Don't Bury Us: The Need for Better LGBT Representation

From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The 100, shows have killed off queer characters to shock us more than a few times. But the reality is these deaths have become far from shocking. In 2015, 10% of deaths on television were LGBT women even though they make up less than 2% of television characters overall. 18% of all LGBT women on television were killed in the past year. 23 of the 26 LGBT deaths this year were female characters. Queer characters are extremely underrepresented on television, and when they are represented, they are often greeted with thoughtless writing, a minimal story arc, and ultimately, a tragic death.

The LGBT community has rallied under movements like LGBT Fans Deserve Better, calling out the "Bury Your Gays" trope in the media, and raising over $100,000 to date for the The Trevor Project. Within our community it has always been clear that we need and deserve better representation. We understand the importance of being able to see ourselves reflected on our TV and movie screens respectfully and accurately.

There are those who work in TV and in movies who fight back against our cries for better representation. There are those who don’t understand why we get so upset when a character who is beloved within the LGBT community is killed off. It’s very easy to dismiss the outcry that occurs, especially for people who get to see their own identities reflected on television every single day. Television should give everyone a chance to experience the harsh realities of the world. In the real world, we are actively discriminated against. In the real world, we are afraid of holding someone’s hand or wearing rainbow shoes in public. In the real world, we are getting murdered. When LGBT characters die on onscreen, it isn’t shocking or surprising, it’s a reminder of the harsh realities than many of our brothers and sisters have to face on a regular basis.

It’s irresponsible to create a world where we feel like these characters can dive into happiness and hope, and then be crushed inside of it. We don’t get happy stories to consume. We rely on positive narratives to validate our identities in a world that usually refuses to see us and constantly erase us.

We need more LGBT characters that get the respect they deserve. We are more than these lazy and short-sighted narratives. It’s time to step out of the heteronormative box and let us tell our stories ourselves.

Amanda M.'s picture
on June 24, 2016

Amanda is a nonbinary Philadelphia-based writer. She likes Doctor Who, Legos, 90s pop, any TV show that doesn't kill off the lesbian characters, and folk music. Sometimes people describe her as a hippie. They would be correct.

Pronouns: She/They