LGBTQ+ issues are arguably more in the spotlight than they’ve ever been before – both for better and for worse. Shows such as “The Last of Us”, “White Lotus”, and “Heartstopper”, and movies like “Thor: Love and Thunder”, have raised the profile of LGBTQ+ people in the media, and given people much-needed representation.
While huge global progress has been made in raising awareness, growing visibility has brought with it increased hostility and resistance to change. Debate over day-to-day equal rights continues to cast a long shadow over global politics, media, and sports.
Already this year, more than 375 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, primarily targeting trans youth, have been introduced in the United States. In December, multiple European teams were banned from wearing OneLove rainbow armbands during the World Cup, while Russia expanded its ban on so-called gay propaganda to include adults. Vladimir Putin has repeatedly taken aim at LGBTQ+ people in speeches justifying the Ukraine invasion.
These are just a few examples of the scrutiny LGBTQ+ people are under, and the polarization of public opinion has made on-screen representation even more important. Every time an LGBTQ+ person appears on a person’s TV, laptop or phone screen, an opportunity is created to provide more empathy and understanding.
In this reading list, Lucy Middleton, deputy editor of the LGBTQ+ news platform Openly, highlights examples of the impact representation can have and digs into how greater visibility can bring its own challenges.