Lack of Representation in Media for Queer People of Color


Excerpt from Moonlight (2016)

It has been around 127 years since the first movie came out and 95 years since the first talking movie was released. Yet it has only been in these last couple years that queer characters were added to mainstream media and even less since they were represented as actual people and not just token characters for diversity.

“I think at times when people try casting queer POC it’s rarely black, and rarely represented by actors who are actually queer,” junior Aero Mosley said. 

Queer people have disliked the lack of diversity and inclusion, yet it has been ignored for several years but support for the LGBTQ+ community has kept growing and public opinion started changing.

Most accurate and diverse films about queer people are either documentaries about actual queer people of color or films done by queer directors that don’t reach an audience as large as mainstream shows. 

 “There are still many racist undertones from writers and directors of the shows,” junior Mojdeh Zare said.

Nitrate Kisses and Happy Together are two of the only films that date back to the 90’s, both about gay men of color. Nitrate Kisses shows couples with different racial backgrounds in a domestic setting, and Happy Together is a movie about a gay Chinese couple that moves from Hong Kong to Argentina. 

One of the first mainstream shows to be by queer people and include people of color dates back to 2009 when the first episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race aired. Rupaul Charles himself being a black gay TV host in a show about queer men performing in drag was shocking to the public but it gained more viewers over time.

However, Rupaul himself faced backlash for several transphobic comments. The show includes transgender contestants, which is why many question Rupaul’s role on the show and whether or not the representation in the show is meaningful. 

“At times the representation just seems like trying to get brownie points and is rarely an accurate representation,” Mosley said. 

But what about women of color who are part of the LGBTQ+ community? Lesbian women have been fetishized for men’s pleasure for several years. 

“Most of the time they are there for male satisfaction and it is disgusting,” Zare said. 

Most films that accurately represent lesbians don’t have women of color. Blue is the Warmest Color is a raw and realistic movie about a lesbian college student, but the main characters are all white people. 

Rafiki is one of the few movies that show a healthy and realistic lesbian romance between two black women who live in Nairobi.

The hit HBO show Euphoria has one lesbian couple, two high school girls who fall iin love, yet they never get to be happy, they never find peace. Why can’t queer couples ever get a happy ending?

This has been present for a long time, it would be to a certain extent accurate for old movies when the stigmas and stereotypes against queer couples were extremly high. But just like there are millions of movies where cisgender heterosexual couples get a happy ending, queer couples deserve to get them as well. 

“It reflects how the producers feel about the LGBTQ+ community,” Zare said.

The 2016 Oscar winning movie Moonlight perfectly tells the story of a young gay man and what he goes through because of where he grew up, his skin color, and the people around him. It is one of the only films to show men of color showing their emotions and being vulnerable without it being made fun of.

“Queer, POC, specifically black writers and directors need to be given a platform and then the representation will become more accurate and mainstream,” Mosley said.