What Comes Next? The Future of LGBT Representation

So here we are. The final post on LGBTelevision: at least for now. While my time in this blogging course is drawing to a close, I have learned that I’d like to keep blogging in the future. While I’m not sure about keeping LGBTelevision as my only blog (there are tons of things I would want to talk about outside of the specifics!), I can see myself returning here to keep up with discussions on the future of these shows after putting all of my final papers to bed.

But today, I want to look ahead. I want to take a look at what might be to come, what might the future of representation for LGBT youth in television look like.

WOW

There are shows that represent LGBT couples for young people that are being renewed all over the place. Much to my chagrin and hesitance, the CW has renewed The 100 for a fourth season (there are some chilling rumours about what that season will bring in terms of their representation, but I’m not here to talk about spoilers). Netflix’s Sense8 will be entering its second season. And Freeform’s Shadowhunters will be sailing into Season 2. I didn’t talk about Shadowhunters on the blog already, as I have fallen behind on the show, but if you’re a fan of the show I highly recommend checking out my good friend Allison’s blog: she has gone in depth on every episode so far with a feminist reading.

The main representation in Shadowhunters comes from warlock Magnus Bane and Shadowhunter (aka demon hunter) Alec Lightwood, who are on their way into a romance that is celebrated and loved in Cassandra Clare’s book series and extending into the television adaptation as well. Though I am woefully behind, things appear to be incredibly interesting for Magnus and Alec at the moment, and now that the show has gotten a second season, the writers will have the time to really work at their relationship to give it the full arc it needs to really secure its place.

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The fact that network shows aimed at youth that feature LGBT characters and couples are being renewed (there are additionally plenty of shows that aren’t specifically enjoyed by young people: Orange is the New Black and Modern Family are both immensely popular and still growing strong) is a really positive direction to take. The more shows that represent young LGBT people, the more individuals that will be able to point at a character onscreen and declare “hey, that’s just like me!”

And we’ll be one step closer to another young people learning to love and accept themselves and their identity.

On the subject of young people learning, there’s a key audience for the future of representation in the upcoming generations. Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World, while not a show with active queer representation, is headlined by fourteen year-old feminist activist Rowan Blanchard. Blanchard is not only one of the most well-spoken young people I’ve ever heard of, but also does not desire to label her sexuality and has shown outward support of her character on the show possibly being bisexual. (There is a massive fan following for the potential ship between Riley and Maya: however, the fanbase for this ship is older than GMW’s target audience.)

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Girl Meets World has already discussed gender equality and autism on the show, so there is a possibility that Blanchard will get her wish. Disney Channel, who caters to a young audience, could blaze trails with representation with an LGBT storyline on Girl Meets World. It could really create a safe space for young people to learn about those with different sexualities in their media. And that could create a generation of young people who are accepting and understanding of their own identities and their peers’. The channel has already featured an episode of their former show Good Luck Charlie wherein one of the little girl’s friends has two moms. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.

You might be wondering how the fandoms of these shows have come into play: there hasn’t been a ton of discussion on a few of the topics I’ve discussed in the last little while. Recently, fans trended the topic “LGBT FANS DESERVE BETTER” on Twitter in the wake of controversial episodes of popular television, and fans of The 100 have begun donating money to The Trevor Project to use their show to spread awareness and support for LGBT youth. This uproar against killing LGBT characters, especially female characters, has been recognized by Entertainment Weekly and had a great piece written on Jezebel about it (WARNING: both of these articles contain spoilers for The 100, and the EW article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead‘s most recent episode).

The fact that so many lesbian characters are being killed is creating a revolution among the fans. Fans who see themselves in these characters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and other sexual orientations and gender identities cry out for more representation. We want more: want to be treated fairly, given more than three minutes of happiness.

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(It’s not in English, but you get the point.)

So, in the wake of this final blog post, I want to pose the question. Don’t we deserve better? Television deserves diversity in order to foster the potential for a more accepting audience. Although my blog focused on sexual orientation and gender, this expands into racial representation and representation of disabilities as well.

There is a revolution coming: one that will create media where everyone can point at a character and say “hey, that’s just like me.” Where these characters aren’t played off for jokes, killed for shock value or to further the Bury Your Gays trope, or are used as a plot device and discarded. These characters change the lives of all viewers. And maybe, just maybe, when there is more representation, art will imitate life and the world will become a more accepting place.

Clarke Griffin changed my life. Who might change yours?

Until next time, readers!

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2 thoughts on “What Comes Next? The Future of LGBT Representation

  1. Thank you for the shoutout, darling! Great post, as always. I agree with you wholeheartedly on this, and I think the more questions raised, the more boundaries pushed and the more discussion had about the importance of representation can only help in terms of representation!
    It obviously matters in not only areas of gender or sexuality, but like you said, in race and in terms of disabilities as well. People exist in the world and they are different, multi-faceted and interesting, so why shouldn’t our art reflect that? There’s no more arguing about whether or not representation matters. It does. I can’t wait for more beautiful characters to captivate me and great books and shows and movies to change my life!

    Like

  2. Love this post! I am sad to see your blog go as it was one of my favourites to read. I have created a list of shows that you have mentioned that I am so anxiously waiting to start but I have forced myself to wait until after exams – it’s basically torture. I had no idea that Rowan was such an LGBTQ advocate and I think it’s great to see especially at such a young age! I think that it would be great if Disney were to include aspects of sexuality/sexual orientation in to their show as it would impact such a wide audience. I think that exposing children to topics such as sexuality through television is something that is important because a lot of children who are unsure of their own sexuality can relate and especially if it is displayed on such a popular and loved channel such as Disney. I think this would encourage acceptance for many young people out there. I will really miss your blog and I really hope that there continues to be positive changes to representation of all kinds in television!

    Like

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