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Everyone has gender identity and sexual orientation. How can media literacy help us use gender and sexual orientation information communicated by media for growth?

 Incorporate all articles and flim when answering the question

Article 1:

Reading the Romance of Fan Cultural Production Reading Notes

Ng explores the significance of fan cultural production in response to the lesbian romance between Bianca and Lena in ABC television’s All My Children. The romance began with an onscreen kiss on April 23, 2003. 

Fans created reconstructed narratives in music videos. Ng deconstructs how these videos provide more satisfying narratives than the show’s episodes and hence illustrates how fans invested in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) characters and storylines renegotiate the texts of popular media. She continues discussion of fan culture as a site of counter-hegemonic energy for queer representation.

Ng includes discussion of digitization technology and the Internet as tools that now allow fans to create their videos using readily available software, publicize these at message boards and share via YouTube.

Ng concludes her study with the claim that the viewers are motivated by the desire for more satisfying depictions of romantic love to produce fan texts like the Lianca videos speaks to the continuing inadequacies of such representations in televisual media. She illustrates how the diversity of queer imaginings around popular media can and does exist, imaginings that play with normative boundaries as these shift in both mainstream and fan cultures.

Ng adds that shows have invited fan authors to join their writing staff and that media producers are increasingly communicative with fans, especially online.


Ng, E. (2008) Reading the romance of fan cultural production: Music videos of a television lesbian couple. Popular Communication, 6, 103–121.

Article 2:

Exposure to the Lives of Lesbians and Gays Reading Notes

Read Exposure to the Lives of Lesbians and Gays, available in eReserves.

Support for the rights of lesbians and gays has increased swiftly since the early 1990s (Baunach, 2012; Brewer, 2008; Loftus, 2001). For instance, the Gallup poll found in July of 2013 that 52% of individuals in the United States would vote to legalize samesex marriage nationwide (Gallup, 2013).

Younger Americans have been much quicker to embrace gay rights than older Americans. This relative liberalism of young people on homosexuality occurs despite the general tendency of young people to have similar attitudes to prior generations on most issues (MacManus, 1996).

Many explanations have been put forward for this attitudinal shift in the mass public. Two of the most prominent explanations are

  1. Increases in interpersonal contact with lesbians and gays (Altemeyer, 2001; Dyck & Pearson-Merkowitz, 2014; Herek, 2003; Skipworth, Garner, & Dettrey, 2010).
  2. Increases in exposure to lesbians and gays through parasocial (or mediated) contact (Riggle, Ellis, & Crawford, 1996; Mazur & Emmers-Sommer, 2002; Schiappa, Gregg, & Hewes, 2006; Tucker & Potocky-Tripodi, 2006). 

Research poses two hypotheses:

  1. H1: The effect of exposure to lesbians and gays on group-based evaluations of lesbians and gays will be more powerful for younger individuals, as these group-based evaluations are more susceptible to new information in the young.
  2. H2: The effects of exposure to lesbians and gays will have an indirect effect on gay rights through group-based evaluations of lesbians and gays.

Research results show that although the two hypotheses above have assumed that groups-based evaluations involving lesbians and gays affect support for gay rights, in some contexts, gay rights support may affect general feelings involving lesbians and gays.

Those who support minority rights in general may become more supportive toward lesbians and gays when reading an article describing the advocacy work performed by gay and lesbian activists in support of anti-discrimination policies.

Garretson (2014) concludes, “these results suggest a theory as to why we tend to see cohort effects emerge on group-based rights issues—those involving women, racial minorities, and gays and lesbians—but not on attitudes on other issues such as economic or redistributive policy. Researchers looking for the causes of social change may benefit from an increased focus on change in these group-based feelings rather than focusing solely on change in support for specific policies. The effects of exposure in this study were generally larger on group-based feelings than on specific gay rights policies.”

The author discusses just how much exposure increased from the early 1990s to the late 1990s. Gay characters were almost absent on television in 1990, but became relatively common by 2000. Likewise, only one in four people knew lesbians and gays in 1985. By the late 1990s, this had increased to over one in two.

