Article

Gays and Lesbians in the Media

David Gudelunas

in Communication

ISBN: 9780199756841
Published online April 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0068
Gays and Lesbians in the Media

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How gay men and lesbians are represented in the media has been one of the most prolific areas of research and analysis within gay and lesbian studies as well as queer theory since the 1970s. Although a relatively recent area of scholarship, this work is considered vital for a better understanding of how a modern gay and lesbian identity was shaped, reflected, and at times ignored by mainstream media. For gay men and lesbians who comprise a type of invisible minority group that is rarely born into gay or lesbian families, communities, or support networks, the importance of mainstream media representations is considered paramount. Because oftentimes an individual’s knowledge of gay life is formed almost exclusively through lessons from the media, how gay men and lesbians are portrayed has been an area of intense scrutiny and criticism. Whereas early studies focused on the complete erasure of gay and lesbian identity and the simple caricatures and stereotypes that populated Hollywood films and to a lesser extent television and other media, more recently research has expanded. New work considers how gay and lesbian audiences are able to reappropriate media images and how new genres and digital technologies are changing the relationships among producers, media texts, and audiences while creating more varied, if not necessarily more positive, representations of sexual minorities. Academic work on gays and lesbians in the media is inherently interdisciplinary, with studies coming from film historians, media theorists, communication scholars, sociologists, psychologists, and a host of other disciplinary and methodological traditions. This broad array of academic work is supplemented by a range of activist and popular accounts of the place of gay men and lesbians in the mainstream media. Not surprisingly, much of the work in this area is critical of the mainstream media and argues that what few representations of sexual minorities do exist in the mainstream media are problematic and should be rectified.

Article.  9626 words. 

Subjects: Communication Studies

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