Advocacy Groups and the Entertainment Industry

By Michael Suman; Gabriel Rossman | Go to book overview

5
The Proactive Strategy of GLAAD

William Horn, as interviewed by Gabriel Rossman

What do you think about the state of portrayals of homosexuals in the mass media today, especially on television?

I think that portrayals of the lesbian and gay community are light years ahead of where they were even five or ten years ago. But there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of diversity of the characters that you see, especially regarding racial and ethnic diversity. But television specifically--because of the nature of the business--has done more concerning lesbian and gay issues than major motion pictures. And television has done it in an entertaining way that is very appealing to American audiences and in a way that helps them understand lesbian and gay Americans. Television has done this better than movies have and in a different and sometimes more powerful way than a newspaper story can.

How have portrayals of homosexuals in the media changed over time since the formation of GLAAD?

When GLAAD was formed 12 or 13 years ago, you could probably count on one hand the positive lesbian and gay characters that had been on television, recurring or otherwise. And you had your occasional police drama with a gay character who was portrayed in an extremely negative light. Last year we started our season with 30 recurring lesbian and gay characters on national television. That's leaps and bounds ahead of where we were ten, even five, years ago.

What depictions are still being presented that you would like to see changed?

You still have some negative stereotypes that keep popping up in movies that have LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) characters. Bisexuals are promiscuous. Gay men are all rich and white. Lesbians are unnecessarily aggressive and serial killers. These are stereotypes that to a certain extent still do exist, primarily in film--although sometimes on television, too. But I think that

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