Our discussion for this week centered on the LGBTQ community in the media through the eyes of urban New York city residents. We chose to examine the different themes that we often find arising in these representations. First, A video by a Youtube channel known as “The Peculiar Kind” paved the by showing that there are not enough representations in the media. In this episode, their video titled “Queers in the Media” asks the participants to list as many queers of color in the media as possible. Name such as Wanda Sykes were listed but it is obvious that those interviewed experience difficulty naming “openly gay” people in the media. [youtube yyijsMScdxk]
[youtube 09zgt6-f_b4] With this pondered, we unintentionally found ourselves listing the different forms of LGBTQ media we have been exposed to. We discussed a movie, Gun Hill Road, which is about a man who gets freed from jail and discovers that his son is transsexual. I live a few blocks from Gun Hill Road(the actual place in the Bronx) and each one of us knew exactly where Gun Hill Road is, including a few friends who chose to seat in on our meeting. So, it safe to say we did find something close to home. Another movie which we spoke about was Pariah: [youtube NwYtHVlQN9c] Through these two movies, the idea of the role of family and collectivism on developing one’s gay identity is obvious. Like in the activity and discussions we had in class, family often plays a role in whether or not one decides to make visible their identity as a member of the LGBTQ community. This is an idea that myself and my fellow group members are familiar with. The idea of how one will be viewed, what will be imposed on an individual and the feelings that will be arise in the process.
An idea which Kim was quick to mention was that of where a selective acceptance of people who identify as homosexual, bisexual, transsexual or queer. Although there might still be a stigma associated, it is more acceptable to embrace one’s sexuality in music videos, as comedians. Whereas, on a day to day basis, acceptance is not always guaranteed. From taking the subway, to riding the buses, it is clear that it is more acceptable on television than it is in the real world.
[youtube 5d-FTRSUfyU] So, every urban New York teenager is no stranger to the Maury Show, at least according to our group consensus. Initially filmed in the Bronx, the Maury show seems to be one of pure entertainment. However, once in a while, there is a segment in which cisgendered(Important vocab not: an individual who is assigned a sex and gender identity at birth and grows up to personally identify as that identity) and transgendered individuals are placed in front of an audience. The audience then has to determine who is a “naturally” born male/female versus who is transsexual. This is evidence that sex is not always so clear cut. And although the Maury Show’s motive might be that or pure entertainment, it can be used as a means of providing evidence for our “Gender Bending in Paradise” reading and class exercise. However, something I found quite amusing and contradictory in this case is that these individuals, for the brief moment they are revealing their “born identity” are identifying as something they personally do not identify as(in the case that the person is transsexual). This goes back to Judith Butler’s opinion on performances and how often times, in the process of trying to break down a structural idea, we simultaneously strengthen it.
[youtube h1X5R0sbUOc] A feel good story ensues on The Jerry Spring Show. Boy meets girls, girl accepts MySpace friend request. Boy and girl talk, emotions develop. Boy wants to meet girl, girl wants to meet boy. Girl is actually a male born transsexual. Girl, due to her feelings agrees to meet boy…with one catch. The meeting has to happen on the Jerry Springer Show. Boy is brought on stage first, confesses his love for the girl, after exiting the stage, the girl is brought onto the stage. Boy returns, girls confesses to be transsexual. Boy is obviously taken aback. But then the unexpected happens. “I’ll try anything once” says boy, a kiss is exchanged. The audience goes crazy. Media, you are doing it right this time(Dear reader: insert witty meme here). Having come across this video a few days before, I thought it necessary to share with my group members. As though we weren’t already loud enough, a loud surprised “whoaaa” followed by laughter resounded through the NorthStar Café. Not only this, obvious excitement was visible on my fellow Café Discussion Group Members and our friends’ faces. Although we cannot speak for everyone else, this reaction was due to a lack of presence of videos such as this in the media we are exposed to.
One again, another fascinating eye opening café discussion.