Media is inescapable no matter where one tries to hide. Even before the “digital age,” media was still prevalent in every way possible. Literature — storytelling — has been how the human race has communicated for centuries, even when television, online news, and social media were nonexistent. But now, the media reflects our society. However, the reflection that is promoted to us — on TV, on social media, in advertising — isn’t a complete picture.
Media is projected to everyone, forced down our throats to a point that is almost laughable. And, since there has been so much censorship of what is allowed to be in the media, we aren’t fully exposed to the multitudes of the human race. Children, watching heterocentric shows, reading heterocentric novels, and observing their heteronormative society, have little to no way of knowing that there is more out there than the nuclear families that they see on TV.
This is why representation is one of the most crucial things to the progression of the gay rights movement and our advancement as a society. There are so many people out there, not just queer people, who don’t get to see themselves depicted in their favorite books and films. Even in a day and age where media is ubiquitous, there are still so many underrepresented groups — and why?
An influx of media that includes or centers around queer people would be invaluable to kids and adults who have never seen themselves in the media they consume, as well as allowing some people to recognize and accept themselves for who they are. It would be a huge deal to bring queer stories to the forefront of the media and accept all different kinds of relationships as the standard, instead of just heterosexual ones.
The danger of a single story is not only that minorities are silenced, but that it causes a widespread case of myopia for the slice of the population who aren’t being exposed to people different than themselves. If we don’t support and fund this exposure, negative opinions about queer people will never change. It will always be a case of “them” versus “us.”
We’ve been doing good, but we could be doing better. Queer shows are still getting canceled after season one, books are still getting banned from stores and schools, and media is constantly being censored. These stories are repeatedly failing to be portrayed, and it’s causing an obvious barrier in the rate at which LGBTQ+ people are being accepted and accepting themselves.
All anyone wants from the media, in the end, is to see and relate to the stories that are being told. If we keep repeating this cis, straight, white narrative, we drown out voices that matter and deserve to be heard, as well as censor the large majority of humanity that doesn’t fit into those categories. Representation is an indispensable tool if we want to perpetuate an equal, empathetic, and integrated society.