LGBTQ+ characters in Western film and media


Graphic courtesy of The Advocate

Queer media has been on the rise in recent years, though there is also much backlash towards them. Queerbaiting, a marketing technique when a creator of fictional entertainment suggests a LGBTQ+ romance without depicting it, has been an issue for a long time. However, as many are more open to LGBTQ+ romance on screen now, they have begun to express discomfort with it. 

Queerbaiting as a term has been brought out of context on social media. People apply the term to people who are not openly a part of the LGBTQ+ community and use it against them. Harry Styles has been accused of this many times, since he has gone solo with his music video “Lights Up” featuring feminine dressing. Netflix is also known for having many issues in their shows relating to queerbaiting. A recent incident of this is in the new show “Wednesday,” with the main character Wednesday Adams and her roommate Edin. This created a joke that if people want to be able to have a second season, they need to not talk about the potential woman-loving-woman relationship. This comes after many people have a specualtion that the two characters could have romantic interest in each other and woman-loving-woman shows are not being renewed often. The majority of Queer TV shows and movies are focused around MLM (man-loving-man) relationships. There are few TV shows and movies that are focused around WLW relationships. This is something many fans have been upset about. In the spring of 2022, two shows on Netflix were released: “Heartstopper” and “First Kill.” While “First Kill” got more streams globally than “Heartstopper,” it was canceled shortly after, while “Heartstopper” was renewed for two more seasons. Neftlix has had much controversy over this in recent years.While other streaming services have had some queer show a majority have not lasted more than two seasons.

There is also the nonexistent non-binary and transgender representation in any media. Currently, one of the only shows in mainstream media that had a transgender character played by a transgender actor is “Heartstopper.” There is also a transgender character in “The Umbrella Acadamy,” though that was a change made after the actor Elliot Page transitioned. 

There has been much backlash on actors who are playing queer characters that are not openly queer when they are portrayals of queer characters. This is true for Kit Connor: an 18-year-old actor from the Netflix show “Heartstopper’’ who said in a recent tweet “back for a minute. I’m bi. Congrats for forcing an 18-year-old to out himself. I think some of you missed the point of the show. Bye.” The show “Heartstopper” is based on a boy who was outed at school, then bullied for being gay, finding a relationship with the rugby boy who is also coming to terms with his sexuality throughout the show. This series is based on comics by Alice Oseman, who worked closely in the creation of the show to make her vision come to life. 

Books are another source of media many look to for representation. Though, unlike TV series, there is much more of a balance between WLW and MLM books that are published. However, the MLM books are more likely to go viral on popular social media platforms like “TikTok.” This then leads to these books being brought to the big screen, adding to the amount of MLM media there already is. Though it is important to have this LGBTQ+ representation in media, it is also important to have an even amount of representation among all different parts of LGBTQ+ identities.