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SpoilerTV's Weekly Round Table: Pride 2018

6 Jun 2018

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Hi guys, welcome to this week's Weekly Round Table. As many know, the month of June is culturally known as Pride Month so this week's round table is dedicated to state of Queer representation in media today. 

Joining me today are STV writers Yon, Nirat, Jamie, Abi, Patrycja, Laura, Ami and Joey.

What are some of your favorite depictions (Ships, characters ect) of the LGBTQ+ community and why have they resonated with you? Are there any Queer shows, actors, or producers you would recommend?

Yon: I absolutely loved Emily and Paige on Pretty Little Liars. Granted they didn't get all that much screen time and end up as an official end game, but the coming out storyline they gave to Paige and the bullying storyline with Alison was extremely well done by Pretty Little Liars standards. Delphine on Orphan Black is also one of my favourite characters & the show redeemed itself slightly bringing her back after she was presumed dead. I'm also a big supporter of Alex/Maggie (I'll touch on that more in a moment) and Sara/Ava from Legends of Tomorrow.

Not an American drama but I have over the last few months gotten back into watching Coronation Street, and they've been doing a pretty great storyline with one of their characters called Rana. Over the last year she's gone from being a side character brought in to be paired up with a man, to a character who has discovered her sexual identity and begun a relationship with another regular character Kate. The relationship in itself isn't ground breaking as quite a few British soaps are now starting to feature LGBT characters & relationships, but she is a Muslim woman who has had to deal with her parents disowning and attempting to kidnap her, because they so strongly disapprove of her relationship with Kate and the relationship & the issues faced has helped a lot of people and the actresses involved are so supportive of their characters, the impact the storyline has had on the audience and so open & protective of their storyline and it's absolutely beautiful.

Nirat: The first depiction would be Kurt and Blaine from Glee (I’m not a fan of what happened with them later on in the series even if they ended up happy together, it just ruined their happiness at the end for me but I always enjoyed them in the earlier seasons). The best depiction is Stef and Lena from The Fosters. I’ve never seen more loving parents than them, people who’ve opened their hearts to so many children and cared for them with an abundance of understanding and affection. I think it’s so important to see this on screen, more gay parents in loving relationships that don’t even in cheating or divorce etc. It’s also important because for every awful social media post where homophobic people don’t like seeing gay parents it’s important to show more Stef and Lena’s. Lets normalize these happy families because despite The Fosters shortcomings it’s in Stef and Lena that they always stood strong and why I’ll always feel it’s a huge disappointment the spinoff isn’t featuring them. They were always the glue that held this show together.

Highly recommend Pose, I literally watched it on Sunday night. It’s such a beautiful showcase of love and acceptance and the harsh reality people of color who are trans and gay go through (and they are played by POC!, it’s so rare yet inspiring, and it’s so entertaining with a killer soundtrack too). Slowly but surely change is coming but I hope it’s also beyond cable networks because the harsh truth is that young people who need this representation to not make them feel so alone can’t always have access to it. Yes, I totally know everyone watches stuff quietly online nowadays because of fear, it’s one of the reasons many didn’t watch Love, Simon, they hadn’t come out etc and needed to wait for the digital release (which also just happened!) but more characters in shows they watch, popular CW-esque shows, I’m sure it’d mean a lot.

I’m also aware not all American audiences want to change and accept this but it should happen regardless, no one forces anyone to watch, you can simply switch the channel, with over 300 shows on TV, network or cable or streaming, there is ample space for representation, it’s just not being given the opportunity to. Too much hate and intolerance is happening, if you add in a bisexual computer hacker into the multitude of cop dramas it won’t hurt. It’d just make the audience become familiar and understanding that people like this exist, they are in front of you even if you dislike it, and they are exactly like you, they deserve respect and kindness.

CBS’ Instinct has it’s first gay lead in a procedural, I’m happy for that show even if it’s not for the people who might need it but if there happens to be a gay procedural fan out there I’m sure they are grateful and on a network like CBS’, it’s progress. So whilst I don’t watch Instinct it’s good to see a normalization of a lead like him, we’ve seen so many straight couples who have that will they, won’t they thing going on, why not some gay, bi or trans characters (but with trans characters respect needs to be taken). I’d also like to add, I always appreciated how Raymond Holt was written on Brooklyn 99, a lead in a comedy whose sexuality wasn’t a defining characteristic unlike Kevin on Riverdale and no offense but all he is gay, the writers have done absolutely nothing to make him a complex, layered character because he’s virtually non-existent unless it’s to prop up another character or say a typically gay remark that’s become so normalized on TV.

Laura recommended me Please Like Me, an Australian dramedy which showcases a white gay lead whose unconventional and it’s so refreshing. He’s not the usual network TV attractive and not to say he isn’t attractive but TV showcases an unattainable sense of worth and beauty, in straight characters but also in gay and lesbian characters, they only showcase a sense of perfection that literally very few people have on this earth.  People ask where intolerance comes from and it’s this, we only see perfection, even in trans portrayals, movie studios with rather show a cis-male than a trans-woman and it’s heartbreaking because everyone expects that is what they will all look like and if it’s not like that they’ll shun them into the darkness and it’s not right. It only promotes a misconception and allows for further discrimination.

