2018 saw a spike in LGBT representation in media with shows like Pose and Queer Eye. In India, Arjun Mathur and Vikrant Massey mesmerised us with their chemistry in Zoya Akhtar’s pathbreaking show, Made in Heaven.
However, LGBT representation in media wasn’t always portrayed realistically. Whenever they were given any kind of screen time, it was usually to ridicule. Remember that suggestive music every time the gay character appeared in 1998 movie, Pyaar Kia To Darna Kya? Yeah, cringe, right?
Is that the best you can do for LGBT representation in media?
On the topic of LGBT representation in media, Ankita Dash shares her story, “From movies to novels to educational institutions, everything glorifies “straightness”. Being straight is shown as default and any other orientation is shown as the exception. LGBT representation in media is important and there’s a huge lacuna of that. And because of this, I pretended to be straight for a long time and refrained from dating girls.”
During one of the interviews for her movie, Hidden Figures, (that tells the story of three African-American women who played a huge role in America’s race to space) Taraji P. Henson said, “I never thought I could dream to be a rocket scientist. When I found it was true, I was angry. I was angry because somebody stole a dream from me. They stole an option from me. They lied to me.” Henson’s heartbreaking words tell you the importance of representation in media.
This is what one respondent had to say about her stolen opportunity, “I was never told that I could be with someone from the same gender. I used to think something was wrong with me. The lack of mention of the LGBTQIA+ community makes it harder for the people to come in terms with their sexuality.”
Honestly, mental health is a very personal issue. You might try to surround yourself with people who want to help you, but the internalisation process has to be done individually. It can get lonely.
Ishita Gupta shared her experience with us, “Mental illness affects everything. Sometimes I experience breakdowns and my close friends have to deal with it. I’m lucky to have them. However, it’s difficult to find a partner who understands your mental problems. It’s an inevitable journey until they give up. So, I use sex as a coping mechanism to go through loneliness and frustration. I know it’s a distraction and it’s unhealthy. But until I get proper help, its all I’ve got.”
The importance of LGBT representation in media dawning on the Indian filmmakers. From Irrfan Khan to Fawad Khan, here’s hoping to see more mainstream actors in non-heterosexual roles.