female main character, or they might be of a certain racial group, but in this instance I’ll be talking about LGBTQ characters), there is a considerable tendency for said character to be overwhelmingly talented and have next to no real flaws. Such a character will always be right, and will hardly ever do any wrong. Hopefully not quite to Mary Sue extremes, but having a character, any character, who is too perfect just doesn’t seem right.

    One key rule of any form of media is that balanced characters need valid flaws. And not trivial stuff like “is a terrible singer” which will rarely if ever have any impact on the storyline. Actual flaws – be that stubbornness, shyness, inflated ego, being slightly dim-witted etc. By portraying a minority character as being ‘above’ these flaws, a different sort of prejudice altogether is being encouraged. Since they don’t have ‘human’ flaws and inadequacies, how can they be said to be able to reflect upon real people who are members of said minority group? People may begin to resent the character, not because of the minority group they are a part of, but simply because said character is NOT well-balanced.

    This particular one, as well-intentioned as it is, ultimately does no minority group (and in particular the LGBTQ community) any favours.

    5) OK, this one in particular really, really bugs me – where are all the bisexuals? Seriously – when it comes to soap operas or any other sort of drama, it seems that if someone has previously dated people of the opposite gender, and is now shown as being attracted to the same gender, they will lose their attraction to the opposite gender completely and fully embrace their ‘gay’ identity. In TV-land, apparently sexuality is a binary – you’re either straight or you’re gay. Period.

    Assuming a show DOES feature a bisexual character, said character is disproportionately represented as being sex-crazy and willing to do anyone, whilst remaining completely incapable of holding down a monogamous relationship. Of course, there is a tendency for gay men to be portrayed in this way as well, but it’s especially the case for bisexual characters. This is roughly equivalent to saying that if a heterosexual man is attracted to both blonde and brunette women, he is incapable of holding down a monogamous relationship with a brunette woman. Being attracted to both genders does NOT mean that someone will be attracted to EVERYONE from both genders/ Of course, promiscuous bisexual people DO exist in the real world – so do promiscuous heterosexual and homosexual people.

    6) But when all is said and done, what many people fail to realise is that people who are LGBTQ vary just as much with regards to personality, interests, lifestyle etc. as heterosexual people do. And while there are certainly more LGBTQ people being represented now than there were even ten years ago, there’s one key problem that continues to persist and is unfortunately likely to continue: if a show/film/book includes a protagonist that is gay, for example, you can be 99% sure that the plot will revolve around their sexuality, or at the very least it will be a major plot point.

    The same applies to transgendered characters – if they’re a major character, there will almost always be a huge focus on how they live as their ‘new’ gender, how people react etc. And of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There have been many excellent works with regards to someone’s transitioning, or coming to terms with their sexuality and finding happiness, but if these are the ONLY works featuring LGBTQ protagonists that get made, it gives off the impression of gay/bisexual characters being defined ONLY by their sexuality, or transgendered characters being defined ONLY by their gender.

    Why would it be so difficult for, say, a cheesy rom-com to feature a trans woman and her boyfriend, or for an action-packed adventure movie to feature a female protagonist who just so happens to be a lesbian, or for a children’s movie to star a teacher who wants to stop the school from being closed down, a teacher who just so happens to swing both ways? Why must their sexuality or gender identity always play a huge part of the film they appear in?

    At the end of the day, LGBTQ people are people just like anyone else. They have hobbies and interests just like anyone else. They have emotions like anyone else. They want to be happy, just like anyone else. It’s just that they’ve had to contemplate their own identity whilst growing up a lot more on average than cisgendered and heterosexual people do.

    There are many, many, many more things I could say here, but I think I’d better stop now. Overall, if same-sex marriage is legalised (and in the case of the UK at least, they’ve already said that they plan to have it legalised by 2015), that would be an excellent step in the right direction, but there is still a long, long way to go if we want to get away from the heteronormativity that pervades every aspect of society.
  2. EGP Wonder_Chef

    EGP Wonder_Chef Official Quan Chi Nerf Demander™
    Official ESL Gaming

    This thread is gay.

    Seriously though that is a fuckton of points.

    Excellent post though.
  3. REO

    REO Undead
    Premium Supporter

    Really great read. Sometimes I find it hard to believe there are people with this level of intelligence in today's world.
  4. miloPKL


    id suck poisons cock
  5. When all is said and done, the number of explicit and outspoken homophobes is actually pretty low. The vast majority of homophobic people are those who have been 'bullied' into it, so to speak. A lot of those people probably don't even realise that they're being homophobic, and those are the people who have the best chance of being educated and consequently more tolerant of LGBTQ people.