 Also, I love Lionel on Dear White People, he’s a quirky, shy guy and this kind of depiction is often ignored in TV. Elena Alvarez on One Day at a Time is a rainbow of awesomeness and her storyline being such a central part of the show and her coming out not being tied to a relationship is so unheard of and welcome. I also think Isak and Even from SKAM, that popular Norwegian show that so many watched because of Twitter was a truly groundbreaking portrayal of white gay characters. I’d never seen such a storyline showcased with so much focus two gay characters, they were never stereotypical in any sense like you’d see on traditional U.S. TV, they were so genuine, they were two people who loved each other and that was it. Yorkie & Kelly from Black Mirror’s San Junipero were absolutely everything. The one rare time Black Mirror had a beautiful ending and it was more than fitting it was for them. To see two people in love, who just happen to be woman and they were never cheating on anyone, they were just being happy and in sci-fi too! It’s wonderful and so rare.

Titus on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is everything, you don’t see many characters like him, we don’t see enough diversity in body sizes on TV, I think it’s truly needed. Too often gay characters are skinny white guys who only date people who look like themselves and whilst there are people like that, what about everyone else who doesn’t fit into that box of perfection. I recognize marketing comes into play and audiences liking that typical “hot” TV and movies has pushed for so long but reliability is also important. The world isn’t built with just ab friendly, flawless skin gay characters so it’s time they show the other kinds of them.

I also think that the unconventional gay character shouldn't just be used for the butt of the joke, and I think everyone knows what I mean. I watched Avatar The Last Airbender as a child and I always appreciated it because no other show showcased Asian principles in a cartoon, let alone a U.S. show and it was groundbreaking to me, I felt seen but then in the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, I always thought the ending with Korra & Asami was so beautiful. Whilst it might not have always been the main focus in the storyline because it was a children’s show and I can understand because it was played all over the world in countries who are still blacklisting LGBT content for them to have that bold and impressive finale shot in a way anyone can interpret but still meant something powerful was something so important and I watched that as a teen. I think so many appreciated it. TV has so much power, racism and discrimination and acceptance and tolerance can come from it because of depictions of characters.

Lastly, Love, Simon, if you haven’t seen it, please do, I love this movie so much, yes it’s the simplest gay story but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be seen. We’ve seen so many Nicholas Spark-esque romantic movies that it’s breathtaking to see a rom-com/drama in the vein of those wonderful movies I grew up with like 13 Going on 30 etc but it just happened to have a gay character. I wish TV shows had the same amount of joy in them when they deal with gay characters because sometimes it’s just nice, too often movies and TV focus on destructive gay relationships coming out of cheating or improper relationships and whilst they have a place in media they also give the worst portrayal of LGBT people. Everyone deserves a great love story and I’m glad Love Simon had that opportunity to show one and I hope they are more like it (I know theres a different kind of one in Boy Erased, a movie coming out later this year and Alex Strangelove on Netflix but I think lesbian or bi-people deserve this as-well as trans people). So many TV shows could learn from Love, Simon, especially Riverdale.

Jamie: My favorite depictions are of course the ones that have an emotional impact for me. It's only been recently that there have been depictions that have moved me. The first couple that really affected me was Clarke & Lexa, though I didn't realize it at the time. When Lexa was killed off it hit me really hard, and figuring out why it had made me come to a few realizations of my own.

The coming out stories of Alex on Supergirl and Elena on One Day At A Time also had a large impact on me. This was one of the first times that I'd seen a coming out story that didn't involve a love interest. And most recently Kat's coming out story on The Bold Type was also very important to me. Everything about that story line from her own acceptance to the total acceptance of everyone around her and how she didn't really care all that much about labels made me feel a lot less insecure for not having figured out all of my shit. I would definitely recommend The Bold Type and One Day At A Time, but also Carmilla, the little web series that got so popular it lead to a movie. I'm not a web series person but I fell hopelessly in love with this show and the movie was pretty great.

Abi: Hands down Stef and Lena on The Fosters, This is a loving couple in a stable relationship and the writers have been committed to keeping them together throughout the five season run that they've had and any dramatic storylines has never involved cheating or them splitting up. It's a very emotional relationship between two women who love each other through thick and thin and both them as characters and their relationship is just so inspiring. But yes I'd recommend The Fosters for queer content because you have a f/f couple at the centre of it and half of the main characters are queer which is great.

