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LGBT representation in movies and series - past and present

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by IneInLP, Feb 10, 2021.

  1. IneInLP

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    Now that I came to terms with my newly discovered sexuality, I have been researching shows, movies and books with LGBT characters and I was surprised to find so many strong, leading female characters that are bi or lesbian or just do not define themselves. I am not talking about shows like 'The L-world' which existed in my youth but was only available very late at night (I think) and most probably was censored.

    I'm 41, grew up in a small town where you were not told or taught you could be different. I have never thought of my town as homophobic, I guess it was just a topic that was not discussed and that was the end of it. Internet was non existing when I grew up, and for sure the only home entertainment apart from books, was TV (and growing up as a teenager I had restricted access to it) or cinema. I can't remember of any single, strong, female, lesbian character back then. I do remember a few movies/series with one or more gay characters (mostly males), but can't think of one single show or movie with a lesbian hero, or where a lesbian woman was pictured as normal as anyone else. I know there were a few because I discovered them recently, but I am not sure I had access to them to them.

    During my recent search, I came up with a variety of examples of lesbian, main characters in all sorts of shows and movies for all ages and tastes. And also some good examples of how 'being different' is not different at all, where not being hetero is absolutely normal and doesn't raise questions. And this got me thinking, had I had access to all this 20 years ago, probably I would have found out about myself earlier and I would have been able to accept me as I am earlier.

    Does anyone else feel the same way?

    I mean, I know that we are not there yet with diversity represented properly in movies, series and books but I feel that compared to when I grew up there was a major step forward, still many steps to go of course but at least I have the impression that things are moving. And I am just puzzled, and positively surprised by some young women and young people in general, being so ok with who they are and finding the right words to define themselves (which includes sometimes not defining themselves at all, so liberating..,). In all this messy situation we are living and with all the ups and downs we go through as human race, I dare feeling optimistic about the future...is it wrong?
     
  2. QuietPeace

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    Not for me. My orientation was not something that I worried about and dating was not a thing for me until I was an adult. My issue was my gender identity and I knew that I was female despite being AMAB from very early and I know that I did not see anyone representing transition. I am nearly 60, when I was young it was all shown as clowns and freaks or criminals. I still knew who I was, I did not need the representation. My ability then to date across the spectrum I think was an outgrowth of already fighting family, church and society. It might very well be different for someone who has no problem living within their birth assignment and who is fighting society only on who they are allowed to date etc.

    Sadly I worry about the pendulum. Things were far easier for people who transitioned even in the 70s than it is now. There was one woman who waged a campaign of hate against any gender differences and she succeeded amazingly well. Society is only barely swinging the pendulum back to where it was in the 60s for us. Things do seem to have gone further for those with just orientation differences but even with that the pendulum swings back and forth. I am afraid that it might be time for the swing to go against all LGBT+ people. I hope that I am wrong in that.
     
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  3. Really

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    @IneInLP

    I think you’re right but I think it would have taken more self-awareness than I had back then. I swear I watched the L-Word all the way through and STILL never once thought it meant anything! It wasn’t until quite a bit later that I was watching a much more mainstream show that I started to wonder if other women got the same feelings seeing a lesbian relationship on tv. Was it just the chemistry between the actresses or was it me? Kind of hard to ask around but it definitely started me thinking.

    So, yes. I think you’re right but it helps if you aren’t as slow as i am. :]
     
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  4. BiBoyToy

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    I'm not sure if this answers your specific question regarding LGBT representation in movies and series, but I do believe exposure and experiences play a large role in which age people question their sexual orientation or gender identity. As for my own experience, I had a consensual same sex experience with my bestfriend in middle school and developed strong feelings for him. If it wasn't for this experience, I don't think I would of started questioning my sexual orientation and realized I'm bisexual so early on. Perhaps I still wouldn't have (I'm currently in my early twenties.)
     
    #4 BiBoyToy, Feb 11, 2021
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  5. IneInLP

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    I sort of had the same experience, it is something that made me wonder about myself but only very recently...pretty slow too I guess :)

    I understand your point, and you are totally right. I guess thinking of me as a teenager, growing up with 'presumably' all straight friends, and not having any other examples from TV, I had no exposure at all until much much later, so even if I had had doubts (which now I think I had, I only just suppressed the feeling), I probably wouldn't have known how to address them and probably I would have been just scared to death to address them...if this makes sense.
     
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  6. dirtyshirt84

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    I think you are right, but I also think that media reflects society and society has changed so much in the last 20 years. I’m about the same age as you and also grew up in a small town, being bi or gay was not something I even realised was an option growing up.

    I had an experience similar to BiBoyToy, and had a relationship with a women when I was at University. If I hadn’t met her, it might have been a long time before I realised I was attracted to women. I think if there was the media representation there is now and resources like this it would have been a lot easier to accept.

    I definitely think it’s not such a big deal for the younger generation. I think there is a presumption that everyone is ok with with LGBT people where as when I was growing up almost the opposite was true. I think it’s definitely possible to be optimistic about the future. But I guess rights are not a given and all the progress could be undone or put in reverse with people like Trump still around.
     
  7. K80outloud

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    Thanks for starting this conversation, InelnLP! I'm 45 and only recently have discovered just how important representation in media is. Came out to my husband six years ago, but with the vast amounts of time at home in this pandemic, I've finally come to terms with being gay and started looking for the movies and shows too. The good ones (where the lesbian doesn't die or isn't shunned at the end) let me feel normal! I don't have to do mental gymnastics like I do when I see hetero love scenes. It's just... comfortable. Representation matters a great deal to me.

    Growing up, if you were thought of as gay (I don't remember ANYONE being out!), you faced constant threat of bullying, being beat up or worse. I think positive representation would've mattered, for sure. Then again, it was a different time. I have a 14 year old and 18 year old. I look at them and their friends... how open everyone is, comparatively. It's so settling to see. If we had had the representation when I was young, I don't think I would've denied and hidden my thoughts and feelings the way I did. That best friend junior year? Yeah, we probably would've dated. :slight_smile:
     
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  8. IneInLP

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    Thanks @K80outloud ! I think you summarized pretty much how I feel...and not that we are anywhere near perfection, but some steps in the right directions have been made....my perception at least, considering that my baseline is very/relatively recent.

    I do remember that best friend too :grin:

    Thanks for your answer!
     
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  9. OGS

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    I remember how important it was for me when I came out almost thirty years ago. Finding that were so many wonderful novels and movies and plays about this new life on which I was embarking was amazing!
     
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