    With regards to transphobia, that's much harder to deal with. After all, if someone's spent 40 years or more of their life believing that there are only two genders (often with implicit prejudices against both sides), to suddenly be told that it's not that simple is unlikely to sit well...
    Doctor Angel likes this.
  6. Doctor Angel

    Doctor Angel Founder Of The Advent Kombat Alliance.
    Premium Supporter

    This is a HELL of a post, Dentist. Well fucking done.

    The one thing this brings to mind...I used to watch ABC soaps with my mom religiously (that's right, laugh, I don't give a fuck, they were amazing back in the day), and I remember when they did the angle on "All My Children" over Bianca being a lesbian/the kissing scene with Lena/Elena/whatever that tall European lady's name was, people were going BATSHIT. It was taboo as all hell as the gay subject as a whole had never been touched before in such a big way/so thoroughly in-depth on a daytime soap as they did when Bianca came out, and a lot of people weren't happy about it, but y'know what? It made for some great TV, great storylines, and over time, everyone calmed down and it gradually turned into regular fare.
  7. DownfouralitY

    DownfouralitY buff erron
    Premium Supporter

    Awesome read. I agree, by the way.
  8. AREZ God of War

    AREZ God of War The Crazy BeastMaster

    I don't have a problem w/ gay people, I respect their decision and courage for standing behind their belief and lifestyle and i have some cool-ass friends who are gay. HOWEVER, I think bisexual people are greedy and can't be satisfied w/ one partner so it's wrong - and that's the bottom-line. You can try to justify it all you want, but the fact of the matter is that polygamy is just dirty, skanky and a selfish indulgence of greed....regardless if their significant-other is the same way and perfectly content with it, it's still a dirty practice of high-risk sexual behavior.

    Transsexuals and cross-overs have serious fucking mental issues and I feel BAD for the shit they put their families and loved one through. The exception is if you were actually BORN that way. God/Evolution made you what you are - if you weren't meant to be what you are, you wouldn't BE what you were born as. Also, imagine if you were tricked into thinking a transsexual was a woman and you were a guy (see where I'm going with this?).......Would still feel it was ok for them to do it and fair and acceptable to people of single sex who lead normal lives? Dude, I would beat the SHIT out of someone for doing something like that to me!!!! I have even seen GAY/BI people speak on how absolutely disgusting and repulsive transsexuals/hermaphrodites are and you'd THINK that would be their dream come TRUE cuz they have both sex's genitalia, but apparently it's not.

    None of t makes much sense to me, tbh and I don't understand why a BI person is repulsed by a transsexual considering they like both dick and pussy, but at the same time I can see clear as DAY why it repulses them for obvious reasons. You can take this post how you want....offensive or enlightening, but the fact of the matter is I see things for what they are and no matter how much manipulation goes on, nothing will deter me from seeing the truth of it all and knowing when to give a proper diagnoses to someone that may require hospitalization for mental disorders.

    If you don't like my post, don't read it OR don't make stupid threads like this in the 1st place. People are going to respond how they feel - it's a public internet forum.
    SunnyD likes this.
  9. rev0lver

    rev0lver Come On Die Young
    Premium Supporter

    Great post. I really agree with the lesbian issue, it's always so sexualized.

    Honestly, I really hate that gay character from Glee. It really bothers me that shows attempting to be tolerant create a character who's a big walking stereotype. It's really not all that different than having a token black guy being a gangster crack fiend. Some shows get it right though. My favorite gay character ever on TV has to be Maxxie from Skins. He was really inspirational for me, and though he had kinda a "gay" look, they didn't make that issue central to his character or behavior.
    Espio872 likes this.
  10. rev0lver

    rev0lver Come On Die Young
    Premium Supporter

    AREZ God of War , this is the kind of time when I really wish TYM had a dislike button. Seriously, you are wrong on so many levels and that kind of mentality is sickening to still see today.
  11. Doctor Angel

    Doctor Angel Founder Of The Advent Kombat Alliance.
    Premium Supporter

    Pryor Walter. "Angels In America."

    Best thing HBO's ever done, save maybe "The Sopranos."
  12. First, I just want to note that I'm not attacking you personally, or degrading you, I am just going to reply to this kindly.
    Being bisexual means you are sexually aroused and emotionally attached to both genders, you like both.
    Having multiple partners, and not being satisfied is called being a slut. Sluts are not just bisexual, there are straight sluts, bisexual sluts, gay sluts, etc.
    There are straight men and women who are not pleased with one partner, and sleep with countless partners via parties, craigslist, clubs, etc.
    I have a bisexual friend who won't have sex until marriage, and that is her choice.

