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Stereotypes of Homosexuals on Prime Time Television


America has seen an increase in homosexual characters being portrayed in television shows and movies over the past few years. This increase has been said to break down stereotypes and lead to an acceptance of gay individuals. Yet, some people feel that the media portrayal of homosexuals is not an accurate representation of gay life in America. Some people feel that the flamboyant characters on popular television shows perpetuate the idea that the homosexual community is white, male and affluent. There are not many gay characters in the media that represent other ethnic groups or those of a lower-level income. Due to this, the average American homosexual is not fairly represented in the media, and stereotypes are created in the minds of viewers of what gays look and act like.

Netzhammer and Shamp state, “With great regularity, controversial social issues become conventionalized and are mainstreamed into television news, television movies, soap operas, and prime-time television series (p. 91).” Stereotypes in the media have historically fostered acceptance of controversial social roles (i.e. the changing roles of African Americans and women in society) and the use of homosexual stereotypes is no different.

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  ©2004 Susan Douglas