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LGBT Representation in Media

Compared to years past, recent media has shown a rise in positive representation, not only for LGBT community, but women, and people of colour. No longer are we left with only small cult films and literature about “bohemian” lifestyles, but in all mainstream media from books and comics to Hollywood films, people are seeing people like themselves telling and starring in stories. To wrap up LGBT History Month, Vulcans Captain Michael Hudson shares his top choices for LGBT representation.

  1. Love Simon

Love Simon is the first film from a major Hollywood studio to have a gay romance for the protagonist. As soon as 20th Century Fox announced that it was working on this I was incredibly excited. I can’t count the number of times I have watched it but in less than a year since its release, it has become my go-to movie. If you’ve met me in the last 9 months, you probably had to endure me talking about Love Simon. 

It’s impact for representation is obvious as it gave hundreds of LGBT teens (and adults) the chance to see their story in a rom-com with a decent budget and a lot of attention. It was on the side of buses, spoke about on an international level, and even won Best Kiss at the MTV Movie and TV Awards. I came out in secondary school and I see a lot of myself and my story in Simon, even though my tale was a lot less turbulent.

Simon is very lucky to have supportive friends, parents and teachers. Even more luckily for LGBT cinema, he has a happy ending. Love Simon is a feel good movie with a superb soundtrack, a great cast and will give you all the feels. (I cried like 6 times when I saw it in the cinema).

Love Simon is available pretty much anywhere you can buy DVDs and the book (Simon VS the Homosapiens Agenda) is pretty easy to find too.

2.  The Favourite

Tell me there’s a film with Rachel Weisz as a lesbian ladies maid in Stuart England and I’m sold. Add in Emma Stone and Olivia Colman and you’ll have my undying attention. Shot with a sharp modern sense of cinematography but with the period setting, a hilarious script, and an almost all-star cast, The Favourite has well-deservedly been storming awards season as well as critics and reviews. 

Olivia Colman’s witty and temperamental portrayal of Queen Anne is a triumph for the British actress and the chemistry with Stone and Weisz is incredible. Once again, seeing an LGBT storyline in a setting that most have never seen before makes for a heartfelt and emotional story on the silver screen. 

Even if you don’t believe the historical accuracy, aren’t too keen on hearing the c-word, or don’t give much rank by Oscars and Golden Globes, you should go an see this movie!

The Favourite is still being shown in most cinema’s in the UK so don’t miss it!

3.  Heartstopper

Another welcome find in 2018, that instantly shot to the top of my list of favourite things, was Heartstopper by Alice Osman. 

Heartstopper is a web comic about two boys, Charlie and Nick at their all boys school. Charlie has been the victim of homophobic bullying and Nick is slowly realising his bi-sexuality. Best of all they both play Rugby! Even though their personalities and styles differ greatly, the story at minimum shows the inclusivity Rugby has no matter your size, sexuality or experience. 

Heartstopper is a gorgeously drawn, emphatically written story that is updated 3 times a month online and has seen huge success in having the first chapters published as books. As well as tugging all the emotional heartstrings of coming-of-age coming out stories, all the characters have realistic tone and humour, and there’s ample representation for the L B and T too (not just the Gs!)

Charlie and Nick (my new favourite ship) started as background characters in Alice Osman’s novel Solitaire but now the British artist and author has seen these characters become some of her most beloved and I look forward to every update on the blog. 

Visit the tumblr to read all the published pages and learn more about Alice’s work. 

4. RuPauls Drag Race

Love it or hate it, it is undeniable the impact on representation that Drag Race has had. Former contestants are now taking over other forms of media, with Courtney Act competing on AUS Dancing with the Stars, Shangela attending the Oscars to support her friend and co-star Lady Gaga, and Trixie Mattel having success with their Country albums to name a few. 

RuPaul’s Drag Race has brought drag out from the small dive clubs in major cities, to the limelight in many LGBT spaces and beyond. Sheffield is welcoming lots of Drag Race queens to major city centre venues like Leadmill, the O2 academy and Plug this year alone! Thousands across the world are learning more about the art form of drag that has influenced and supported so much of LGBT history.

You can complain about the shady editing, the obvious over-producing, and even the controversial comments from Ru about our trans brother and sisters, but at the same time, we can all enjoy the exceptional lip syncs, camp costumes, and the Emmy award winning popularity of an almost LGBT only reality show.

Seasons 1 to 10 are on Netflix and All Stars 1 to 4 are on Now TV as well as the plethora of additional content on youtube and beyond.

5.  Sex Education

The time period and geographical setting of this Netflix original series is really confusing, but what is clear is the fact that it is a great show. Side splittingly funny (in my opinion) with enough awkward British quirks and the gregariousness of American absurdity to leave you wanting more than the 8 episodes in season 1.

The series is not afraid to broach sensitive topics in the world of sexual health and it makes the characters more real and relatable even if other elements of the programme are a tiny bit farfetched. It has amazing characters who are LGBT, people of colour, and gives screen time to a host of rising stars and better known faces at the same time. 

It’s not without it’s problems (cardinal sin of Armoured Closet Gay) but I’m swayed by the laughs and instead choose to relax and enjoy it for the funny teen comedy with Dana Scully as Sex Therapist slash Embarrassing Mum that it is. 

Season 1 is available now on Netflix with season 2 already confirmed.

6.  Queer as Folk 

How can I mention LGBT representation without the most graphic portrayal of gays that late nineties terrestrial tele had to offer?

This week saw the 20th anniversary of Queer as Folk’s first episode being aired and for many LGBT brits this was the OG piece of TV representation. I remember seeing it on Channel 4 when I was sneakily watching tele way past my bed time and whilst I didn’t understand all the references, it struck a chord that they were showing men being in love (and lust) on TV.

Many of the stars have gone on to become household names from other shows and movies, but to me Petyr Baelish will always be man-slut Stuart Jones, and Raleigh Becket will always be the shrill over-dramatic Nathan. The US version is definitely worth a watch as it has 5 seasons of 22 episodes and so can delve much deeper into characters, and tackle other topics like living through the AIDS crisis, but definitely watch the British version first. 

Even though theres only 8 episodes and a feature length ninth, Russel T Davis’ series was ground-breaking if not for the detailed and varied portrayal of LGBT people in Manchester but for the no bars held approach to gay sex scenes on a channel paid for by the licence payer. 

You can watch it all on All4 right now so go ahead and you can thank me later.

Do you agree with Michael? What are your top choices for books, films, and tv shows that have positive representation for LGBT people? Let us know in the comments on Facebook, or on twitter using #VulcansVoice