The positive representation, of any minority group (e.g. LGBTQ+ people, women, or people with disabilities) is crucial, especially with the power that the media holds. But I don’t want to talk about negative topics such as queerbaiting, because I’ve already covered it. Instead, I want to talk about the positive impact and power of positive queer representation. I can’t speak for everyone, but I believe that the media (especially media forms such as films and TV shows) can provide a positive outlook on underrepresented groups within society – and this is even better if these stories are told within those groups.
First and foremost, finding positive representation can massively help with normalization. By normalizing LGBTQ+ content, it can help any queer or trans person feel OK with being ‘different.’ Not only can normalizing be a massive factor with positive representation, but it can also be used as an educational tool – I believe that education is the most important tool for a person’s activism (especially for someone who might be just be starting out).
But how do we positively represent the LGBTQ+ community? Well firstly, we have to avoid negative stereotypes and tropes surrounding – because while diversity has increased (and this is a positive in itself), many LGBTQ+ characters are still plagued with negative characteristics or storylines (especially queer female characters). For example, according to the Huffington Post, in 2016, at least 25 LGBTQ+ characters were killed off in TV shows – and the vast majority of them were either lesbian or bisexual female characters, and this only served the purpose of advancing the plot of a cishet male character. The plot can still be advanced WITHOUT these queer female characters dying, so this negative trope needs to go in order for genuine, positive representation to move forward.
In addition, if this continues, it’ll also do more harm than good – because, in order for representation to move forward, queer characters NEED to have more positive outcomes for their storylines, because if cishet people can have positive storylines with happy endings, then so do queer characters. This is especially crucial for questioning people because if they only see the negative outcomes, then it will only make the situation worse for them. So in order to combat these negative tropes in the media, we need to emphasize more positive outcomes and representation – especially in media aimed at children and young people.
Secondly, we need more LGBTQ+ stories told from actual LGBTQ+ people – this can have a powerful impact on how we view the queer community. If we allow members of the LGBTQ+ community to share their work, it’ll hopefully help people (both within the community and outside the community) to better understand each other’s experiences. It also allows space for people who are in more minority groups to share their experiences. So as a result, we are brought closer together – and that’s the whole point of ANY community, right?