On the 22nd of May Irish people will get a chance to decide on whether gay men and lesbian women will be able to marry in Ireland, ultimately changing the Irish constitutional stance on marriage. While this referendum has been a long time coming, it has also been the cause of much debate the last few months (yah… there is a debate about it… it’s not like it’s 2015 or anything…). But I am not here to talk about the referendum: Here are some links to more intellectual analysis on the referendum itself and busting the ridiculous myths the opposition are promoting against it. And that’s all I will say on that.
But I will admit this so-called debate got me thinking, first, what is the hesitation around passing this piece of legislation, and second, why isn’t it an issue for me at all?
It made me really think, where did I begin to learn and have my first understanding about the LGBT community in general? It wasn’t discussed amongst friends or family when I was younger. It definitely wasn’t mentioned in primary and if it were mentioned in secondary it was not taught (I hope things have changed but from recent stories… I don’t know if they have). I mean, it wasn’t until university that I came across the phrase ‘LGBT’ and there that I witnessed lesbian and gay relationships out in the open. While this was an entirely new world to me, it didn’t shock me and I can think of only one possible reason. Well two, firstly because love is love, and doesn’t matter if you are attracted to someone of the same gender, as long as you are both happy, no one should judge another person on the premise of their sexuality. And the second reason? Television.
Shock-horror! Isn’t television such a terrible influence? Well that may be true (in some cases), but it’s sometimes through the medium of television that we can really start to engage with and have real discussion about the many issues in our society. I feel it was through television, that I began to have a greater understanding of how difficult it can be for someone to discover their personal sexuality, but also to be discriminated as a result of it. It also showed me how love is not linear. It’s complicated, messy and not all fairytales and happy endings. It showed how sometimes you can’t help who you fall in love with, even if that person is of the same sex. I experienced couples of all these varieties via my favourite fictional programmes. This was hugely important because of the fantastic influences they had on my world view.
But while these had great influences on me, I also recognise the importance of having a lesbian, bi, gay and/or transgender character not only for representation, but for self-identification. One example would be Korrasami being confirmed canon in the Legend of Korra. This example accurately portrays just how important representation was to their fanbase. It wasn’t just the first confirmed gay couple in animation, but for fans who identified with them, especially with their sexual orientation, it was a big moment. This is one of many examples that prove just how important LGBT representation is on television, and is definitely not something to be dismissed. I’ve put together just a few of my favourite programmes, that in my opinion did a great job of LGBT representation, and I’ll be releasing a number of them over the next few days and weeks.
I’m starting with Sex and the City with more to follow over the upcoming days.
*You know spoilers for the below shows if you haven’t seen them yet but you really should!*
Sex and The City
This is still one of my favourite all time shows, but I won’t deny that it has many faults. But let’s remember this show was set over ten years ago, and a lot of progress has been made regards LGBT representation, better discussions on relationships and feminism in general.
But Sex and the City definitely set the ball rolling, and the ladies looked fabulous whilst doing so. But for me anyway it was my first introduction to one of the most iconic gay characters on television; Stanford Blatch, whom Carrie affectionately called “Stannie”. For ages, he was a secondary character and a listening ear to Carrie’s many relationship dramas, and queries about men’s behaviour in general. But around season 3 he got a romantic interest of his own .
While Stannie had no problem showing off his man candy, Marcus Adente, his relationship with Marcus was still a sweet one. I think as much as I loved Stanford for his witty one-liners, I loved how he called Carrie out when she didn’t give any interest to his new relationship, despite him listening countless times to all of her romantic dramas. As he put it he’s been a “very good audience” but it’s his turn now.
That scene showed that he’s more than the sassy gay sidekick, he, like the other four ladies was searching for love in the craziness that is New York City.
(Randomly enough he ended up married to Charlotte’s friend, Anthony Marentino. I always thought it was random, considering how much they hated each other throughout the series, but I grew to love it by the second film, even with the ridiculous wedding).
Stay tuned for my next post on LGBT representation and further ramblings on this topic.