Breaking the stereotypes of gays and lesbians on TV

CREATED ON // Wednesday, 07 May 2014 Written by // Matt Potter

When will TV representation of gays and lesbians focus on our ordinary lives rather than constantly highlight the issues and problems we may face? Matt Porter queries this concept.


I don’t watch much TV. I hear a lot of it though, in the next room, when my partner watches it. (Or rather, usually something he’s recorded earlier.)

And just because it has an LGBTIQ (or whichever initial) theme, doesn’t mean I’m going to watch it, either.

Gay male characters (and there are even less who are lesbian, or trans. And bi characters? ... are there even enough of them to form a question?!) fall into two broad categories.

The first is the best friend of the heroine or brother of the hero or someone who is not central to the story – the sidekick, the sideshow, the freakshow, the class / group / neighbourhood clown, the light / comic relief, and usually not to be taken so seriously.

The second is the central character who is facing some crisis based on his sexuality: issues at school or university or work or with parents or other family or kids or wife (or wives!) or friends, often involving a new love and some self-realisation.

Now I’m not saying these stories and the problems they present are not important or relevant or real. (No, I’m not saying that.) But it would be nice to see a gay character portrayed in a film or on TV where his sexuality is NOT AN ISSUE. It’s just there, the same as if he owns a cat or drives a Toyota or eats sushi or lives in a flat that’s too small and plans on buying a place that’s a bit bigger or is restructuring his finances so he can contribute more to his superannuation or is simply looking for a job.

(Lesbians don’t get a look in here. They don’t. And it is and isn’t part of the broader argument about the lack of women and good roles for women – compared to men and good roles for men – in film and television.)

Perhaps it’s impossible, expecting the issue of same-sex attraction to not be a part of a film or TV program’s plot or discussion points. But I am a bit bored with coming out stories. It’s part of our cultural (or media) obsession with youth.

Yes, our stories continue after we come out!

And as a wider community – or community of communities – we’re more than just who we do or might love, so let’s see that reflected in wider ways.


Matt Potter

Matt Potter

Matt Potter is the Men’s Worker with Bfriend, and has been with Bfriend since January 2013.

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