By Milan Flagler, Staff Writer
Acceptence of the LGBTQ community within the United States has been rising in the recent years thanks to those in the community who have been unapologetically themselves throughout their day to day lives, slowly by slowly understanding has been incorporated into those around the LGBTQ community.
The word acceptance can bring a negative connotation to the outside understanding of the feelings of members in the community. Acceptance means that one party is over the other party, that that they are higher on a societal pedestal. Understanding lays the feelings of the party that’s left out, and opens the door for insight to their experiences, wants and needs. The Rainbow Alliance covered acceptence of the LGBTQ community and the recent representation of LGBTQ characters in animation on Friday, Nov. 20.
Television shows started adapting the use of LGBTQ characters to increase representation for the queer youth. Representation is important, especially as a child. Queer children often grow up with no representation in the media. This makes it harder to find themselves and express their identity in their everyday lives, because it was never seen before. Where they don’t feel support, they know that there are others out there watching the same show, grinning ear to ear, ecstatic to finally see somebody of the same variables being understood.
Nicole Ludwig, President of the Rainbow Alliance gave her opinion on why the relationship wasn’t received as well as it’s creators had hoped. “I think it’s mostly a business thing. Nobody wants to air anything controversial because it’ll end up costing them money,” she said. “It’s all about profit. Second to that, I think it’s the fear that it’ll “turn people gay” as if how that works.”
The need for increased representation lies in the saying “it will turn people gay.” Viewing two people of the same sex being in love, does not alter somebody’s views on their sexuality. It gives people leeway to understand their LGBTQ counterparts. This leads to increased support in the world that those of the LGBTQ community wish for.
“Steven Universe” introduced a lesbian relationship between two characters, Ruby and Sapphire. The wedding displayed Ruby in a dress and Sapphire in a tux. The conversation of gender roles surrounding the LGBTQ community has always been a well-spoken topic with no correct answer. There are no “regular” gender roles when it comes to LGBTQ relationships. Steven Universe portrayed that within LGBTQ relationships, they do not look at life through a heteronormative lens. The episode displayed that partners do what’s comfortable, and simply pick up where their partners lack, to create a balanced, healthy relationship.
The Rainbow Alliance covered an array of television animated characters displaying LGBTQ relationships. As members of the community, the Rainbow Alliance were able to accurately convey the feelings and ideas the show animators wanted to show. Those being in actual relationships, came out to friends or family, experienced hardships due to sexuality, were able to relate to the representation shown in the shows. During the virtual meeting, the members felt the mutual feeling of satisfaction due to representation in animation. Almost as if a large weight has been taken off of their shoulders and they can lay back and say “finally.” “I think socially and generally speaking, we’re very slowly moving in the right direction. There have been increasingly more conversations about sexuality and gender fairly recently that I would have never heard being discussed so openly five years ago,” Ludwig said. “But I also think we’re at a time of major uncertainty as a community. There’s a lot of anxiety within the community lately in regard to the Supreme Court potentially rolling back protections, and yet at the same time, Biden winning the election was a huge victory for us. Personally, I’ve been worried at times, but I try to stay optimistic. I’m always happy to celebrate every victory we have.”
Male representation in animation is generally seen as worse than lesbian representation. When it comes to men, audiences expect to see the normal, high masculine, manly-man being in a relationship with women. There is a stigma centering around gay men that saying they that their masculinity is deteriorated for simply, loving another man. When gay men show emotion, it is quickly judged and not understood.
For young queer boys figuring out their sexuality, coming out, or learning how to express themselves on a daily basis, this type of representation is beyond helpful. Even when support is not found at home, advice can be given through the shows. Methods of dealing with internal societal issues centering around their emerging sexualities. The Netflix show “Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts,” showed Kipo expressed her feelings for a boy she liked and the awkwardness was visible on Kipo’s face as he had to tell her that he actually likes boys. She understood him and stayed his friend. This scene gives queer youth a little more confidence in who they are. The representation of a coming out scene, can inspire young and mature men to embrace themselves and live in their truth. Kipo played a major role in conveying the idea of coming out. Coming out is always seen as something big and unnatural, when actually it’s perfectly normal. Labeling yourself as gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc., is a part of human nature. There is nothing wrong about it. It takes confidence though, to build yourself up to the point to share who you really are in a world that is not very understanding. What these television shows do is show those who wish to truly be themselves, that it is okay, you are supported and understood. The creators show their fans they are heard, important and understood.
“It makes me so happy to see more representation. I think it will help normalize LGBTQ+ people and make queer your feel less alone by having characters they can relate to. You see a lot of people saying “I wish I had this as a kid” and while there’s no way to change that, we can at least strive to make things easier on the generations that come after us,” said Ludwig. It may be too late to correct the past but going forward the future generations will know that they are supported and understood.