A little bit off topic, but Freeform as a network in general are really great with coming out storylines. They usually dedicate a full season to them and then afterwards it isn't pushed under the rug in the slightest but it doesn't feel like it overtakes any of their identities. In recent years we've seen Jude on The Fosters, Kat on The Bold Type and Alec on Shadowhunters all come to terms with their sexuality and be allowed to come out in their own time over a long arc, and the writers have all managed to dedicate a lot of time to it. Freeform are actually a pretty inclusive network generally and most of their shows feature a LGBTQ+ main character (the only exception currently is Alone Together), which is impressive when you compare it to other networks. I'd recommend most of their shows for younger viewers, but for something a bit more adult, Vida is currently airing and literally all of the women on the show are queer. It's wonderful and so atmospheric. There's also You Me Her which touts itself as 'TV's first polyromantic comedy' and follows a married couple who both fall for the same person and their subsequent ups and downs as a throuple. It's really charming and there's nothing like it on TV. We could be here all day with me recommending TV shows with queer characters, but if you haven't watched Killing Eve yet then please do!

Patrycja: One of my all time favourite ships is Sanvers. Alex and Maggie from Supergirl became an extremely powerful couple and extremely strong characters who a lot of people saw themselves in and related to even though they did not get the screen time or storylines they deserved. The first LGBTQ+ couple that I watched on TV was Emily and Alison from Pretty Little Liars. It did take them a very long time to get together but both characters were actually handled very well and so was their relationship in the end.

 Another one of my favourites are Kate and Rana from a British Soap called Coronation Street. Their story is a very important one as it highlights the issues that Muslim people face when coming out through Rana who struggled to come to terms with her sexuality and tell her Muslim parents who, after they found out, tried to ship her off to Pakistan in order to hide her sexuality. A more recent couple which I have fallen in love with is Kat and Adena from The Bold Type. I have so far never seen a lesbian couple be handled as well as Kadena has been. They have gotten the storylines and screen time they deserve and I cannot wait to watch more of them.

Laura: My answer for this is almost always House and Wilson, as they are my most favourite ship of all time, but I do realize not everyone has actually watched the show with the knowledge of them that I have. So I will have to choose to spotlight some other fantastic ships and characters this time.

I'm honestly shocked Abi didn't mention them, but I am glad I get to talk about them; David and Patrick from Schitt's Creek are seriously the greatest relationship I've seen depicted on TV in 2018, and in most recent times. David, openly Pansexual, not afraid to be flamboyant and overly expressive and emotional, but with such a big heart that he immediately caught Patrick's eye. Oh Patrick, this sweet baby gay. Trying to separate from an engagement to a woman he could never possibly love, he falls head over heels for David literally any time he does anything. They serenade each other, they have serious heart to hearts when they need them, there's no cheating, there's no threesome (though David kind of had one earlier in the show but it doesn't count here), everything about their dynamic screams healthiness. Dan Levy and the case are such wonderful human beings and they're even coming to Toronto's pride parade (I will be there too wink). More recently, GOB Bluth on Arrested Development is like the one thing that show is getting right. And Ben Stiller came by for a bit to help save that mess of a half season. The second half has A LOT of heavy lifting to do if they're gonna keep me as a viewer.

 I can't believe it took me this long to mention Holt and Kevin, my actual dads. If you don't know where they're from, we can't be friends. But yeah, they're such a great couple, even if they lack any physicality, though I can look the other way because they're not exactly the PDA type. They're so similar and different all at once, their personalities compliment each other's perfectly, they have squabbles just like them hets on TV and there is never any big deal made that they're two men sharing that marriage. NBC, please, keep your good will with Marc Evan Jackson and let him come back to this world.

Rapid fire other answers: everything Elena and Syd (ODAAT), Rosa Diaz (y'all already know), Rhea and Cameron (Take My Wife, though they're also married IRL which helps), Ruby and Sapphire & Pearl (Steven Universe, that show never fails to impress me), David and Keith (Six Feet Under), Nomi and Amanita (Sense8), pretty much all of the characters from Looking except for Kevin, he can choke, Mac McDonald (IASIP), 13 (House), Lionel (Dear White People), and I admired Alex Danvers' story too.

Ami: Right off the bat, I have to say it - Greg Berlanti's work on Love, Simon had me crying tears of joy for WEEKS. Becky Albertalli already did a perfect representation of what it is like to grow up closeted in high school, but Berlanti took that perfection and translated it onto the big screen just as well, and I couldn't have been more happy with a book-to-screen adaptation. Besides the actors and the plot and everything, the actual representation was so accurate and true to reality that I sobbed through the whole movie.

There are, of course, some highly commended areas as well as Love, Simon. Shadowhunters of course has tackled LGBTQ+ characters very well (Magnus, Alec, Raphael, Ollie, basically anyone who is immortal in that show is pan!). Brooklyn 99 dealt with bisexuality so well I cried (I'm a very emotional person!) (I cant believe I sold my soul to get Rosa Diaz a girlfriend AND IT WORKED). Clexa was a guilty pleasure of mine (I only watched it for them whoops) and Bill Potts is my favourite companion on Doctor Who (SPACE GAYS!). Anytime Elena from One Day At A Time speaks or moves, I want to marry her, and of course anything done by KindaTV is very gay and I love it soooooooooo much. Those are just some of the ones I love off the top of my head!

