One Equal World

Queer-baiting and Its Impact on The LGBT Community

Posted on: July 15, 2013

television

TV shows are frustrating the LGBT community by using “queer baiting” to gain their viewership.

The LGBT community has recently experienced a series of events riddled with politics, social change and immense poignancy, that deeply impact the quality of life and equal rights for queer-identified persons. The whole world has been watching events unfold with baited breath: the strike down of DOMA, of California’s Prop 8, of unbridled and celebratory Pride festivities taking place in cities all over our country.

Our country is engulfed in a crucial time of necessary change to ensure equal human rights for all of our citizens. There is immense momentum in the process, but for change to be realized, accountability for LGBT acceptance extends from beyond the government into our daily culture and lives. Perhaps more that ever before, media outlets, writers, and entertainers are being held accountable for their representation of LGBT folks, because it is with visibility that further change will be made possible.

The media and entertainment industries have enormous amounts of power regarding their ability to influence public opinion (think Mackelmore’s “Same Love”). One problem that the LGBT community faces within media representation of diverse characters is something called “queer-baiting.” What is queer-baiting, exactly?

According to Rebekah Bailey for Isis Magazine, queer-baiting is “the practice of television shows and movies putting in a little gay subtext, stirring up interest for queer fans, and then pulling a NO HOMO, MAN on the viewers,” shaming homosexuality in the dialogue of shows like Sherlock, and Supernatural, among others. Queer-baiting allows the guise of equal representation of gay and lesbian characters to draw in LGBT viewers, only to frustrate them with homophobic reactions to supposedly “queer” subtexts of popular television shows.

Television and film are mediums that reach enormous amounts of people; the storylines on popular television shows too often neglect to portray a realistic version of many diverse characters. Queer-baiting calls attention to the lack of media representation of queer people, promoting a heteronormative depiction of society.

Because of the strong presence that media and entertainment has in our culture, the LGBT community is holding writers, actors, and producers accountable for their portrayals of gay characters, or lack thereof. Happily, there are some shows that have openly gay and lesbian characters, which allows for all too important visibility and representation of the LGBT community in popular media.

For more insight on the impact of queer-baiting on the LGBT community and gay rights, take a look at this article.

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