Educational LGBTQ+ representation in Pop Culture
We live in a society that is engulfed in pop culture thanks to media. Media, in some fashion, is a part of almost everyone’s daily routine, and because of this, pop culture is a powerful and influential force for each individual in our society. Regardless of quality and accuracy, media coverage and portrayals are highly modelled and valued by those who partake in any form of popular culture. Unfortunately, several groups of individuals “suffer unequal treatment both in and outside the media,” and one of those groups is the LGBTQIA community. Several studies indicated that the influence popular culture has on individuals both within and outside the LGBTQIA community is striking, as LGBTQIA individuals were likely to be portrayed in a negative or stereotypical manner. The media's portrayals of LGBTQIA individuals have been increasing and are becoming less stereotypical over time, but realistic portrayals are still quite rare. However, there’s a glimmer of hope after all.
Thanks to OTT platforms and shows with progressive plotlines, the narrative for LGBTQ individuals is heading in a positive direction. There have been various instances where one can spot educational representation of the members of the LGBTQIA community in popular TV shows. A recent example of this could be observed in the Netflix original Sex Education which has done ground-breaking work in order to break the stereotypes associated with the representation of the community. Right from addressing pertinent issues related to sexual orientation, inclusion and “coming out of the closet” to representing the problems faced by non-binary individuals in an unbiased and accurate manner, this show has managed to establish a level of learning which imparts correct information about the community to the society. Another show called Schitt’s Creek features a pansexual lead protagonist and addresses queer representation in an educational manner. This show is quite integral in normalizing LBTQ relationships especially in countries like India. The show Queer Eye is another important show which consists of 5 queer individuals excelling in different fields while dispelling myths associated with the community. This show also focuses on the struggles and the various challenges the queer protagonists overcome in order to establish their position in society.
Even social media platforms like Instagram have been quite influential in setting up a healthy narrative for LGBTQIA individuals. There are numerous pages on Instagram which have taken it upon themselves to work towards the betterment of the members. Some popular pages include accounts like The Queer Muslim Project which was started in 2017 to advocate equal representation and inclusiveness for queer Muslims. It carries personal accounts of queer Muslims across India and South Asia about how they navigate through culture and identity. There are many influencers from the queer community in India like Sushant Divgikar/Rani KoHEnur, Dr. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, Alok Menon are shattering rigid societal norms and stereotypes by employing the power of their presence on Instagram. They don’t shy away from embracing and taking pride in their real self and express themselves freely. These queer influencers on Instagram educate their audience through art, illustrations, poetry and/or other content not only about queer advocacy but also various other socio-political issues.
Although the journey to establish a safe space for LGBTQIA individuals in society is a long one that is ridden with innumerable obstacles, the educational representation of the community is a small step in the right direction. After all, “Most big transformations come about from the hundreds of tiny, almost imperceptible steps we take along the way.”
Written by: Mukti Manai