Out of the closet, not on TV

By ERIK MEDINA

 I believe that representation allows us to move toward equality, and it is what I feel most minority groups desire. 

The year 2018 was great for representation for many minority groups. “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Black Panther” broke boundaries. Both films have most, if not all, actors of minority descent. 

“CRA” was the first major theatrical release to have an all-Asian cast since “The Joy Luck Club,” which was released in 1993. “Black Panther” also showed hiring minorities doesn’t jeopardize a film’s success. The film predominately was cast with black actors and had a variety of people of color working behind the scenes such as director Ryan Coogler. 

Aside from ethnicity, we also saw more female-led films such as “Oceans Eight” and “A Simple Favor.” Both films portrayed females in a different manner, giving them more of an empowering role. “Ocean’s Eight” had a diverse cast as well, with the likes of Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina and Rihanna. 

However, I feel there has been a lack of representation of one group of minorities, the LGBTQ community. My intentions, though, aren’t to divert the spotlight from any other group or to imply that one group is more important than another.

Two individuals in the music industry that have done an exceptional job of representing the LGBTQ community are Hayley Kiyoko and Troye Sivan. Both have been writing and performing songs about love between same-sex couples. 

Kiyoko’s music video for her single, “Girls Like Girls,” reached 100 million views on YouTube in December, according to Billboard. The videos tells the story of two girls who are good friends. One of the girls begins to develop feelings for the other, despite the other being in a relationship with a boy, and she is left feeling conflicted. 

Sivan released a video trilogy for his “Blue Neighborhood” album that depicts two childhood friends who have a romantic relationship. 

The videos tell the struggles that their same-sex relationship faces. To date, this trilogy has 114 million views. 

Representation doesn’t only lie in films. Many new members of Congress are women, including an increasing number of women of color. A couple of notable names this year are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is currently the youngest member to be appointed a member of Congress at the age of 29.  

Closer to Tucson is Krysten Sinema, the first openly bisexual woman to be part of the U.S. Senate. She also is the first Democrat to represent Arizona since 1995. 

My reason for wanting more representation is because those who think that anything other than heterosexuality is a choice and being anything other than heterosexual is a simple lifestyle. I want those individuals to know that it’s anything but that. 

Being LGBT isn’t a choice.  As Lady Gaga said, “We were born this way.” Because of this, we face discrimination, hate and acts of violence. 

Recently, Jussie Smollett, an actor on the FOX TV show “Empire,” was attacked. During the process, he was called racial and homophobic slurs. In May, a teacher in Mansfield, Texas, was put on administrative leave for showing a picture of herself and her partner to her students, according to the New York Times. 

The FBI Hate Crime Statistics from 2017 found 7,106 hate crimes involving 8,493 victims. From those victims, 16 percent were targeted because of their orientation. 

I believe that these acts would decrease if people were more aware of the challenges posed to these individuals, including the hatred and discrimination they receive just for being themselves. If people could hear the stories, or experience more films, music and other forms of content were put out that could inform the public that it’s not nonsense, I feel people would gain a better understanding of THEIR community.

Finally, I thank the allies. Those individuals who stand with the LGBT community and fight for justice and equality, who don’t fear backlash or ridicule for standing up for the cause. I thank you. 

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