The BBC reports that gay and lesbian characters are not portayed well on television, and that it has cultural consequences:
Young people rarely see positive portrayals of lesbian and gay people on television, according to Stonewall.
A survey for the gay equality charity monitored more than 120 hours of programmes watched by the young. It said gay people were mainly portrayed as promiscuous, predatory, or figures of fun. Stonewall said homophobic bullying in schools was unsurprising when gay people were so often depicted on TV in a derogatory or demeaning way. The report, called Unseen on Screen, says ordinary gay people are almost invisible on the 20 programmes most watched by the young…
I’ve mentioned it on panels and previously on the blog, but I’m not sure I’ve been as explicit about the thought. I don’t want to harp on about it, or even sound sanctimonious, so this is probably the last time I’ll raise the subject.
So for those of you writing novels now – and I know there are plenty of you out there – do you contemplate about how you represent your minority characters and the effects that might have? Because I think writers do have some kind of collective responsibility not necessarily to write radically, but certainly not to help enforce bad stereotypes.
As seen above, people who create television programmes influence our culture. People who create any form of entertainment can do so. At a general or subconscious level, people will be influenced by what is written in a novel. The more we writers portray minorities (sexuality/race/gender) in a bad way, or even just a blind way, then the more we will slow down rates of tolerance and equality.
Is it as simple as I’m making out?
Edit: For further reading Paul C. Smith points to this great chat between Jeff VanderMeer and China Miéville where, about a third of the way down, the “Terror of anal penetration” is discussed.