Thursday, April 19, 2012

Discussion Points for Betty Berzon's " What Is Gay and What Is Not"

I chose to present this article because I feel that it relates to everyone, whether they like it or not. Living in a society surrounded by gay people is not something that we can avoid as many of us have family members, friends, co-workers, or famous people who we know in the media, are gay. It's not easy for many people to just come out of the closet as I know a close friend who still hasn't, but I know that if more and more people do, then maybe eventually society can come to accept it. And if you think about it, living in a modern society, you would think discrimination and misconceptions about gays would be an old thing. Hopefully, the media can educate Linkpeople and change the way how some feel and think about homosexuality.

Information about the article:

The article “What is Gay and What is Not” discusses how being gay is not a choice, it is something that is predetermined at birth. Gay people are no different from heterosexuals except for their sexual orientation. There are
so many misconceptions such as common myths that people have for gays and
the only way for society to realize that gays are just like straight people, is if gays are more visible in society. And by keeping oneself in the closet is to succumb to being “undesirable” or “inferior.”

Bottom line:

There are many misconceptions that society has about homosexuality. And the only way to overcome it is the increase of their visibility in society.

Questions for the class:

1. The presence of more gay people in the media can definitely help society to ease into accepting them, but do you think there is also a disproportionate amount of visibility of gays oppose to lesbians in the media? If so, do you think that being a lesbian is more acceptable in our society?
2. Do you think the media currently stereotypes gays and how can the media change that?
3. Is there any one particular individual in the media who you think has paved the way for gays?
4. Are there any other common myths that you have heard about being gay, which wasn’t covered in this article?


  1. I really liked reading this article, as it cleared up different misconceptions that I’ve encountered on issues of what gay is and is not. You would think in the modern society in which we live, there wouldn’t be so much discrimination and people would accept gender and sexuality the way it’s presented and that’s it. But, unfortunately it doesn’t happen as easy as we’d expect. That’s why becoming media literate is so important, being educated, and knowing how to decode messages and images in the media to help build a more knowledgeable foundation for the future of LGBT communities.

    1. I think because this is a ‘women’ in the media class, our main focus is to see how ‘women’ are represented. So in terms of our gender and sexuality topic, we’re only focusing on lesbians in the media. I think there is a disproportionate amount of visibility of gays opposed to lesbians. I think because our main focus is on women, we aren’t exposed to discussing gays in the media as much as women in this course. However, even thinking off the top of my head, I couldn’t honestly tell you one show where the visibility of gays was more dominant than lesbians. Even the clips that Cassie showed in class were all about lesbians in the media. What about the gays? Why isn’t there more visibility of gays in the media today? I think that answers the second part of the question, that lesbians are more accepted in society. Maybe, because it ‘threatens the patriarchal society’ we live in, like VIktorsha said. Since men have this predisposition to be masculine, there’s a potential threat to society if the media exposes too much visibility of gays and flamboyancy.

  2. 3. During the class discussion about homosexuality being predetermined at birth, Professor Feder brought up an interesting point. What if someone did choose to become gay or lesbian? What is so wrong about that? This reminded me of the backlash and controversy that erupted a few months ago regarding a comment made by actress Cynthia Nixon. During a speech, Cynthia Nixon, who is mainly known for her role in "Sex and the City," said that it was her own decision to become gay. I thought that by her saying this that it was paving the way for the gay community in media. However, many gay activists thought that the comment suppressed the LGBT community since homosexuality isn't a choice for everyone. I understand that her comment probably wasn't relatable or true to all gay and lesbian people but how is it damaging? Since it was her own decision to become gay, this only represents her as an individual and not a representative of all gay people. Also, since she said it was her decision, isn't this showing that she is proud to be gay and that a gay lifestyle can be desirable for people. Despite the backlash, I think her comment was helpful to the lesbian and gay movement. She shows that there is nothing wrong with choosing to be gay. Perhaps if more attention is given to people who choose gay lifestyles, then society will be more understanding and open to gays and lesbians in general.

  3. Unfortunately when it comes to gender there are no gray areas. There is no female, male and other. Society has the power to label and define those who are different. Homosexuality carries a social stigma that at times prevents individuals from excising their sexual orientation. They are the victims of hate crimes and sexual prejudice. I do think that the gay community is not only underrepresented in the media but that their reality at times is distorted and generalized. Most characters are portrayed as overly flamboyant and fashion savvy . Obviously this common depictions are inaccurate as humans vary widely from one another. I can’t think about a gay celebrity that has paved the way for others however individual’s acts of resistance towards the hegemonic expectations of heterosexuality can motivate others to do the same.