Sue Perkins calls for more realistic portrayals of gay and lesbians

Comedian and presenter Sue Perkins has called on broadcasters to give more realistic portrayals of gay and lesbian people in television. Her article in The Guardian comes after a report by the BBC into the issues which concluded gay audiences wanted less stereotypes on TV.

 

Comedian and presenter Sue Perkins has called on broadcasters to give more realistic portrayals of gay and lesbian people in television. Her article in The Guardian echo the findings of a report commissioned by the BBC on LGBT coverage. The report concluded that while coverage had improved with more visible presence of gay characters on television there was still some improvements to be made. The report concluded that bisexual and lesbian people were not well represented on television and that LGBT people wanted more realistic portrayals and less stereotypes – something Sue Perkins also calls for in The Guardian.

 

  

“In 1987, EastEnders’ Barry and Colin shared a chaste mouth-graze. In 1994, Brookside’s Beth and Margaret locked lips. Coronation Street discovered lesbians this year

 

Perkins argues in the Guardian that soaps such as EastEnders will help change people’s views of sexuality and can improve the portrayals of gay and lesbian people on television. The BBC report also concluded that such soaps have played an import part in the changing views on sexuality over the years – such as the 1992 Lesbian kiss in Brookside. More recently positive and different approaches to such storylines in Hollyoaks, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Coronation Street have all been widely praised.

. If gay history had evolved as slowly and timidly as television portrayed it, then the first drag queen would be tiptoeing out of the primordial ooze around about now.” – Sue Perkins in The Guardian

 

“Its something between the tepid sexlessness of the soaps’ queer couplings and the separatist universe of the US show The L Word, in which the characters are like something out of the Barbie Lesbian Range: the tennis pro with detachable miniskirt, the hairdresser with blow-drier,” she said.

 

For me the solution is less ‘L’ word than ‘I’ word. Issues. Gay characters are a gift because they can deliver the shock value that soap operas are hardwired to. But surely, by normalising rather than pathologising gay culture you please not only gay respondents, but the 19% of heterosexual viewers that the report reveals are still squeamish about our presence on their screens.

“When gay characters stop cat-hoarding, scatter-cushion throwing and compulsively shagging – when we’re just sitting around paying bills like Average Jos – then middle England, and the Queer Nation, will be happy.” – Sue Perkins in The Guardian

 

Channel Four was highly praised in the report for its gay focused dramas such as Sugar Rush and Queer as Folk while Skins, Shameless and Hollyoaks have all featured prominent gay and lesbian characters. In America recently a similar report concluded HBO’s vampire series True Blood had the most LGBT characters of all other dramas in America.

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