October 1, 2010
BBC reports 1 in 5 “uncomfortable” with homosexuality on television
A report published by the BBC has found that 19 per cent of people feel “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” with depictions of gay, lesbian and bisexual people on television and radio. Fifty per cent say they are comfortable with the quality and quantity of portrayals.
The research, published in the report Portrayal of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People on the BBC, is based on the responses of over 1,600 survey and 500 discussion group participants as well as a public consultation featuring more than 9,400 people. The findings will shape the corporation’s activity for coming years and should lead to an increased presence of LGB characters onscreen.
In the report’s breakdown of respondents, lesbians are shown to have felt particularly strongly about the lack of gay women on television as well as tendencies to portray them as either “butch” or “lipstick lesbians”. Many referred to American series as more nuanced in their depictions. Gay men also felt that representations are too stereotypical, citing an over-emphasis on camp characters.
Age and sexuality are clear factors in respondents’ feelings towards representation. While 52 per cent of LGB respondents felt there is “too little lesbian portrayal on TV”, only 11 per cent of heterosexuals agree this is the case.
The study also found that “standout” TV and radio storylines and moments are seen as especially important to gay audiences. Eastenders and Coronation Street received praise for their prominent gay characters while Channel 4 was especially commended for a series of programming, including Queer As Folk, Sugar Rush and Skins.
Tim Davie, chairing a working group on improving coverage of the gay community, hopes the findings will lead to more “authentic and diverse” portrayals. He said, “The BBC has a responsibility to serve all our audiences as best we can. We have already begun to share the research with content teams across the BBC.” Recommendations to be passed onto the BBC Trust include the introduction of more “incidental” gay characters who are not defiend by their sexuality.
The research has been welcomed by gay equality charity Stonewall. Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said: “The BBC is a hugely important part of our cultural glue and belongs to everybody. It’s right that everyone in modern Britain should be reflected in its output.” He added, “These findings confirm those of Stonewall research in recent years which show that both gay and heterosexual licence-payers want to see more realistic, incidental representations of gay people on their TV screens.”
Summerskill was referring to Unseen on Screen, a report commissioned by the charity and published in July this year. It found the BBC’s portrayal of homosexuality to be generally negative and unrealistic. An earlier study, 2006′s Tuned Out, found that in 168 hours of BBC prime time programming there were just six minutes of positive gay portrayals.
Human rights campaigner Peter Thachell, of LGBT lobbyist group Outrage! has, however, deemed the new BBC report to be “flawed”. “The report does not adequately address complaints that the BBC gives proportionately little airtime to gay people or issues, and that its news coverage of homophobic hate crimes and gay human rights violations is often patchy. In the name of balance, the BBC too often reports extreme homophobic views, whereas it would not give a platform to similar racist or anti-Semitic opinions.” He added that the corporation is guilty of “either neglecting or sensationalising transgender people.”
The BBC launches its new lesbian drama Lip Service later this month.
Comments are closed.
Tegan and Sara interview Kate Moenning
Tegan and Sara interview Kate Moening aka Shane from the L Word. This video is also directed by Clea Du Vall. What a lovely, Lesbilicious bunch of women all crammed into one little video.
February 6, 2013