Joey: I really enjoyed the White Josh/Darryl relationship on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, mainly because it was, after the initial introduction, presented simply as a relationship, not as "oh look, this is two guys in a relationship." They went through very real issues that any couple would go through, and it was just casually a thing the whole time without being treated as this unusual thing. It was especially great because it was two men and not two women.

There are a lot more casually treated lesbian relationships than there are gay relationships (from what I've seen), and I personally think it's because fewer people are shocked or turned off of something that has two females together rather than two males. I've been in many situations where guys watching a show will cheer when they find out two girls are together, but those same men throw fits when they see two men together or, heaven forbid, kissing on a show. So, bringing it back to the point, it was nice to see two men in a relationship without people treating it like a big deal.

With the good of course comes the bad. Are there any networks or shows that you feel have missed the mark and how do you think they can recover?

Yon: The CW, a billion times The CW. Their writers like to proclaim that they're a Network full of diversity, but they're really not. In the pilot of Riverdale Betty & Veronica kissed for absolutely no reason. Kevin is basically the token gay because he doesn't actually do anything or have more than 10 seconds of screen time. The producers cottoned onto how popular Cheryl/Toni were and promote them, but cut their scenes left, right and center.

Then there's of course how everything played out with Supergirl. They got Floriana Lima on board last year as Maggie and paired her up with Alex which was nice enough. But they hardly got any screen time as a couple, nor as individuals. Big episodes that were supposed to feature big moments for them barely had 5 minutes of screen time dedicated to them. Then they act surprised that Floriana walked away from the show due to her unhappiness at how her character was portrayed and level of development, and when they know she's leaving? They still have Alex & Maggie get engaged only to then break up because apparently having kids is a massive deal breaker for Alex even if it was never mentioned before. And now that Maggie has gone, Alex most weeks is nothing but a babysitter.

Some may like where her character has gone this year and that's their prerogative, but I personally don't see anything bad ass in Alex spending most of the episodes more or less chained to Ruby's side and away from all the action. I would've preferred if she and Maggie had broken up over something far more realistic than a sudden desire to have kids, the show had spent more than a couple of episodes focusing on her devastation at the break-up and had Alex continue to be involved in the action like she was back in the 1st season. There are of course more examples of The CW's crappiness which I'm not going to go into, and not one Network is completely faultless as they all have issues.

Lucifer was supposed to have two pansexual characters in Maze & Lucifer, but the show only ever really showed them in m/f pairings. If things are to get better equal amounts of romantic screen time need to be given to LGBT parings, they deserve more than 5 minutes of character development every 5 episodes, not have their sexuality define them or only appear sporadically. Wynonna Earp's treatment of Waverly & Nicole has also been quite questionable. I know WayHaught have become a moderately sized fandom, but I can never forget the show comes from the brains of Emily Andras who gave us the messy af Lost Girl.

Waverly's sexuality has never really been concretely addressed on Wynonna Earp. That relationship just started with Nicole having a thing for her, Waverly having a boyfriend, Waverly breaking up with said boyfriend and next thing we know! She's head over heels for Nicole. She doesn't really have any character development or agency outside of Waverly. Emily loves to big up the relationship and proclaim they're the gayest relationship of all time. but you don't just skip past the main meal to eat desert. Season 2 we had gooverly who was intimate with Nicole, so right there is the issue of consent in the relationship, which the show extremely badly attempted to deal with. Nicole had a secret wife, Waverly kissed another woman and in an alternate universe ep, she's happily loved up with another guy until she realizes she might be gay. The actresses on the show might be well and good (and basically the reason I keep watching) but the terrible handling of story-lines is, well terrible.

Nirat: Empire sort of lost it with Jamal’s storyline in S2, it was amongst the plethora of reasons I dropped that show. Riverdale needs so much help with Kevin, if they can spend so much time with Hiram eyeing Archie in so many episodes we can have proper gay males eyeing each other in a storyline where they do more than help others. There are others I’m forgetting right now but you know it’s a problem when people come to shows for LGBT characters and then stop watching when they get poor representation, people want to be seen.

Jamie: It's difficult for me to say which channel is doing well and which isn't because I tend to watch more shows of certain networks than I do of others. The CW has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to LGBT characters, rightfully so but I'm not sure how much say a network has in what the writers of a specific show do with their characters. For me, it's up to the writers to do better. And the networks should encourage them to do better. So I'm not going to say that there's one terrible network and the rest is doing okay. They all need to do better. Right now, if I had to grade them, I'd fail them all.

Abi: It aired a few seasons ago, but The Real O'Neals majorly misstepped in their second season with some of their 'jokes' and biphobic tone. It was cancelled after that season (poor ratings, but the backlash probably didn't help) but it still makes me angry even now.

