AUTHOR: Bhoomika Chawla
(Student, Grade 11, Bhavan Vidyalaya, Chandigarh)
Over the years, media has had a miscellaneous impact on shaping people’s perception about the LGBTQ+ community. Starting with the positive effect, the internet has made a large number of people self aware and helped them discover their sexualities by broadcasting information regarding the same. It also has made some people of the society more mindful of the community. However, certain people, usually the senior citizens, have not come to terms with the aforementioned community. They still don’t believe that being queer is a thing, for them, it’s just a phase. Optimistically, the LGBTQ+ community has seen a lot of progress in the 21st century. They are now more aware of their rights and have their own voice. They are happy that they’re being reflected in the eyes of media. For them, social media is a non-judgmental zone where they find encouragement to embrace themselves. For queer youth to feel normal, they need to see, read and hear the voices of others who use the same identifying labels and by that, they find solace in their phones. Social media gave them the vocabulary and reassurance to figure out who they were. OTT platforms are also important owing to the fact that when people learn to better understand their preconception through movies or TV, their acceptance levels go up and their biases go down.
Now, the OTT platforms are important but they wound the LGBTQ+ community too. The reason is queer-baiting. Queer-baiting is a technique used by the entertainment industry to attract a queer audience into watching the show or the movie by portraying a queer character in it. It’s harmful to the community as it’s a marketing ploy more than anything. A young boy feels seen, he feels understood when he sees a gay couple in a show. He accepts himself for who he is, embraces himself and knows that he’s not alone when there are other people out there going through the same thing. Nevertheless, he becomes a victim of queer-baiting as soon as he realizes that the actors really aren’t gay in real life. He goes back to feeling alone, depressed and not comfortable in his own skin. One example of queer-baiting is Katy Perry’s song ‘I Kissed A Girl’. It was criticized by queer fans because they thought that the purpose of the song was only to gain attention.
Many shows and movies have started showing the real queer representation which has made the community pleased. The LGBTQ+ community wants their stories to be told out there because these are the stories of individuals who experience being queer in real life and they too, want to be understood and supported by the people around them. They also want to see the entertainment industry quit practicing queer-baiting and find solace in the OTT platforms too. Thus, the main role of the media should be promoting equality and giving equal representation to all the communities of the society.