In a very delayed response to GLAAD’s media ratings, the Christian Post today complained that there are “too many” gay characters on TV, stopping just short of using the word “brainwashing” to describe the impact it has on the American public:
Conservative bloggers and religious leaders say unfortunately, many Americans are willing to allow Hollywood to manipulate their family’s perspective on the world.
Those who oppose same-sex marriage say there is a well-financed and detailed plan at work to change Americans’ opinions about homosexual and lesbian lifestyles through television programming.
Most of the CP article can be dismissed because none of it offers any context for the experience of LGBT people. In fact, it tries to claim there is a “lack of accurate, portrayal[s] of Bible-believing characters on television or in the movies.” For some reason, they are concerned that the recasting of “the homosexual lifestyle as normal and exciting” is somehow a bad thing. Do they think all gay people abnormally humdrum? (Some people think gay people are pretty fabulous.) And LGBT people are everywhere — cutting across all demographics — so why shouldn’t they be everywhere in television? That there have been so many television shows and movies completely erasing the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is not only unrealistic, but incredibly damaging.
The article ends on a tangent with research about how watching television can be unhealthy for kids, but makes no mention of how homophobia and transphobia are endangering their lives. The reality of the situation is that positive portrayals of LGBT people in the media are helping to save lives. The most obvious example is the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying project, through which young people can find celebrities, star athletes, politicians, and other role models who affirm the identities they might be questioning. What the Christian Post sees as political indoctrination is actually social medicine.
Research shows that over the same period of time that media portrayals of LGBT people has increased, there has been a steady decline in the frequency of homophobic remarks, harassment, and assault that LGBT young people have experienced in school. Furthermore, “desensitizing” family members increases the long-term health projections for LGBT youth, because studies show that the more a family rejects an LGBT child, the higher that child’s risk for suicide attempt and drug use.
Religious conservatives can continue to complain that support for their political issues like marriage discrimination is declining, but to suggest that it’s not good for kids? That’s just plain wrong.