Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Information on Tv: A Quantitative Analysis Across Two Seasons

Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Information on Tv: A Quantitative Analysis Across Two Seasons


Two yearly content analyses of development through the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 tv periods had been carried out to evaluate the clear presence of actions and spoken messages associated with the sexuality of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Intimate content connected with nonheterosexuals ended up being present in about 15% of programs general; nonetheless, prices of event within episodes had been low. Of 14 genres, just films and variety/comedy shows had significant percentages of programs that included nonheterosexual content. Programs on commercial broadcast systems had been less inclined to have content that is nonheterosexual those on cable systems, specially those on premium cable film systems. Implications associated with continued lack of attention to intimate minorities are talked about both for heterosexual and nonheterosexual audiences.


Sexual content of development on US television changed significantly because the medium was initially designed significantly more than 50 years back. At its inception, tv hardly ever presented intimate themes, and for the very early years of tv, subjects such as for instance pregnancy, contraception, as well as other areas of figures’ sex were considered too responsive to be portrayed or talked about in tv shows. One theme which has been particularly ignored may be the depiction of intimate dilemmas pertaining to homosexual, lesbian, and bisexual people. Inspite of the lifting of some longstanding taboos over the past a few years, tv development happens to be called heterosexual” that is“compulsoryWolf & Kielwasser, 1991), and depictions associated with the intimate dilemmas related to nonheterosexuals 1 may stay relatively unusual (Brown, 2002).

Minimal research that is quantitative been carried out to report homosexual dilemmas and figures on tv. Currently, nearly all of exactly just what happens to be posted about tv and its particular portrayals of sexual minority themes and figures arises from qualitative writings. The objective of this paper is always to provide quantitative information on intimate behavior and intimate talk related to nonheterosexuals over the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 tv seasons. The findings out of this research offer empirical data in regards to the prevalence of nonheterosexual content that is sexual a broad variety of tv programming, plus the regularity of these intimate content when it’s presented.

Before 1970, very little gay figures could possibly be entirely on tv, and their general lack through the display screen proceeded before the 1990s (Wyatt, 2002). In the past few years, the amount of programs with leading or recurring homosexual figures has varied from 16 into the 1997-1998 period to 29 within the 2000-2001 period (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, n.d.). Although these numbers represent a rise weighed against yesteryear, they’re nevertheless quite little in contrast to the general wide range of figures showing up on tv programs broadcast each period.

Based on social cognitive theory (Bandura, 2001), one essential way in which tv influences people is through supplying vicarious experiences upon which to model opinions, attitudes, and behavior whenever real-life experiences are far more restricted. A closely associated concept is the fact that the news by depicting intimate situations that individuals may possibly not be in a position to see any place else provide scripts for enacting different intimate actions (Gagnon & Simon, 1973) such as for example individuals sex by having a partner that is new. Reliance on tv programs for intimate scripts and tv figures as models for behavior might be specially strong among youth, whom might not have much experience that is first-hand sex, yet are needs to solidify their intimate identities and be thinking about intimate relationships (Chapin, 2000). In fact, up to one out of five teenagers reports that “entertainment” is the many crucial supply of sexual information (Gibbs, 1993 as cited in Brown & Steele, 1995).

Although tv happens to be criticized for maybe maybe perhaps not supplying role that is good for adolescents as an example, abstinence among teenagers is seldom portrayed in an optimistic light (Committee on Communications, 1995) the possible lack of good part models on tv is more extreme for homosexual, lesbian, and bisexual youth (Kielwasser & Wolf, 1992). Many lesbians and homosexual males develop in a straight community with few homosexual part models; therefore, they’ve been especially in danger of the portrayals of homosexual individuals within the media (Fejes & Petrich, 1993; Ryan & Futterman, 1998). Yet, intimate minorities in many cases are ignored because of the mainstream media and addressed as though they cannot exist. This exclusion happens to be posited to donate to maintaining intimate minorities hidden and without energy, a procedure which Gross identifies as “symbolic annihilation” (Gross, 1991; Gerbner & Gross, 1976). Portrayals of homosexual folks of all ages are unusual and frequently negative (Gross, 1991, 1996; Moritz, 1994), and portrayals of young nonheterosexuals are also less frequent (Kielwasser & Wolf, 1992). Programs for adolescent audiences often portray an exclusively heterosexual environment, with just occasional brief appearances by adolescent figures who will be confused about their sex (Kielwasser & Wolf, 1992). This is really important because homosexual adolescents usually cannot get information highly relevant to their intimate orientation from buddies and household and could make use of tv as being a supply of data about homosexual dilemmas (Paroski, 1987). The number that is small of figures on tv, as well as smaller number of adolescent homosexual figures, is proposed to play a role in a sense of isolation among nonheterosexual youth (Kielwasser & Wolf, 1992).

Even if homosexual figures are portrayed on tv, they usually are shown in a context that is asexualFejes & Petrich, 1993). Gross (1991) cites types of homosexual characters have been hardly ever, when, shown in intimate or contexts that are romantic as Sidney in like Sidney, Steven Carrington in Dynasty, and Marilyn McGrath in Heartbeat. More modern these include Matt Fielding in Melrose Put, whoever orientation that is sexual prominently showcased in promotions prior to the show’s premiere, after which rarely incorporated into storylines when it comes to very very very first a few periods (Wyatt, 2002). Until very recently, the 2 freely homosexual figures on NBC’s presently popular prime-time series Will and Grace Will and Jack had been seldom shown being actually affectionate with other males; nevertheless, the lead female character Grace, that is heterosexual, has frequently been proven in sexual circumstances with males. Will and Grace also offers been criticized for reinforcing heterosexual norms and stereotypes about homosexual faculties such as for example homosexual males being feminine, flamboyant, and promiscuous (Battles & Morrow-Hilton, 2002). Battles and Morrow-Hilton argue that the safer free adult chat room, more assimilated asexual character of Will is usually contrasted using the more flamboyant Jack, that is made enjoyable of if you are campy and “queeny.”

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