This Is Why Queer Representation On Television Matters

written by Ailisha O'Regan 

People find different ways to navigate their LGBTTQQIAAP experience. They find different ways to cope and they find different role models that they can look up to.  I, personally, found mine in television. I found them in the characters that represented me. The characters that proved, to me anyway, that no door was closed to me, not just yet.

 As I was growing up there was very little LGBTTQQIAAP representation in television, there was some more in film but film could only tell so much of a story TV gave more time to explore. The roles that did exist were label as “ground-breaking” however these small few roles were very important to me. Some of them showed that your sexual orientation would not limit your career nor define you.

When I figure out, I was bisexual the first thing that came into my head wasn’t the natural oh god panic that many go through. It was ‘if my future bosses find out I like girls it will limit how much I can further my career’. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to advance in my chosen field because people wouldn’t want me to have a large role. Understandable at the time. However, one day I was watching TV and I realised there was plenty of LGBTQ people doing all the jobs I dreamed of and they weren’t hiding anything. The real eye opener for me personally was when I was watching Grey’s Anatomy and they introduced Callie’s bisexual storyline. This was a surgeon top of her field facing little to no backlash, proving to me that I could be a surgeon, a lawyer or a chef and that my sexuality wouldn’t hinder it as long as I was good at my job.

My friend had a similar experience, I found out later, when he was watched “Will and Grace” and through the character of Will realised that even if he was gay, he could be a lawyer if he so wanted.
Many will say it’s that just television its not real life, but sometimes, with a lack of role model, it’s easier to identify with tv. These roles may have not been completely accurate but they were a start. They allowed people our age to dream. It was the beginning of actual people coming forward and allowing for real role models. While the world was still adjusting its tolerance and acceptance it moved at least 3 times the speed as before.

In 2018 there was a sharp increase of LGBTTQQIAAP representation in television, especially those of colour, mirroring the growing acceptance across the globe during the same time. I hope that these characters offer the same small sense of comfort that they offered me when I was young. Even with more role models that they can really look at it, with many more yet to come.  I hope that these roles show that you can do and be whatever you want no matter who you love or who you are.

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