Importance of LGBT Representation: Favourite LGBT TV characters and relationships series

Two days to go till this life changing referendum and if you’ve been in Dublin(or anywhere in Ireland) it’s getting pretty intense over here. I’ve reached the fourth post of this blog series, and as fun as it’s been to write  about some of my favourite LGBT characters, I think each case truly highlights the importance of LGBT representation  on television. This time I’m looking at  two of my favourites shows; Girls and The Carrie Diaries.

These last few days have been intense for sure

These last few days have been intense for sure

*You know spoilers for the below shows if you haven’t seen them yet but you really should!*

Girls

I don’t think I will ever be done praising this show. I am a massive fan of Lena Dunham in general, but she somehow manages to get me thinking after every episode. Despite all of the drama and issues the show brings to attention, I am still able to laugh.  And since starting this post an episode has aired which changes everything about what I was going to write about the show. I was going to discuss Eljiah who came out to Hannah in the first episode in a hilarious but honest way (spoilers if you are not caught up on Season 4), yet something more surprising and poignant has arisen; Hannah’s dad is gay.

Hannah and Elijah's relationship on the show is fantastic

Hannah and Elijah’s relationship on the show is fantastic

I sensed her father was depressed this season but I couldn’t pin point why, until he came out to his wife. The storyline was done in such a realistic way, but I also do love the titbit that I totally missed in season one, where Elijiah probably all too unintentionally, outed Hannah’s father.  But I have to say I am impressed with how Hannah is handling her father’s coming out (if you watch the show you are then aware Hannah isn’t always the most mature when it comes to well anything). Hannah accepts that this is not really about her, and that her parents have their own lives and as much as they are there for her, they are people with their own emotions, wishes and dreams, and sometimes they don’t necessarily involve her. I was quite proud of how this story reflected Hannah’s growth and despite the upheaval in her own life, she is trying her best to be supportive to both of her parents. Her dad, Tad, is struggling with his new identity and her mother, Lorena, is struggling with the fact that her marriage is over (well kind of, not sure there) and that her husband is gay. But of course Hannah has her limits and does draw the line on Elijiah on calling her dad a “daddy”. But considering everything that is going on in her personal life and that is big growth on her part.

Tad finally makes the decision to come out to Lorena

Tad finally makes the decision to come out to Lorena

Honourable mentions for Girls: Sexuality is fluid on this show, that’s for sure. I feel it does good job of exploring of how confusing sex in general can be for young people. It doesn’t shy away from the realities of sex and never romanticises it. What I love is there are no lines drawn on labels when it comes to sex. Elijiah comes out in season one and is a relationship in season 2, however this doesn’t stop him from almost having sex with Marnie. While it didn’t go forth, the attraction was there, it showed that while Elijiah was comfortable with being gay he was still a little confused about his sexual orientation in some senses.

Jessa and Marnie did not get a long at the start of the series but....

Jessa and Marnie did not get a long at the start of the series but….

Jessa is as liberal as they come when it comes to sex, and while it’s never been addressed, it could be argued that she’s bisexual? In season one she willingly wanted to have a threesome with Marnie and her future husband, but let’s face it, she was more interested in Marnie that time. In season three Jessa has oral sex with Laura(another person attending rehab with Jessa) and calls it “charity”.  Jessa’s sexuality is never addressed on the show, but to be honest that’s what I love about it, it’s not made a big deal of and why should it be?

The Carrie Diaries

Am I still bitter that this show was cut ahead of its time? Of course. While everyone was obsessed on whether Carrie would end up with Sebastian or Adam or whatever guy was on the show, the only relationship that was my main concern was Walt and Bennett. The show was set in the 80’s and even though it probably is not the most accurate portrayal of that era, we see, through Walt, the difficulties of being gay at that time. In areas like New York had seemingly more liberal attitudes towards the gay community, however in areas such as Connecticut where Walt lived and went to school; they were not so much. In the first season, it is evident that Walt is attracted to guys but his fear of this and fear of the possible homophobic attitudes causes him to keep up a pretence of having a relationship with Maggie.

Walt struggled a great deal with his sexual identity

Walt struggled a great deal with his sexual identity

Both Walt and Maggie are unhappy in their relationship, but Maggie can’t figure out why, while Walt tries to suppress the truth. It is only when he arrives in New York, where he sees the gay community more out in the open, that he finally finds way of identifying of what’s going on with him. It is through this he meets Bennett, Carrie’s friend from her internship and finally feels able to be more open about his sexuality. He eventually comes out, where Maggie finds out the truth and needless to say reacts in an immature way, and outs him to the whole school calling him a “fag” in the process.

Season 2 is my favourite because it really shows it’s strength’s when it comes to their main characters. In comparison to season 1, Walt is more open about his sexuality and finds solace in New York and eventually pursues a relationship with Bennett. But I think I enjoyed this season so much because it really portrays how difficult this transition is for Walt and how everything changes as a result, good and bad. The Carrie Diaries can be a bit ridiculous 80’s plot points but it  does reflect wonderfully how much the people in Walt’s life start to treat him differently as soon as he comes out, his friends, colleagues and even his own family. His parents spot a picture of Walt and Bennet kissing in a magazine and kick him out as a result.

Carrie was a shoulder of support during

Carrie was a shoulder of support when Walt discovered there could be a chance he was infected with AIDs

The show also dealt with the AIDs crisis back in the 80s and how that affected Walt and the gay community in general. One of Bennet’s ex-boyfriends was dying of AIDs and there was a high chance that he and Walt could have of contracted the disease as a result. Fortunately neither did, but this understandably became too much for Walt and he ended his relationship with Bennett and moved back in with his parents, promising not to pursue anymore relationships with men. This is heartbreaking to watch because not only do Wennet (Walt and Bennet) make an adorable couple, it expresses just how frightening it can be for someone to come out as gay not just in the 80’s, but even now.

Walt ends his relationship with Bennet after it becomes to much for him

Walt ends his relationship with Bennet after it became too much

The AIDs scare and homophobic attacks understandably hurt him

The AIDs scare and homophobic attacks understandably hurt him

(click for full gifset)

(click for full gifset)

But most importantly it shows how someone can feel threatened for being themselves and shamed for simply wanting to be with someone they love. This is a lot to undertake as a teen, but Walt eventually stands up for himself to his parents, insisting they accept them for who he is and who he loves, and surprisingly they do. This gives Walt enough strength to attend prom with Bennet, there Bennet and Maggie meet for the first time and old wounds between Walt and her are healed. The show ended on such a high and I suppose, I can accept that Wennet are living happily ever after in the Upper East Side. But I totally would’ve loved a season 3 just for an introduction to a younger Stannie and Miranda too.

By the end of the series Walt accepts himself and his sexual identity

By the end of the series Walt accepts himself and his sexual identity

Walt makes a powerful but respectful statement to his parents (click for full gifset)

Walt makes a powerful but respectful statement to his parents (click for full gifset)

Stay tuned for my next post in this series.

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