How Times Have Changed (Blog #4, by Evan Quinones)

In yesterday’s class, one of our discussion leaders talked about The Celluloid Closet, a documentary that highlights the portrayal of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals in film. As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was personally interested in hearing about this subject matter in class. Even though I knew, as it is common knowledge, that early on in cinema history, members of the LGBT community were not portrayed in the brightest light on screen, I was still really bothered and angered hearing it discussed out loud. As we talked about, they were seen as sinners or mentally ill people. I remember how the 1990’s prime time soap opera Melrose Place featured the gay character Matt Fielding for about 5 seasons. Throughout the show, he was depicted as meeting guys and going out on romantic dates to restaurants and such. However, he was the only character on a show of about 7 or 8 people, that was never shown kissing or in bed with somebody else. There was even a big story about how he was going to have his first on screen kiss. But when this story came out, there was a major uproar from the viewing audiences. Pressures from FOX forced the show to edit out the kiss. However, as with everything, change occurred, and we now live in a time period where LGBT characters and people are seen everywhere. From movies, to television shows, to musical artists and actors, to news anchors. Back in 2010, the film Beginners, was a major hit with audiences and critics. It told the real life story of a man (played by Ewan McGregor) who’s father (played by Christopher Plummer) comes out to him as gay at the age of 75, five years before his death. Christopher Plummer would eventually go on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Today, for the most part, it is much more acceptable and easier to come out as gay or as a member of the LGBT community. Yes, unfortunately, there are still instances of gay bashing and bullying out there in the world. However, in comparison to how it was years ago, being LGBT is not as shunned or stigmatized by society, as seen with marriage equality being legalized nationwide in 2015. I always remind myself to be grateful to live in a time where I can be myself openly and honestly. Who knows how my life would have been if I were living in the 1970’s and earlier. My question is: If you are a member of the LGBT community, how has this shift in the portrayal of LGBT characters impacted your life? If you are not a member of the LGBT community, how can you relate to this progression. In other words, was your identity or part of your identity not previously portrayed on movies or in the media, but is now being portrayed today? If so, how is it being portrayed?

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2 thoughts on “How Times Have Changed (Blog #4, by Evan Quinones)

  1. This progression has changed for the best because now people from the LGBT community can freely express themselves and be represented in media more respectfully. I remember growing up, when my sister, cousin, and I would take turns choosing a movie to rent at the video store. One day it was my sister turn to chose a movie and she choose “Loving Annabelle”. The movie was about a girl entering an all girl Catholic school and pursues her teacher. At first we didn’t realize that this was a lesbian movie, but towards the end we figured it out and my cousin was teasing my sister saying, “why she choose a gay movie” and “we better look out she might be gay”. It’s something that’s just not acceptable and embarrassing to be at those times. Last year, a cousin from my mother side, has been with her partner for over a year now and her family is so embarrassed, that they won’t attend family gatherings. To my knowledge my cousin is happy in her relationship and I hope we can come together once again. Overall, I’m glad times have changed and people are becoming more accepted.

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    • Like I mentioned in class, I’m proud to see positive LGBT families represented on television and on film with The Fosters and The Kids are Alright. Growing up I felt like I was the only person that was gay. I saw no real representation. And if something was shown it wasn’t positive, it was all about gays as villains or less than human. It wasn’t until I started watching Ellen’s prime time television show where I began to identify with a character or screen. She dressed masculine and although the story line did not have her as lesbian I just knew I identified with her. That goes back to a part in Celluloid Closet where it was said that the audience that isn’t represented begins to make up their own bison of the characters. So when the storyline called for the discussion of her nonexistent love life or having her date, I always assumed it was that way because she wanted a woman. So I was ecstatic when she actually came out on the show. So once I hit teenage years there were movies that began to surface that I could see visibility. ‘But I’m a Cheerleader’ (1999) and ‘If these walls could talk 2’ (2001) were decent films with two different tones. I feel there needs to be more movies that are fun, and humorous but relatable to its intended audience. But I’m a cheerleader is one of those films that do that. As a movie that explores a young girl who dates guys but her friends and family organize an intervention to cure her of her lesbian ways, but she doesn’t admit to it. Long story short, she begins to accept herself and gains friends but it is through relatable humor and life lessons that leaves the viewer (LGBT) feeling proud and ready to face the world. If these walls could talk 2 walks through the history and progression of 3 lesbian couples that lived in the same house at different time periods. It explored losing a partner and not having legal rights to the house or medical decisions because their relationship was not recognized. Then exploring the feminism during the LGBT rights movement and the rising but not accepted visibility of butch (masculine identified woman) lesbians. Then the third couple showcased their journey with childbirth and their use of a sperm donor. These two movies were great for me, I’m sure there are things that are still problematic with them but at least I began to see more representation and also films with younger characters. But we definitely more Trans* representation. It would be interesting to recreate a Celluloid Closet that discusses and analyzes transgender representation on film throughout history. Just the small visibility of LGBT characters that were portrayed in film impacted me in a great way. Even though I felt alone in the world, watching these shows or films made me feel free and truly myself if just for a moment. So I appreciate the small steps. It’s much better than no representation at all.

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