Why even “woke” stereotypes in media hurt LGBTQ+ people 

By: Quentin Miller

LGBTQ+ representation in media is currently better and more progressive than it ever has been before, but does that mean it’s any good yet?

In my opinion, no. Most LGBTQ+ stories can fall into three main stereotypes, all of which I will cover in this article.

1. The closeted romantic partner 

This overused plot (normally set in a Christmas, or other holiday, setting) normally revolves around a gay couple, almost always lesbians, who are in the situation where one of them isn’t out to their family, but they have to bring their partner home.

As I’m sure you can imagine, this trope is tiring for many reasons. There’s the first reason which is coming out to your family isn’t a comedy, it’s a very real experience for many people and it’s almost never handled well in these movies, where the closeted character is either outed or caught in the act for cheap laughs or drama.

And my main other problem with it, is the implication that being in the closet makes you a hinderance to your partner, as normally the partner who’s gay openly is very annoyed at their closeted partner. All this does is portray openly gay people as angry and unreasonable and forces closeted people to feel pressured into coming out.

2. Literally just gay people suffering

This one is very self explanatory. Any film that is just a story, normally adapted from real life, but now written by a straight man, where a gay man suffers intensely because he is gay.

I don’t think I need to explain why this can be harmful if overdone. While obviously these stories are important to tell, it’s less meaningful and much more creepy when directed/written by straight people.

Another factor of weirdness is added when instead of society holding them down, it’s themselves holding them down.

Think any story centered around a hyper sexual gay man who catches a lethal STD, or a lesbian who ruins her life because she got caught sleeping with another women, or the gay man who’s in a toxic relationship with another gay man who’s really just a negative stereotype.

3. I don’t hate you because you’re gay

This one is a bit more out there but it’s any movie where instead of people not liking a character because they are gay, it is because of some other arbitrary reason that is a stand in for them being gay.

Think ‘Love Simon,’ where the main character is abandoned not because he is gay, but because him coming out as gay is causing drama and makes him a toxic manipulator.

These movies do nothing but gaslight people who experience homophobia in their real lives, instead of just telling a story of a gay person experiencing oppression in an insightful way, straight directors will opt to just give the gay person a bunch of made up negative traits so everyone leaving them is justified.

Now, obviously there are exceptions to these categories, and some movies that fall into these categories are actually really good. Many of those “the real story” type movies, like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or ‘Rocket Man’, are great examples of the second category. But the fact that movies like that are the exception and not the standard is highly damaging to queer people who just want proper storytelling about their experiences. 

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