Quare in the Media

Today in class we were talking about white privilege because of the term we talked about “quare,” a term that is usually for LGBT people of color to use instead of Queer. I was thinking about how recently, LGBT people have been showing up in advertisements more often, in television and other media. It is interesting to see though, that usually, it is two white men portrayed in advertisements or two white women. It is funny to see that the way we are introducing the queer community into the media is through using white people to warm up the public. Famous gay people like Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris are constantly treasured (not that I don’t also like them, but they have no trouble being accepted by the public, having talk shows and multiple tv appearances). How many LGBT people of color can you name off the top of your head? Yet Ruby Rose, Kristen Stewart, Anderson Cooper, etc., seem to pop up right away. Even a search on google for lgbt celebrities will gladly redirect you to Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris in big font.

I think we are moving away from this though thankfully. Recently, Lush’s valentines day advertisement showed what appeared to be an interracial gay couple sharing a bath. However, the lesbian couple they showcased indeed was white. Also Laverne Cox has a role in a popular netflix series and presents awards on award shows. However, Caitlyn Jenner seems to be more of a transgender “icon” compared to Laverne Cox, due to fame and also most likely her whiteness. Despite Caitlyn Jenner being extremely problematic, she represents the trans community more than Laverne does in the public’s eye. RuPaul’s television show isn’t even on ordinary cable, even though it has won awards and is several seasons in.

While I think  we have made some strides, it would be great to put more LGBT people of color in media. I can understand why “Quare” is used in place of “Queer” for people of color considering the public, due to the media, associates Queer people as being white.

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6 thoughts on “Quare in the Media

  1. I think you have made some very good points in this post. When you mentioned queer celebrities, Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris did in fact come into my head first. There are no main “icons” for this community that are of color, and having that would be a good addition to this community so everyone could relate to an icon. I think that having this diversity that drifts away from the “two while male gay couple” as the go to representation for this community is very crucial. We talk about a lot how identity is a compilation of many aspects to make up one’s self, but when you stay true to the stereotype when entering the LGBT community, it should include diversity and different races because they are people just like us, and have race as a separate identity as their gender or sexual orientation. Having even commercials and advertisements straying away from this typical couple would be a great start to incorporating diversity and different races when talking about people in general, regardless of the makeup of the couple represented.

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  2. When I went to Lush for the first time it was right before Valentine’s Day and I saw the advertisement of a two female’s sharing the bath. I honestly didn’t even notice that they were both white because I was so shocked and excited to see a same-sex couple as the models instead of the typical heterosexual couple. Everyone in the store just walked past the ad without a turn of the head I was so impressed that I didn’t even question the models’ skin color because queer representation is rare and you learn not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Looking back on it though I wonder if people would have been more upset if they were a biracial couple or even if both models were POC. Sadly I feel like I know the answer though.

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  3. Hi Taylor,

    You wrote a very informative and interesting post. I agree with what you said, that those who fit into the LGBT community in the media are typically white—or at least those who are seemingly accepted and celebrated. When I think of LGBT people who are famous I personally think of Queen Latifah, Frank Ocean and Miley Cyrus, and with the exception of Miley Cyrus, the other two people I mentioned are rarely talked about in main stream media. This could be for a number a reasons other than their ethnicity, but I would imagine that their race does have something to do with it.

    This is the first I am hearing about Lush’s Valentines Day advertisement and while I think it is awesome it is LGBT inclusive it would have been even cooler if in fact they did use a same-sex interracial couple. However, as a brand i think they are very inclusive overall. Great post, have an awesome week!

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  4. I think that it was interesting that you mentioned that it is as if we are using white gay couples to warm the public up to the idea of a gay couple. This made me think of the cheerios commercial that featured an inter-racial couple a few years ago (I attached a link below). This commercial caused controversy because it showed a black man and a white woman. This reaction showed that being in an inter-racial is still a less accepted than a white or black couple. If you were to compound that with the couple not being heterosexual what would the reaction be? Would people react to the race or the sexuality more? I had not heard about the Lush ad but I think that it raises a lot of questions about how race and sexuality play off of each other when it comes to public opinion. You are definitely right that there is little LGBTQ+ representation in the media and what there is tends to be white.

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  5. “Queer” culture as portrayed by the media does seem to be mostly white, but this seems to be more a symptom of American media in general than something specific to the queer community. Ultimately, both the media and advertising campaigns exist for the purpose of making money, and they do so by appealing to the demographics that they think will be most effective towards that goal, namely rich people, who, due to historic discrimination against people of color, are mostly white. The move to “quare” rightfully allows for the inclusion of lived experiences outside the wealthy white “mainstream,” but in doing so makes queerness less marketable and thus less profitable, so non-white people rarely find inclusion as anything other than token demonstrations of diversity. Really normalizing non-whiteness, both quare and otherwise, will necessitate much larger changes to the means of media creation and distribution such that working class non-white people have just as much access to them as owning class white people do. Thankfully, the internet seems to be helping bring this closer to reality, but as long as traditional (television and radio) media and celebrities retain their privileged position in the public consciousness, change will come slowly at best.

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  6. I think this ties in to something that our book mentions called identity politics, and the trouble of only having the most privileged of a certain group represented when that group is being addressed. It definitely misses the point of intersectionality in feminism.
    This post honestly helped me notice a bit of my privilege, because I was always under the impression that the LGBTQ community had a diverse representation in media. I really noticed that it’s so easy for me to name white gay Hollywood celebrities, and that’s about it. Since I’ve never really had to worry about it, I wasn’t able to see that discrepancy in representation.

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