The representation of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community is increasing in the media today (Draganowski, 2004). In 2000, Richard Hatch, a gay contestant on the first season of Survivor, claimed it was his minority membership and homosexuality that helped him win. Another show, Will & Grace, explored the relationship between gay and straight characters. Reality television shows, including Real World or The Amazing Race, have not been hesitant to use GLB cast members to improve ratings.
Other television shows have helped bring homosexuality out of the closet. Examples include Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer Eye for the Straight Girl, Playing It Straight, Boy Meets Boy (the latter two intersperse gay and straight men and have others guess who is gay), and The L-Word (the Sex in the City for lesbians). Although some of these shows have been controversial, they have also helped pave the way for GLBs on television, resulting in vastly different programming from just a few years ago. Before this, homosexuality was portrayed negatively, with images of GLBs as perverts or murderers, such as characters in movies such as Basic Instinct or Silence of the Lambs.
Another important development in the media is the explosion of gay fiction, nonfiction, plays, and movies that portray gay and lesbian life in America more realistically. Whereas once these types of media were shocking and hidden, now they appear in mainstream bookstores and movie theaters.
Finally, an important step to stopping heterosexism is education. Homosexuality is still a taboo subject in schools, and most proposals to teach sexuality in general—never mind homosexuality in particular—encounter strong opposition by certain parent groups. No teacher would educate students about George Washington Carver, Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King without mentioning that they were black; why then teach students about Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Langston Hughes, or Gertrude Stein without mentioning that they were homosexual?