Anyone who’s watched TV, movies and/or plays/musicals and paid attention knows there’s an issue with parity in entertainment, especially when looking at how many LGBTQ and female characters exist in leading roles. That’s not really the worst part of the situation though; what’s more troubling than the lack of leading roles is how these two groups are portrayed. Often women are portrayed as submissive and, if they ARE a strong lead, most often they are portrayed in a way that makes them seem…well…like total bitches (though it is definitely improving lately).
It’s worse for those in the LGBTQ group. Too often we are viewed as stereotypes–men dressed in “womens” clothes, flamboyant gay men–and as comic relief, as comedic tropes. Rare glimpses are still the normal, however. As things are improving for representation and diversity in Hollywood, too often the standard tropes and stereotypes continue to be used, because they are easy to use.
Admittedly, queer people like me are–FINALLY!–starting to be recognized. Transgender actors are hitting the mainstream. Pose, Transparent. These are the shows we need in order to boost our profiles. Some TV shows and movies have had prominent Trans/GNC (T/GNC) characters, Orange is the New Black is one such show. The Conners has a gender nonconforming character too. The character, a young boy, wears a dress and likes boys. In this case, the gender nonconforming character is a child, and my guess is that the writers will have them “grow out of that phase” rather than embracing the beauty of being ones self. This is the predicament we face in the LGBTQ community when it comes to parity, to adequate and proper representation on TV, in movies and on stage.
Then there are those working on increasing queer visibility. Pooya Mohseni is fundraising for her Transit: A New York City Fairy Tale. Gabriel Furman and and his crew are shopping around a gem of a show about a GNC child; it’s titled Wonder. Neil Patrick Harris did Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
All this is an uphill battle. As you might have gathered, there is a profound lack of Trans/GNC characters on Broadway. While shows like Southern Comfort, Red Emma and the Mad Monk, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and a few others all have a focused main character who’s T/GNC, these aren’t Broadway. They are off-off- and off-Broadway. Granted, Hedwig made it to Broadway briefly…but it took 16 years to do that. It opened on off-Broadway in 1998, and was revolutionary. It didn’t parody the T/GNC community; it showed them (us) as persons dealing with unique issues. It was revived in 2014 on Broadway. During its run, it won and was nominated for several awards…yet, it was the last high profile play or musical featuring a T/GNC character.
But the times do seem to be changing. There is an increase in movement towards and desire to bring more T/GNC voices and characters to the stage and film.
So that’s good.
But we need more. Thankfully there are advocates like Pooya, Parity Productions, Shakina Nayfack and a growing cast of other diversity advocates in show business who are pushing for equity and parity within the entertainment industry.
I hope we will soon see an exponential increase in work that tells our stories.
If you’re a manager, producer, agent or director interested in reading my work with primary LGBTQ, specifically T/GNC, characters, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll talk. 🙂