Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Gay TV On The Go - American Studies Blog: Sexual Identity

American Studies Blog: Sexual Identity

From Youtube (embed please), post and analyse any video which promotes gay or lesbian identity in the contemporary USA.  What issues of identity appear paramount today?

            Gay TV On The Go is a national web-based TV network geared towards the LGBTQ community. It aims to provide its viewers with insights into the real lives, real issues, and real communities of LGBTQ individuals across the country. In addition to its national stations, it also has several regional stations that cater to the need of different LGBTQ communities, by focusing on local issues within each region. This particular video was broadcast by the national station on the 12th of November 2013, and highlights several contemporary issues concerning LGBTQ individuals in general within the United States today. 
            There are several points that are highlighted by  the video. One is that current issues regarding LGBTQ identity differ clearly from those that were central to the gay rights movement of the 1970-80s. For example, the key aim for a member of the LGBTQ community of the 1970s, as described in Carl Wittman’s “Gay Manifesto”, was an individualized one; to be accepted by openly declaring one’s sexual identity. Current issues, by contrast, focus on the concept of equality and address topics such as same-sex marriage and discrimination. To illustrate this point briefly, the video reports on the imminent passing of the SB10 bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the states of Illinois and Hawaii, whilst also noting the passage of a bill in the Senate to end discrimination within the job sector. This reasons for this shift of focus on issues regarding LGBTQ identity become a little clearer when one examines Livingston’s article more closely and find that we can infer that gays/LGBTQ no longer have to campaign for the acceptance of their identity, and that they have attained a certain degree of freedom and choice. Livingston is therefore able to claim that they no longer feel the need to ally themselves with a gay/ LGBTQ culture, and that current issues are not the common concern of all gay/ LGBTQ communities, but rather reflect the beliefs of certain individuals or communities within the broader LGBTQ movement.
            Another observation that can be made after viewing the video is that just as in the 1970-80s, politics, or if to be more specific, Republicans, still play a huge role in preventing LGBTQ individuals from attaining equal rights. Just as Reagan tried and often succeeded in preventing gays from being accepted as healthy, legal citizens, by depicting them as mentally ill patients, we can still see today that Republicans, under the banner of “traditional values”, attempt to sabotage any moves made by the LGBTQ community to establish equal grounding with “normal citizens.” This is made explicitly clear in the reference to an article from the Washington Times which reports Republicans as declaring that “the discrimination bill is going nowhere”, suggesting that despite the Senate passing it, they will continue to prevent the bill from reaching the floor of the House. In light of this, it could be said that without radical changes in the political sphere, LGBTQ individuals will continue to suffer in terms ofissues such as those raised within the video.
A criticism that could be levelled at the video is that whilst highlighting certain issues pertaining to LGBTQ communities, it offers no arguments or concrete evidence to its viewers as to why they should be entitled to rights such same-sex marriage or freedom from discrimination in the job sector. This is in stark contrast to the feminists we studied last week, who appeared to be more vocal and assertive in their attempts to prove why the discrimination and stigmatization of women were unfounded. Surely, if the purpose of the network is to inform its viewers about the issues facing LGBTQ communities, it would be in their best interests to expand upon concepts such as civil and constitutional rights in order to garner their support. This failure could be attributed simply to the way the network operates, in that it may purely want to pursue a format similar to that of a news broadcast, but nonetheless it does raise the question of whether the network truly considers the issues it mentions as paramount/important in furthering LGBTQ identity within America.
To conclude, we can say that in recent years there are several issues that have come to be considered of importance to gay identity. However, there is also evidence to suggest that such issues are not seen in the same light across the entire LGBTQ community, with some giving more consideration to certain areas than others. This, as noted above, can be attributed to some individuals feeling relatively content with how they are currently treated by society. In addition, we can also say that without some form of political reform LGBTQ communities will almost certainly continue to suffer in a manner similar to how they do today. Finally, it is interesting to note that the network appears to adopt a generally positive attitude towards recent developments regarding issues of central concern. This suggests that it wants to encourage its viewers to be optimistic, and to send out the message that despite full equality not having been achieved yet, steps are definitely being taken to ensure that this will happen at some point in the future.

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