Currently though, I'm honestly a little disappointed with Will & Grace. For years they've baited that Karen is a bisexual character, and yet will they ever let her come out properly or have it not played for jokes? I'm thinking it's unlikely. If they could actually give her a proper female love interest, even if it's just for an episode, I might be a little bit more satisfied. I also agree with Samantha with Lucifer in that it's one of those things that was said and never shown. There's still very much a disconnect between how straight couples are portrayed compared to anything that isn't a cis m/f couple on all network shows really. Where are the trans main characters on network TV? I acknowledge progress has been made this century but there's still a lot of work to do.

Patrycja: Hands down the CW with Supergirl. Floriana Lima's character Maggie Sawyer was only used as a way for Chyler Leigh's character Alex to come out. Neither of the characters got the screen time or storylines that they deserved and that the fans deserved. Episodes which were meant to feature big moments for the couple only had about 5 minutes of them in them. Then the writers and network pretended to be shocked when Floriana Lima announced that she was leaving.

At the Ultimates convention it was also revealed by Chyler Leigh that a very large percentage of the scenes they filmed never made it into the episodes. The couple become so strong and powerful in the community, so many people saw themselves in Maggie and Alex and the struggles they faced coming out so it was heartbreaking to watch them get engaged only for that to 5 episodes later be broken because of Alex's sudden (and very unrealistic) need to have kids. The only way that they can redeem themselves is to bring back Floriana and give her character the storylines and screen time she deserves to have. Chyler Leigh's character has now been doing nothing but babysit a teenage girl. I want back the badass agent who fell in love with a badass detective. The fans deserve to have that back and so do the actresses who truly care about the characters and their storylines.

Laura: Oh, this question. I don't think people on this site want to see me continue to beat a dead horse, so I'll try and get this over with ASAP. What The Good Place is doing with Eleanor (and Tahani) f*cking sucks. Schur has given further interviews about this topic and it made me feel sick. Straight men just don't understand why these issues are important and how delicately some of them need to be if they're going to try to incorporate sapphic stories. There's also the notion of the fact that all of this is literally played for laughs and only for laughs, and each of Eleanor's quips is to sexualize women, furthering the already established stereotype of sexualizing sapphic relationships. Ugh.

There's also the issue of what Please Like Me did to Josh and Arnold in the last season. I am going to be forever bitter about this one, especially since I talked to Josh Thomas on Reddit about this and he gave me the answer I almost always see when it comes to why couples break up on a show. I always found that Jarnold acted just like Coliver did, and that's not a good thing. HTGAWM wants to have it both ways with representation and it's literally a coin toss to see if it works.

Everyone else already mentioned The CW but I'm going to quickly mention how Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has disappointed me as of late. They did an amazing thing with Darryl's coming out, and his relationship with White Josh. Then they started going the Coliver/Jarnold way of not communicating properly with one another, and then they did the Sanvers thing of throwing in some dumb baby-crazy plot that was never hinted at before. And then there was Valencia, which I mostly enjoyed what they did there, but some fans were clamoring for a bit more from that story and I am one of them. Oh, there's also the fact that I want to write a thinkpiece of sorts about how every other character on that show is actually bisexual, but I might do it one day so I'll leave that as a surprise.

Rapid fire others: Wynonna Earp (many problems with Waverly's wishy-washy story and the cheating and secret wife? Yikes!), Abi already mentioned the wasted potential that was TRO'N, nobody needs to bring up Modern Family in 2018 but I did it anyway, already said Kevin from Looking, and I'm very sad about Pam and Ray from Archer not getting the love they deserve.

There's also a certain show that has five letters in its name that has royally pissed me off in this department; I dare not speak its name.

Ami: Can I say Riverdale? I'm going to say Riverdale. I, to be blatantly honest, spent a lot of my life not really knowing what queer-baiting was, until Riverdale came around Its.... a hot mess. The CW drama too, including one particular couple from a particular superhero show. That's not even a hot mess, it's just a mess, period. What can they do to fix it? Wipe our brains and rewrite the entire show.

Joey: The only times I've really seen this as an issue for me is when they have an LGBTQ+ character who's only story is that they are an LGBTQ+ character, as if that's the only identity they have and no other problems exist. It's a gross mishandling of the character and the cause, and I wish I could think of a specific example right now but I can't. Nothing else has really bothered me much.

I know everyone threw a fit about Lexa on The 100, but that wasn't so much an issue for me. The creators wanted an emotional story for Clarke, so they made one, and she happened to fall for Lexa who happened to die. The story needed a loss for Clarke, and it was unfortunately Lexa because that's who Clarke fell in love with. It was only an issue because of how underrepresented the LGBTQ+ community is, which is not the fault of the writers and producers. They are responsible for their show and the story they want to tell, which happened to have this very tragic moment. LGBTQ+ people die just as much as everyone else, and deciding not to kill a character whose death would have a major impact on the story just because they are an LGBTQ+ character wouldn't truly be treating the community equally.

Besides romance, there are a plethora of issues that the LGBTQ+ community face, but very few are told. What are some of the issues you’d like to see being discussed on television?

