When the topic LGBT is being addressed, there’s usually a lot of focus on accepting LGBT people and a lot of time is being spent on talking about the negative aspects/stories. For instance, tv shows talk about the bad experiences people have had, interview people who’ve been victimized, in which countries gay marriage is illegal, where being gay is illegal and so on. What they’re trying to achieve by that is acceptance, of course. And it’s good that there’s attention for this all because those are all terrible things and need to go. Only, I don’t think that’s the right way to achieve acceptance. I’m not saying that we should stop focusing attention on all the negative aspects. You can’t ignore the negative things and it would be stupid to do so. However, I do think that talking about it in such a manner adds to the exclusion. It’s being portrayed as something special and it partly adds to the fact that it’s ‘abnormal’. And unfortunately, in the eyes of many people it still is abnormal, which is what should be changed.
In my eyes it would be more effective to make people, to make ‘the world’, more familiar with LGBTs, but not by talking about it. Showing more LGBT couples in for example tv commercials is something that could possibly work. But not only advertisements, also in films, series and music videos. One vital thing is that it has to be very subtle. The advertisement, film, music video or series shouldn’t only revolve around the LGBT couple. When it’s a romantic comedy about a gay couple, then yes of course it revolves around them, but that’s how it is in every romantic comedy about a straight couple too. I’ve actually noticed a growth of LGBT people in series and mainly in music videos so that’s not where I want to go with this. I want to get back to tv advertisements. My reason for that is because everybody watches them. Most people don’t watch music videos anymore and not everyone watches a particular series or film.
I was watching a film on tv this weekend and of course you can’t escape the all those tv timeouts. After a while I started noticing something. I can’t tell if it’s the case in more countries but there a quite a few of those food commercials portraying a happy family having dinner. What caught my attention though, is that there is always a mum and a dad. There are never two dads or two mums. If commercials would occasionally show two men or two women, I feel like it would have a huge influence. Why? Because it would partly make being LGBT normal. I think it would especially have effect on how younger generations perceive LGBT people. Those ads are being shown all over the country and basically no one can escape them. There’s this effect called the mere exposure effect: when being exposed to someone or something (meaning: seeing it often), you automatically like them or it more. I guess this probably doesn’t work when people are resented by something or someone though. Anyway, at first children don’t have schemes, attitudes or mental models of what is normal. It’s something they create throughout the years. If those mental modals include LGBT couples raising children, two men, two women being together and loving each other, then being LGBT might a positive mental model: it hopefully is perceived as being just as normal as being straight. If the younger generations start seeing it as something completely normal and equal to being straight, it might also become easier for LGBT people to accept themselves and experience less negative emotions. From my own experience, being something that’s not considered normal, the thought of possibly not being accepted and people being disgusted by me are among the things that cause negative emotions.
There is so much more to this all though, and this is probably an extremely far-fetched theory. In the end, LGBT people will always form a minority, which in a way will always make them a so-called ‘outgroup’. Furthermore, I don’t know everything about the influence of media but from what I’ve learned and experienced so far, it seems to play a big role in society and on how we perceive things. But let’s not forget about how much parents and relatives influence children (A LOT!). That would partly outnumber the influence of media seeing as norms and attitudes are hard to change if people lack motivation to change them. That’s why I wonder if minorities will ever be treated and seen as equals. I’m going to stop and leave this for what it is now. There are too many things to hold into account and I don’t have enough time to pay attention to all the little things, nor am I aware of all those things. It’s just my perspective and I’m 18, you know, I don’t know everything about everything.