    I feel we should just love and accept everyone for who they are, because, differences exist in people, we should accept diversity.

    Oh and TarkatanDentist you have restored my faith in humanity a little.
  13. AREZ God of War

    AREZ God of War The Crazy BeastMaster

    If you quote my post, make sure you go into detail and support your claim. I don't buy into this whole "You're wrong and I don't have to explain why" theory people seem to have on the internet. You need to go into detail, support what you say w/ data concluded scientifically (but hopefully NOT from "experimentation" LOL) You need to do it the right way by including the "what, why, how, etc". If I say someone is wrong about something you can bet MONEY I have supporting claims to back up what i say, not just arbitrary references.

    THIS IS A GOOD POST (Revolver, take a lesson from Joe on how to quote and respond)

    I can not only understand, but also respect your statements. Perhaps there are a few cases of bisexuality that may be relatively "normal" by standard, per se, but for the majority of things, it's just people who do it to get attention, appear more attractive, rebel, or experiment.......

    ....I just don't agree that the whole orgy/group-sex/train-running/gangbang/etc thing is acceptable and i think it's a great way to share STDs and show the world just how gross they are.
  14. rev0lver

    rev0lver Come On Die Young
    Premium Supporter

    You talk about bisexuality as if it implies promiscuity... it does not. Bisexuality is nothing more than being physically attracted to both genders.

    For what reason is being transgendered inherently wrong? These are people who feel like a woman trapped in a man's body and vise versa. Why should they be forced to be something they feel they are not?

    Also, one of my favorite scenes of all time <3

    Mr. Mileena likes this.
  15. Yeah, but that occurs in any sexuality. Straight, bi, or gay.
    Condoms solve the problems for the most part, but if people take part in those actions, it all generally comes down to their conscious-self.
  16. AREZ God of War

    AREZ God of War The Crazy BeastMaster

    That's what I'm's not acceptable for anyone, IMO. It might differ if ur gay and u like dicks, but w/ a condom or not, would you really want to put your mouth on a girl's pussy that got banged by numerous dicks repeatedly one after another??? I sure as hell wouldn't and I wouldn't fuck her either if I used YOUR dick attatched to the end of a 10-foot pole with a THREE condoms on it.

    How about just accepting what you are and the way you were made to be. Hermaphroditic creatures are found all throughout numerous species in don't see them being ashamed of what they's actually an evolutionary success to ensure the reproduction of their species.
  17. Zyns

    Zyns Tries to run cancel - fireballs chest

    You only get one life, why should you be forced to spend it being someone you don't want to be? It's your life, you're not hurting anybody, live it how you want to.
  18. Somberness

    Somberness Lights
    Premium Supporter Top Kontributor

    Is this a lesson on how to be contradictory?
  19. AREZ God of War

    AREZ God of War The Crazy BeastMaster

    Science hasn't determined the purpose of it yet, however....suppose you're changing evolution by having man-made "work" done to alter your original state. They DO exist and ARE born that way but ISit intended or not? Is it a random fuck-up or is it something much more sinister destined to affect the entire survival of the human race 2,000 years from now? Can YOU give an answer to those questions? I doubt anyone can.

    WHAT did I JUST say about people quoting my posts and not addressing the things you are commenting on? Try again and do it RIGHT this time.
    SunnyD likes this.
  20. Polygamy and polyamory is an entirely different issue.

    The idea that all bisexual people are sex-crazy is one of the most insidious misconceptions levied against them. So I'll say it again - how promiscuous/non-promiscuous someone is has nothing whatsoever to do with their sexual orientation.

    Dude, seriously? Transsexuals are born that way. Many of them experience gender dysphoria almost as soon as they become properly self-aware (i.e. ages 4-5). Of course, their parents would have assumed it was 'just a phase', and then as time goes on the dysphoria only gets worse and worse. Did you know that almost half of transgendered people attempt suicide before age 20?

    Think about it - why would anyone in this world choose to be transsexual?

    Trans men and women are not 'pretending' to be men/women - they are men and women. They aren't tricking anyone.

    Do you honestly think that a trans woman would go through the incredibly long and painful process of transitioning solely so that they could 'trick' men? Really?

