Students Voice the Importance and Effect of Gay Television Characters

photo courtesy: Twitter

photo courtesy: Twitter

hannah reussner, reporter

The movies and TV shows “Modern Family,” “Pitch Perfect,” “The Tudors” and “How I Met Your Mother” influence students’ opinions about gay people.

“I’m a Christian… and since I don’t necessarily support gay rights… I don’t like the movie or show because there are gay people,” sophomore Ally Hertig said.  “It’s not something I support so it’s not something I am going to be excited to see.”

After having watched “The Tudors,” a show set in the post-renaissance era, senior Tucker Prescher feels more sympathetic toward gay people portrayed as he watched them being executed for who they were.

 “Seeing what gay people had to go through historically… adds perspective,” Prescher said. “It adds another layer of depth to the show.”

Similarly, sophomore Derrick Turner and junior Sonia Schoneich believe gays are just like everyone else.

Regardless, movies often portray gay characters as exhibiting exaggerated gay stereotypes.

“[The gay characters in movies are] way overdone,” Turner said.

Turner said sometimes the gay characters in TV shows add a new dimension of humor and “can help [gay individuals] by giving them a role model but it could hurt them if viewers see the over-acted scenes.”

Television shows and movies that openly portray gay characters may help some to finally come out.

This is based on whether or not gay individuals are put in a situation where they are targeted or respected by others.

“It depends if [gays] are being harassed constantly or if they’re accepted for who they are,” Hertig said.

Many students’ views on gay marriage are influenced by their parents and the culture in which they are growing up. The inclusion of gay characters in movies and TV shows sparks conversations between parents and their children.

 Hertig knows that her parents would not watch a movie with a gay character in it.

“They [parents] believe the same as me so they aren’t going to watch a movie because there is a gay character,” Hertig said. “But the movie won’t get turned off [if there is],” Hertig said.

 But, not everyone believes the same as the older generation.

 “I know my dad doesn’t think [gay characters have] any place in popular media and I don’t think my mom has any opinion necessarily,” Prescher said.

As they grow up, students formulate their own opinions about gay characters. Some may think that these shows help gay individuals feel more comfortable with who they are, and some think it hurts their self-worth.

 “[Having a show with gay characters in it] can help them by giving them a role model so they will be like, ‘Oh yeah, that guy is gay so I’ll just be like him,’” Turner said.

 “I don’t support gay rights but I don’t hate the gays,” Hertig said.