The LGBTQ Community’s crusade for the right to be and to love hits another setback.
It’s 2017 and loving someone of your own gender is still a crime in most countries in the world. Even in moderately progressive democracies like India, same-sex marriages are still not legal. Despite the rise of Queer Pride Movements and discussions on platforms like Tumblr, homophobia is on the rise. It was one of the key features of Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign and yet he was elected as the President. There is so much prejudice against the LGBTQ community and this prejudice leads to a violation of their basic human rights.
What is the cause of this homophobia? It goes much deeper than religion. We, as human beings, fear the unknown, the different and the LGBTQ community celebrates being different leaving the general populace threatened. Thus, ignorance is the main reason for homophobia and the best way to deal with ignorance is knowledge. If homophobic people are constantly exposed to the LGBTQ community, it will help in letting go of their fear of the unknown. The best way to go about this is the representation of the community in media.
Believe it or not, representation has the power to drastically change perceptions.
Media plays an enormous role in shaping as well as altering perceptions. Representation of the minorities in mainstream media such as TV shows, movies, films and more will help in normalising the homosexuals. That is, after watching a gay or a lesbian character on the screen live a normal life will make the homophobes realise that gay people are just people at the end of the day. They fear, hate, mourn, care and love just like the rest of the human population. Believe it or not, representation has the power to drastically change perceptions.
TV shows and movies have come a long way from making gay jokes on Chandler Bing to actually incorporating characters like Chandler’s cross-dresser, gay dad. However barring a few television shows, the LGBTQ community barely gets represented on screen even in 2017. The little representation it does get is very stereotypical, like the gay sidekick or the manly lesbian clad in plaid. This is exactly why shows like Modern Family and Sense8 play a crucial role in showing the mundane side of the community.
Mitch and Cam are by far the cutest couple in Modern Family. They love each other; at times, they barely tolerate each other. They are wonderful parents to their adopted daughter, Lily. They have career trouble, mental health issues and leaky pipes. They are ordinary people like you and me.
Sense8 has not one but two homosexual couples and they have been portrayed as normal human beings who fear, fight and love. Through Lito, who is a Mexican action star, the series has shown the sheer courage it takes to come out to the world and to stay together in face of public backlash. Meanwhile Nomi Marks, a trans lesbian woman and a hacker, has to escape an institution where she has been admitted by her family. She has to escape forced surgery to re-transition her into a man. Vice-President, Mike Pence supports such institutions that offer ‘corrective measures’ for homosexuality. Through Sense8, people realise the trauma behind such horrifying measures.
With the cancellation of Sense8, Netflix is in the danger of alienating the entire LGBTQ community.
Representation is a powerful weapon in the fight against the homophobes (including President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence) for equal rights. With the cancellation of Sense8, Netflix is in the danger of alienating the entire LGBTQ community. While it might have its valid set of reasons for cancelling Sense8 but the fact that it won’t have a third season is heartbreaking. It will not be an exaggeration to call it a masterpiece, an incomplete masterpiece!
Homophobia is not a fear of the LGBTQ Community. It is just unjustified hatred directed towards a minority and it needs to come to an ultimate end. It is unacceptable that such a huge chunk of the population is denied their right to basic needs of companionship and love. As the fourth pillar of democracy, media has the power to tip the scales in favour of equality and justice, and as content creators, networks like Netflix are obligated to exercise this power. It is high time that people and governments realise that being queer is not a crime. We have to let go of our so-called ‘phobia’ and move towards a place of acceptance and love.
Author: Maitreyee Mhatre