    (For the record, if I found out a woman I was dating was transgendered it would not bother me in the slightest)

    Hatred isn't good for you.

    'Hermaphrodites'? I think you mean intersex people, because to qualify as a 'hermaphrodite' someone would have to have fully functioning male and female genitalia. So far, no human has ever been a 'hermaphrodite'. At any rate, being intersex and being transgender are different issues (although intersex people can be transgendered if assigned the wrong gender at birth).

    Though you are unfortunately correct about transgendered people facing discrimination even from within the LGBTQ community itself. In fact, I feel that the disunity within the LGBTQ community is holding it back a lot, but that's another long discussion best had at another time...

    I'm... not quite sure what you're trying to say here, but you seem to be thinking of transsexual people solely with regards to them having sex with other people. Transsexual people have personalities and identities just like everyone else in the world. They're real people with real emotions and fears, but you don't seem to be respecting that.

    The reason I'm taking the time to write this response is because I think that, whilst much of what you've written is offensive, that you aren't a lost cause in that regard. I recommend educating yourself more on the many issues that transgendered people face, and on LGBTQ people in general. You say that you accept and respect gay people for who they are, so clearly you aren't blindly bigotted - perhaps some day you'll be able to respect bisexual, transgendered and intersex people in the same way.

    If there's even a tiny chance that what I've just typed makes you think about these issues a bit more, then I feel that this post will have been worthwhile. :)
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  21. SunnyD

    SunnyD 24 Low Hat!

    @AREZ God of War

    The problem with your argument is that you consistently state that somehow gay/lesbian/bi/transgender/whatever, somehow implies sexual promiscuity. This is not the case at all, and you have been told that. Example:

    You also argue strong "this is what nature intends" ideas. Look. Nobody, least of all human beings, and of all human beings, definitely not you, gets to determine what nature intends. Nature does. And you know what? Nature created a human being who is a dude, that likes dudes. Its not your say to determine whether or not its right. It a choice. It doesnt matter what you think of thier choice. Even if you think its a painfully, stupid, wrong, and abhorrent choice, YOU DONT GET A SAY. Its thier life, not yours. This is the kind of argument you get from ignorant, backward Southerners, who think thier idea of life should be applied to all. Everyone lives in a differnt world, everyone experiences life differently. Example:

    Altered genders doesnt change evolution. They are not INTENDED to think this or be that. They are intended to be human beings, and human beings can, and will, change who they are if they dont like something about themselves. What do you know of being sexually confused? What do you know, about being a womans mind in a man's body? NOTHING. For you have yet to experience it. Trust me when i say, i have talked to people who have gotten gender reassignment surgery, and they say that before, their life was total hell. To you, they are changing they're gender into something they want. To them they are changing thier gender into something they ARE. A man who wants to be a woman....thier mind inst a man's mind. Its a womans. Whether by hormone imbalances or choice. Its living torture and they are fixing the genetic error in thier plumbing. Example:

    Disagree all you want, but if you want to try and push a "comon, show me the flaws in my logic" kind of argument, by god me and others will damn well do it.
    Enenra likes this.
  22. AREZ God of War

    AREZ God of War The Crazy BeastMaster

    Those are all interesting OPINIONS.

    AGAIN....interesting OPINIONS.

    Interesting even MORE that you both seem to think it's ok to "Play God" and know whether or not what was intended. Don't play God and don't alter the natural state of things. You might as well just say it's ok to kill also.....same principle. How do you KNOW that wasn't what they were intended to be?
    SunnyD likes this.
  23. Doctor Angel

    Doctor Angel Founder Of The Advent Kombat Alliance.
    Premium Supporter

    AREZ God of War is definitely a good dude. Some folks just aren't comfortable with all of it.
    AREZ God of War likes this.
  24. AREZ God of War

    AREZ God of War The Crazy BeastMaster

    My thing is, I shared my opinion on the matter and they seem to want to CHANGE my opinion into their opinion rather than respecting my opinion for what it is. Isn't the purpose of this thread based on opinion and people attempting to get OTHERS to respect their opinion? How can you GET without GIVING?
    SunnyD likes this.
  25. x18x2xwildx

    x18x2xwildx Something wicked this way comes.

    Arguing sexuality is hard unless you're close to someone who's LGBT, or are LGBT yourself. Many people come to conclusions based just on what they've seen in the media and make it entirely too difficult to get through to them. My parents were that way until I came out to them, and now they see an entirely new side to gay people. It's sad that that's what it takes sometimes.
    TheChad_87 and Espio872 like this.
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