Nirat: Can I have a show with a character that doesn’t have a storyline involving their coming out etc, I think it’s important and I understand why people want this but network TV is rinsing and repeating the same narrative. Rise, which NBC recently cancelled, literally did this, they had the gay character struggle with his sexuality, date a girl, even nearly have him sleep with her or whatever that was until he realizes who he is. It sucks it hurts the girl and like can we be done with that now, can we be done hurting the other person because someone is hiding themselves, not everyone does that.

How about a gay character who won’t do that to prevent their truth from being taken from them or are people that desperate because I feel TV puts way to much emphasis on sex defining a character. Why can’t characters also have gay friends who they are just friends with, ones who support and love each other but it never has them eventually hooking up, is it impossible for this?

Can we also have proud and openly gay characters like Stef and Lena? It’d give others hope and strength that that life is open to them. What’s TV’s obsession with cheating? Biphobia needs to be addressed with both bisexual females and males. Too much confusion is happening there, I hope Grown-ish continues to tackle that and I think more shows should, bi characters are more than just a score or an experimentation, I think they should be seen and their voice shut down all the ignorance.

I think POC LGBT stories need to be seen, HTGAWM had a great line about this and how white gay characters aren’t always interested in POC and it’s a sad reality for some but lets tackle it, explore it more, can other POC gay characters be happy on TV, can we even see them?  I think asexuality and being pansexual would also be eye-opening, it’s so unheard of yet in the media it’s there. I think it’s incredibly important to not just see gay white characters on screen, not to say their story isn’t important but people of color who happen to be LGBTQ are often shunned and abused by society and theres become a romanticization and fetishization over gay white couples yet the same admiration and obsession isn’t translated to other people in the same community. I always wonder what about the other people of our wide world, they have no one to see themselves in, a white gay person doesn’t have the same struggles a African, Asian, Latino etc person has. Often people of other ethnicities have shame and toxic masculinity embedded in those societies.

I’m not saying no white person hasn’t faced this struggle, I’m sure they might but to the degree of someone who is marginalized because of the color of their skin and further because of their sexuality, I’m not sure. One of the rare times I saw South Asian gay representation was through Netflix’s Queer Eye in Tan France, he’s British Pakistani and South Asian representation and Asian representation is so poor. People assume whenever a shy, awkward and timid Asian character is onscreen they are gay and that’s because of all the jokes TV lets occur to those characters. Tony from 13 Reasons Why is a great showcase of a strong Latino character who happens to be gay. I think more ethnicities need to be showcased who are LGBTQ.

Jamie: I would love to see more stories involving asexual characters. I've watched more shows than I can count and yet I can only name 1(!) asexual character, and they didn't even use the term. That's god awful. 1% of the world's population is asexual, I'd really like to see that represented on TV.

Aside from that I would really like to see a show delve into the difference between romantic and sexual attraction and the fact that those aren't always equal for everyone. And I'd also love to see a character on TV that's gender fluid. I've come across a few gender fluid characters in YA lit lately but on TV, nothing.

Abi: Trans and non-binary people on TV having romantic relationships! They're so underrepresented and when they are shown, it's very rarely as a person who could ever be considered as a romantic interest which is awful. There are still a lot of damaging ideas around trans people and I would love there to be a character or TV show that attempts to change views. I'd also love more pansexual and asexual representation on TV because it's something we rarely see as well.

Patrycja: After seeing Rana's struggle in Coronation Street it is definitely something I would love to see more of because it's not something I have personally seen on TV so far. Many LGBTQ+ people
face struggles with coming out in very strict religious families and communities so it needs to be talked about much, much more. I think that seeing more trans and non-binary people in relationships is also very important as they are very, very underrepresented on TV right now.

Laura: All already said, but trans, non-binary, agender, genderfluid, etc. - they all need to exist a lot more on TV. I know very few asexual and pansexual characters too. And if they could live to the end of their series' if they ever do get created, that would be nice too.

Ami: The common denominator in all LGTBQ+-related plots seems to be some kind of 'coming out'. These characters struggle to accept their sexuality, or trying to keep their feelings hidden, or struggling to date, etc. Even Rosa Diaz, who I love very much, had a plot point of struggling to come out to her parents. And while that's one of the biggest issues the LGTBQ+ community face, it's been overdone.

I want to see other sexualities be dealt with, not just the main ones. I want non-binary and genderfluid characters to be normalised. I want more knowledge to other sexualities, like pansexuality and asexuality. The warlocks in Shadowhunters talk freely and all the time about their long line of ex-partners, and the gender/species never mattered, only their heart. And having identifying myself as asexual and biromantic, having my favourite show not only have gay characters (like Ollie, Aline and Alec), but also have an ace vampire and a bi warlock really warms my heart, and is obviously so important. There's more to being gay than just coming out.

Joey: I think it would be nice to see more LGBTQ+ characters trying to navigate the dating world. There's been so many times I've watched a girl go up to a girl at a restaurant or a guy go up to a guy at store and ask them out and they always just happen to play for the same team and everything is great. But how often does that happen? Most plots involving single LGBTQ+ characters follow them meeting person after person and every single time they aren't straight. The odds of that are so low, I feel. This would also be a wonderful way to show straight people that someone of the same sex hitting on them doesn't need to be met with hatred or violence, or even offense. It's okay to be polite, in fact it's encouraged in all decent humans!

