Homophobes are always in the news, and their antics are becoming less tolerable by the minute. Over the last couple of years, the entertainment industry has been at the forefront of battling for equal rights and against homophobia. While TV shows do this through the creating more diverse characters, sometimes entertainment institutions and entertainers use their business savvy to put a halt to homophobia. Here is a short list of homophobes being held accountable for their actions.
Naya Rivera, actress behind Glee’s Santana Lopez, one of the most high profile lesbian characters on TV, is dating in a very public fashion, the misogynistic, (homophobic) rapper, Big Sean. (I can hear the groaning from here, but stick with me. This is important. Also please note, the focus here is Naya and how her actions are perceived and the much larger problem they represent.)
As is usually the case with an actor, especially actors who play LGBT characters, the actor behind favorite characters become just as special to the fans as the character themselves. Naya Rivera, because of Glee, has become one of these beloved actors, and she has, until now, returned the favor.
In interviews and the causes she supports, like GLAAD and the Trevor Project, has stated the importance of Santana’s role for the LGBT community and been incredibly supportive of the community. As a matter of fact, Naya’s popularity and career exploded once Santana began her journey to come out and love Brittany on Glee.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) administers a “Network Responsibility Survey”, which looks at, among other information, how the general public feels about the LGBT community. GLAAD then goes a step further and asks how many of those people’s opinions were influenced by LGBT characters they had seen on TV. Every time that question is asked, the majority of people answer that, indeed, LGBT characters have influenced their thoughts on the subject.
GLAAD, as an organization, bases its goals and projects on the truth and reality that TV shapes public opinion:
“What people see in the media has a huge impact on how they treat others, how they vote and their perceptions. GLAAD bring stories to national audiences and to local communities through the media that build understanding and acceptance. LGBT people are an important part of our culture. By showcasing the common ground we all share, GLAAD helps Americans embrace their gay and transgender family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors.”
Mia Kirshner, the actress behind Jenny Schecter on The L Word had the following to say in a recent interview with AfterEllen about lesbian and bisexual representation on network television:
“Yes, I’m still not comfortable with the portrayal of gay women on television, especially network television. We’ve still got a long way to go. Hopefully, it’ll change. Gay women are such a diverse community; there’s so much to explore, so many stories to tell. It doesn’t have to stop at coming out stories. Those are important, of course, but there’s so much more. And I think TV is really the only medium that infiltrates people’s homes, so seeing those portrayals of gay and bisexual women extinguishes all sorts of hate and ignorance toward gay people. I think TV has a duty to show these stories, these complicated and diverse stories.”
Thank you, Mia Kirshner!