by Caroline WeberNeil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Ricky Martin, Jane Lynch. What do these celebrities have in common? They are successful actors and musicians who are openly gay.
While it’s true that we don’t know the troubles they may have faced while coming out, it’s fair to say that now their sexuality is widely accepted by the media. In fact, in recent years the media has set a great example of acceptance of LGBT people.
Magazines like People frequently print pictures of Harris and his family taking a stroll through the neighborhood and of DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi at award shows. By showing these pictures, the media is helping convey that homosexuality is normal and acceptable.
Similarly, many shows like Modern Family and Brothers and Sisters feature LGBT characters. By not making a big deal out of these characters’ sexuality, the shows are sending the message that differences in sexuality are natural and aren’t cause for drama.
The television show Glee takes a different approach; it pushes the boundaries in that it addresses some of the obstacles gay teenagers face. By bringing the audience along on the LGBT characters’ journeys through high school, Glee is educating its viewers, which helps to eradicate some of the unfounded beliefs they might hold about homosexuality.
More importantly, Glee paints those who don’t accept homosexuality as ignorant and uneducated. This is a monumental step for LGBT acceptance, because not only are Glee and other TV shows saying it’s okay to be gay, but they’re saying that it’s wrong not tosupport gay rights.
According to aoltv.com, in 2010, 7.2 percent of all characters featured on ABC shows were LGBT. What’s more, according to cbn.com, 60 percent of people aged 18-30 (arguably those most influenced by the media) support gay marriage compared to only 33 percent of those aged 66-83. It’s clear that LGBT support is rising, and the media’s portrayal of LGBT issues is certainly a contributing factor.
It’s true that being LGBT isn’t as easy as the media makes it out to be, but there is no denying the progress gay acceptance has made in recent years. According to ncsl.org, since 2004, 6 states have legalized gay marriage, and 13 others have provided rights for gay partnerships. While these numbers are nowhere near where they should be, they signify progress.
Additionally, the new cause for celebrities to support is LGBT acceptance. The It Gets Better Project features 142 pages of positive videos sent in from people across the country, including public figures like Tim Gunn, Hilary Clinton and Stephen Colbert. Lady Gaga is also a leader in the fight for LGBT acceptance, with her song “Born this Way” and the launch of the Born This Way Foundation.
For LGBT teens who need help, trevorproject.org provides online support in a variety of forms. Closer to home, the WHS Gay Straight Alliance meets once a month and offers a safe place for dialogue and education. Hopefully, with this support, LGBT acceptance will continue to rise, and those at WHS who are suffering in silence will soon suffer no longer.