Because this study found a substantive effect of only one of the dozens of lesbian and gay fictional characters that were added to the television lineup in the mid1990s, and because interpersonal contact effects seem likely to have larger effects in magnitude than mediated contact effects, we start to see one potential mechanism as to how the observed shift in support of gay rights has been made possible, and why younger people themselves have been so much more likely to have taken part.


Garretson, Jeremiah (2014) Exposure to the lives of lesbians and gays and the origin of young people’s greater support for gay rights. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 26, 1-12.


urther Off the Straight and Narrow Film Notes

Watch Further off the Straight and Narrow (61 Minutes)

Further off the straight and narrow dvd art


Watch the film for this lesson.

Filmmaker Info and Transcript are available online.



  • Since the mid-1990s, the explosion of gay visibility on television has impacted on the fear and isolation of the past invisibility stage for gay men.
  • Howard Buford, Prime Access Inc., says presence on TV makes us real, as opposed to secondary characters who appeared and were killed off before mid-1990s.

Why did Will and Grace (1998-2006) survive? 

  • Is it perhaps the centrality of hetero relationships and contrast with Will and Jack?
  • TV moved from gay subtext to gay text.

Discussion and content analysis of ER, Dawson’s Creek, All My Children, Buffy, and OC.

  • Lesbian arc, as fashion or phase, a lesbian kiss is more popular than gay kiss, perhaps because female on female sexuality more hetero acceptable than male on male.
  • TV uses race, gender, and class codes to signal acceptability of character with class markers of queer worth, for example, My Wife and Kids (2001-2005). 
  • George Lopez shows gay character, Cheech Marin, as his possible father, with more complex humanity.

Mighty Real

Reality Television has broader latitude, than other TV genres.

  • MTV’s Real World featured gay members early, as Survivor, Sheer Dallas also did. Extreme hostility shown from homophobic characters in Wife Swap.
  • Queer Eye for the Straight Guy welcomed gay Fab Five into a straight world and gave artistic credibility to gay, if hyper-consumer culture, included in each show.
  • In the history of exclusion, gays decorate party to which they are not invited.
  • Boy Meets Boy shows the pain of the closet to straight characters’ experience of learning what it is to hide your identity.
  • What happens to straight privilege? 
  • Queerview of gay and lesbian communities?

A Piece of the Pie

  • Rise in cable channels led to offers of homocentric content as producers seek larger unmet audience needs.
  • Sex and the City included a lesbian short-lived flirtation of Samantha with Sonia Braga.

Marketability of Sexualized Media

  • Sexualizing Gay and Lesbian life in Queer As Folk (2000-2005) and The L Word.
  • HBO prison series Oz followed by Six Feet Under featured gay characters intricately woven into fabric of story.
  • Sometimes TV is brave by playing around the edges of rarely seen.
  • Early gay programming centered on the HIV/AIDS crisis.
  • VIACOM’s MTV launched LOGO gay content channel.
  • Ghettoization of gay and lesbian Culture.


  • Transgendered people are gaining media representation, often as villain in Silence of the Lambs or victim in Boys Don’t Cry.
  • Nip/Tuck character Sophia showed complexity of transgender identity.
  • The film Normal showed process of transition in context of family and community.
  • Documentaries and reality shows express glacial progress of transgendered people on TV.

Here and Queer

  • Gay visibility has improved with broader social trends of gay and lesbian inclusion in news coverage and media marketing.
  • Consequence of advertisers now more likely to feature gay and lesbian spokespersons and appeal to gay and lesbian audiences.
  • Relationship exists between images in ads and images on programming.
  • Society can no longer deny that gay and lesbian people are part of the everyday world.
  • Still met with backlash in society and in TV. Must be alert to possibility of massive retrenchment.
  • From toleration to welcome but still rarely shown in family formations.


Sender, K. (2006). Further off the straight and narrow: New gay visibility on television [Motion Pictures]. United States: MEF. 

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