Thursday, January 26, 2023

“Lesbian”: Erased in media

Arts and Culture“Lesbian": Erased in media

BY JORDANNA GARLAND
Staff Reporter




Sexism has always been a part of society, and it is sometimes present in communities that strive for inclusivity. The onset of the gay rights movement centered around gay men, leaving lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals on the outskirts. With this primary focus on gay men came the acronym GLBT. It wasn’t until the late 90s, after the AIDs crisis had calmed down, homosexual men began to acknowledge the contributions made by lesbians in efforts to help reduce the stigma of AIDs and HIV.

As a way to honor the lesbian community, gay men in the late 90s, began using the acronym LGBT instead of GLBT to give lesbians their recognition and as time went on, the acronym stuck. 

Today, recognition of lesbians remains bleak with media corporations like Netflix canceling shows featuring prominent lesbian leads. Shows such as Netflix’s “Everything Sucks!,” which features a romance between two women, was cut short, only completing one season. 

Sophomore Morgan Oliver, plant science major and member of the Lavender Programming Board, shared their feelings towards the cancellation of the show.

“I guess the biggest one that comes to mind for me is ‘Everything Sucks!’ because that was one of the first times that I had seen… one of the main characters was a young lesbian girl,” Oliver says. “That was one of the first times I had seen that type of character where I could relate to.”

Viewership ratings also do not seem to play a factor in the cancellations of these shows. It was announced on Aug. 2 that Netflix would not be renewing its lesbian, teen romance vampire show, “First Kill” for a second season. Garnering 30.3 million hours of viewing in the first three days of release before peaking at 48.8 million hours within the first week, “First Kill” had a fairly successful run in the trending section of Netflix, according to Deadline. Not only did “First Kill” have decent viewership ratings and lesbian represention, it also featured many Black characters as well. 

“First Kill” premiered on Netflix this past June but shortly before the airing of “First Kill,” another teen queer show produced by Netflix entered the scene. “Heartstopper,” which primarily focuses on the relationship between two teen boys, aired this past April and garnered 14.5 million viewing hours in its first three days of release, less than half of what “First Kill” managed to receive. Still, this past May, “Heartstopper” was not only renewed for just one season, but renewed for two more seasons. 

 “I feel like gay male relationships, obviously there’s still strifes but … I feel like they’re more widely accepted by media-consuming audiences,” Oliver says. “That’s the reason why a lot of lesbian shows are—they’re not getting the best writing, and people aren’t sticking around to watch them because there’s negative connotations there.”

Cancellations are not the only way that the media erases lesbians from the screen. The “Bury Your Gays” trope removed existing LGBT representation from television. Shows that use this trope feature LGBT characters that meet their demise because they are seen as more expendable than the heterosexual characters of the show. It promotes the false notion that LGBT relationships end in untimely death. Since March 31, 225 sapphic characters have died on screen since 1976.

“Thats one of my least favorites because when people watch that, especially younger kids, their precedent is that it can never flourish as an older queer person,” Oliver says. “I feel like queer kids need to be able to relax, and to enjoy themselves and not have this looming anxiety.”

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