Homosexuality and the Media
The media have both reflected the changing attitudes toward homosexuality and influenced public awareness and attitudes. Making gays more commonly known in the mainstream media provides an opportunity for greater familiarity with and understanding of homosexuality. Since the mid-1960s, daytime talk shows have brought previously unknown visibility to gays, lesbians, and bisexual people. Talk shows’ focus on controversial topics gave homosexual guests unprecedented opportunities to represent their own lives and issues. Homosexuality also became more visible—and was portrayed in a more positive light—in films during the 1990s. For example, the 1993 film Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks, was the first major Hollywood feature to confront homophobia and AIDS and was a box-office success. In the later 1990s, movies such as My Best Friend’s Wedding began to portray homosexuals in more ordinary roles. The movie Brokeback Mountain, a love story of two Wyoming cowboys, won numerous awards and was the first same-sex romance to be number one at the box office (Vary, 2006).
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters now appear in many TV shows. Some that are particularly popular with critics and viewers include Glee, True Blood, The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy, and Modern Family. For the 2011-2012 television season, the five broadcast networks—ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and The CW—had 19 gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters, and mainstream cable had approximately 28 gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters on regular series programs (GLAAD, 2011).