While there has been an increase in queer representation on television, most of these acclaimed characters are played by cis heterosexuals over queer/nonbinary actors. How important is it for queer characters to be played by queer actors?

Yon: For me personally having a queer character played by a queer actor isn't that important. It can be extremely difficult to admit your sexuality so I wouldn't want actors feeling pressurized to admit what they are so that they can get a role. There's also the worry of being stereotyped as some actors are, playing the flamboyant, larger than life, comic relief character most of the time which is deeply insulting. However whilst saying that, I do think it is important if you're casting an LGBT character, to at least give the opportunity to an LGBT actor to play them ahead of heterosexual ones.

Nirat: I think above all trans-woman should only play trans-woman. I feel too much pressure is put on the community because a seemly normal straight male takes on that role or even a gay male. The pressure is immense to look like them when the truth is not everyone has the access to look like that. Media only wants to showcase a transwoman who looks like what other woman on screen are and that's unfair. I think trans roles are the ones that deserve the most respect, that is the most personal journey being shown on screen in the LGBT spectrum in my opinion, you may hate me for this but there are so much hate and discrimination in our world, anyone can play a gay character and get away with it, not many changes between the two but a trans character, it’s a physical transformation. Trans-actors already have such few roles they can go for, why limit those.

Cis males have more opportunities than them and their bodies will never be as fetishized as trans. They should be given the opportunity to show their truth. Pose did it, if you say you can’t find anyone, it’s a lie. Above all, let LGBT have the opportunity to audition. If straight people can play gay roles why is it that Hollywood is so quick to deny the same to gay actors, I understand they want that strong, manly type but that’s not all men are.

Jamie: While I don't find it that important that a queer character is played by a queer actor, I do think the storylines should be written, or at least co-written by queer writers. Honestly, just look at the storylines cisgender straight males come up with for gay women. Yikes. When it comes to transgender characters, I think an effort should be made to cast actual transgender actors.

Abi: Honestly for me, it's not overly important. Trans characters 100% need to be portrayed by trans people, but when it comes to queer characters then as long as the actors are comfortable with what they're portraying and they seem believable in the roles then I'll be able to buy it. What's more important to me is the writing. If they have the best actor for that character and they happen to be straight, it'll still work as long as the writing is good, and sometimes it's just evident that straight people cannot write what they don't know or haven't experienced. I'd rather not see people I identify with be marginalised or brutalised just because of who they are like I've had to witness many times before in the media. All writers should be required to do research or have a queer writer on staff to help.

Patrycja: Personally for me it isn't that important. I'd love to see more of it but it's the representation that matters and if the actors and writers are doing the LGBTQ+ characters justice I'm fine with the actors not being LGBTQ+. But I would love to see more storylines be written by LGBTQ+ writers because they understand the struggles of the community a little bit more. But I would like to see more trans actors be cast as trans characters.

It's much less important when we're dealing with the sexuality side of queer issues, but when we talk about gender identity it is CRUCIAL for the actors portraying these characters to nail the authenticity. Sometimes lives are literally on the line as these kinds of people are so rarely shown on screen and it's so hard for people to find something to relate to. Everything I mentioned in #3 and more need to explode in the media. And we especially need more of them in writers' rooms and behind the camera!!!

Ami: Having straight, white actors play queer and non-binary character is so damaging long term. Mainly, because that role then becomes just a part of that actor's rep. Sexualities and identities just eventually become a role to play, a few words on a script, and nothing more. Actors can get to set, take these characters on, then wipe it away and never remember again.

 Meanwhile there's actual people struggling day to day with stuff like this, and there's people who aren't struggling per se but still deal with these. Not only is it tough for queer actors already who aren't closeted to get roles, but to have the very few roles written by Hollywood for us taken by straight actors is just the absolute worst. It's Hollywood's (not so) subtle way of getting rid of every actor who isn't white, straight, skinny and perfect. I should have real life people to look up to and who inspire me just like every other queer kid, not just words and names on paper. How important is it? Very.

Joey: I think it doesn't matter, as long as everyone gets equal consideration in the casting process. Just as an example, if a straight man turns out to be better at portraying this character that happens to be gay than an actual gay man, the straight man should get the part. The better actor shouldn't miss out on the part simply because he doesn't date men in his personal life.

Looking towards the future, what are some of the things you’d like to see?

Yon: It sounds like a pretty simply answer, but TV wise, LGBT characters treated in the same way that straight characters are. The same type of sex scenes that straight characters get. The same type of development that straight characters get. Not being on a show just for the sake of ticking a diversity box. There are unfortunately still a large number of people in the world who are homophobic, and I really feel as though the only way something can be normalized is if we treat it like a normalized thing. Granted we have come some way from how things used to be, because these days if complaints are made to watchdogs over LGBT content, they they tend to take it with a pinch of salt. Take more risks with characters and don't be afraid to shake things up.

