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 seasons had been carried out to evaluate the clear presence of habits and spoken messages pertaining to the sexuality of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Intimate content connected with nonheterosexuals was present in about 15% of programs general; nevertheless, 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 likely to want to have nonheterosexual content than those on cable sites, particularly those on premium cable film sites. Implications regarding the continued shortage of attention to intimate minorities are talked about for both heterosexual and nonheterosexual people.


Intimate content of development on US tv changed considerably because the medium was initially created significantly more than 50 years back. At its inception, tv hardly ever presented intimate themes, and for the very very early years of television, subjects such as for example maternity, contraception, along with other components of figures’ sex had been considered too responsive to be portrayed or talked about in tv shows. One theme that’s been specially ignored could be the depiction of sexual dilemmas linked to homosexual, lesbian, and individuals that are bisexual. Inspite of the lifting of some longstanding taboos over the past several years, television development happens to be called “compulsory heterosexual” (Wolf & Kielwasser, 1991), and depictions regarding the intimate problems related to nonheterosexuals 1 may stay fairly unusual (Brown, 2002).

Minimal research that is quantitative been carried out to report homosexual problems and figures on tv. Presently, the majority of exactly exactly what is posted about tv and its particular portrayals of intimate minority themes and figures arises from qualitative writings. The goal of this paper is always to provide quantitative information on intimate behavior and talk that is sexual to nonheterosexuals throughout the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 tv periods. The findings out of this research offer empirical data in regards to the prevalence of nonheterosexual intimate content across a broad variety of tv development, plus the regularity of these intimate content when it’s presented.

Before 1970, very little homosexual characters could possibly be entirely on tv, and their absence that is relative from display proceeded before the 1990s (Wyatt, 2002). In modern times, the number of programs with leading or recurring homosexual figures has diverse from 16 within the 1997-1998 period to 29 into the 2000-2001 period (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, n.d.). Although these figures represent a growth in contrast to days gone by, they have been nevertheless quite tiny weighed against the number that is overall of showing up on television programs broadcast each period.

In accordance with social cognitive theory (Bandura, 2001), one essential method by which tv influences watchers is through supplying vicarious experiences on which to model thinking, attitudes, and behavior whenever real-life experiences tend to be more limited. 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 offer scripts for enacting different intimate habits (Gagnon & Simon, 1973) such as for instance individuals making love having a brand new partner. Reliance on tv shows for intimate scripts and tv figures as models for behavior could be especially strong among youth, whom might not have much first-hand experience with sex, yet are needs to solidify their intimate identities and start to become thinking about intimate relationships (Chapin, 2000). In fact, as many as one out of five teens reports that “entertainment” is the many source that is important of information (Gibbs, 1993 as cited in Brown & Steele, 1995).

Although tv is criticized for perhaps 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) having less 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 at risk of the portrayals of homosexual individuals when you look at the media (Fejes & Petrich, 1993; Ryan & Futterman, 1998). Yet, intimate minorities in many cases are ignored by the main-stream media and addressed as though they don’t occur. This exclusion was free sex cam posited to play a role in maintaining intimate minorities hidden and without energy, an ongoing process which Gross relates to as “symbolic annihilation” (Gross, 1991; Gerbner & Gross, 1976). Portrayals of gay individuals of any age have already been 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 characters who will be confused about their sex (Kielwasser & Wolf, 1992). This is really important because homosexual adolescents frequently cannot get information highly relevant to their sexual orientation from buddies and household and could utilize tv as a source of data about homosexual dilemmas (Paroski, 1987). The little quantity of gay figures on tv, and even smaller number of adolescent homosexual characters, is proposed to donate to a sense of isolation among nonheterosexual youth (Kielwasser & Wolf, 1992).

Even though homosexual figures are portrayed on tv, they are usually shown within an asexual context (Fejes & Petrich, 1993). Gross (1991) cites samples of homosexual figures who have been seldom, if ever, shown in intimate or contexts that are romantic as Sidney in adore Sidney, Steven Carrington in Dynasty, and Marilyn McGrath in Heartbeat. More modern for example Matt Fielding in Melrose spot, whoever orientation that is sexual prominently featured in promotions ahead of the show’s premiere, after which seldom contained in storylines when it comes to very first a few periods (Wyatt, 2002). Until extremely recently, the 2 freely homosexual figures on NBC’s presently popular series that is prime-time and Grace Will and Jack had been hardly ever shown being actually affectionate along with other guys; but, the lead female character Grace, that is heterosexual, has usually demonstrated an ability in intimate circumstances with males. Will and Grace has also been criticized for reinforcing norms that are heterosexual stereotypes about homosexual characteristics such as for example homosexual men being feminine, flamboyant, and promiscuous (Battles & Morrow-Hilton, 2002). Battles and Morrow-Hilton argue that the safer, more assimilated asexual character of Will is usually contrasted utilizing the more flamboyant Jack, that is made enjoyable of to be campy and “queeny.”