And another point that I almost forgot to bring up, but it's something I reiterate quite a bit whenever this subject comes up; if we as an LGBT community want better, we have to demand better. Showrunners are always going to give themselves a pat on the back for doing the bare minimum. If we want more than 20 seconds of screen time every 10 episodes, then we have to stop gushing over those 20 seconds and demand that they give us more screen time for character development and relationships to progress. It's alright when an LGBT character is killed off or written out to condemn the actions with 20 think pieces in a week, but that pressure needs to be sustained, because otherwise TPTB think they can just weather the storm and move on.

Nirat: I would love to see more Love, Simon storylines. I want happiness for LGBT characters, more POC LGBT characters, and basically everything I’ve rambled in my previous answers. Sorry, it’s so long but everyone deserves to be seen. It's sad that with the limited representation people have to go to web series, international shows etc and not that they should be ignored, they shouldn't, they are amazing but it's a shame thats what people are resorting to because networks can't cater for them. Everyone can do better, in life, in tv and in movies.

Jamie: What I'd like to see is MORE of every LGBT+ aspect. More storylines, more characters, more relationships, ... The world isn't 99% cisgender straight en 1% LGBT+. TV shows should reflect this. A show that doesn't have any LGBT+ characters isn't realistic. And I'd also like to see actors be more respectful of certain f/f or m/m ships. Just because a certain character has only been in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, doesn't mean it's absolutely impossible they could ever feel something for someone of the same sex. Sexuality isn't black and white, it's fluid. Stop making fans feel bad for shipping certain pairings, stop telling them they're crazy and desperate. We're only looking for decent representation in the shows we love.

Abi: More in general. More lesbians on TV (who don't end up dying), more gay men on TV, more bisexuals who aren't demonized/villainous, more trans characters, more of everything. I just want to see characters who aren't stereotypical and generic and are clearly more than their sexuality/gender identity, and who aren't poorly written and shoehorned in to fill some kind of diversity quota. I want LGBTQ+ characters to be happy on screen more often than not, which sadly still isn't the case.

Patrycja: Just more. I want to see gay characters who don't die in the end, who aren't stereotypical, more bisexual characters (especially bisexual men), more trans characters, more non-binary characters and more characters who struggle to find a label for themselves. Just more of everything. But also for these characters to be treated the same as straight characters.

Laura: mean, I wrote an essay on the history of LGBTQ+ rep. on TV, so I wouldn't necessarily call myself an expert, but I do think I have a solid grasp on what really needs to be fixed if we're ever going to move forward as a people. I'll quote the last paragraph of my essay, because I kind of liked it:

"If we have any hopes of shifting the dynamic and shaping the minds of everyone on the planet, we need to do better. And though this is a blanket statement that is so easily thrown out without much effort actually put in to make the change, I mean it when I say it. It’s not just a phrase (or a phase) to me. Dina Eng once said, “Getting positive images of gays and lesbians on the air depends on the willingness of TV executives to stand up for such shows.” If this is to be the case, then, I can honestly say I long for the days when I am running my own network and shows featuring people from all walks of life are welcomed!"

The tropes need to stop. We need newer, better, more positive tropes. More unique and original examples. Fresh faces and voices to burst onto the scene. We must.

Ami: I'd love to see more asexuality and aromance on screen. We've reached the point in society where everyone knows what LGBT stands for, and that's awesome. But not everyone knows that the whole acronym is actually LGBTQIA+, so there's stil some work there. Making a vampire (who was straight in the books) come out as asexual, and having that conversation actually on-screen, was a very nice move by Shadowhunters, but I definitely want more. I want more, to the point where it's completely normalized. Where having a character be gay isnt used as a shocking plot twist, or being the only interesting aspect about them. I dont want gay characters dying to be the norm, or having one character briefly like the same sex, and then have the writers quickly remind the audience that 'oh no, they're totally straight, its canon'. We want the same cliche but lovable TV troupes that any other couple on-screen gets. We want the same development that any other character goes through. Rosa Diaz is not just bi. She's the kick-ass, non-crap-taking, badass, intelligent, multi-talented detective from the 99, who also just so happens to be bi. Take a note, writers: A sexuality does not count as a character's personality trait!

Jamie: I would love to see more LGBTQ+ characters/relationships just existing rather than being major plot points. CBS is actually doing a decent job with this in Instinct right now. Don't get me wrong, I'm saying that it's a good show by any means, but Alan Cummings's character's story line is all about him helping catch criminals, and at the end of the day he goes home to his husband who owns a bar. Nobody makes a big deal about them, they just are. Dylan Reinhart isn't treated as a gay man who fights crime, he's treated as a man who fights crime and just so happens to like men. The normalization of these relationships is what we need more of.

That's all for this week's edition of STV's WRT! Let us know some of your thoughts and opinions in the comments down below!
From all of us at STV, Happy Pride Month!

Jaz SchooneThu Jan 11 at 4:20am