PSA: "The Media is Not Making Us Gay!"
As I sat listening to one of my (now former) favorite rappers, I nodded my head along to the music. I turned my volume all the way up. I even brushed my teeth and danced all the way to the living room listening to this guy. Wanting to hear more of his music I quickly searched him up on YouTube. Thousands of hits came up, including interviews he had done as recently as last year. Being an ever curious cat, I watched one of his interviews and began to listen. What I heard next, disheartened me.
This rapper went on to explain his ideas of homosexuality and raising children. He adamantly expressed how he wanted his children to be "straight". He explained how America is moving towards eliminating boundaries and he doesn't feel that it is appropriate. He even said that TV "programs" children, by way of movies and cartoons, into believing homosexuality is normal.
At first I was all fired up. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind on IG or anywhere else for that matter. Then I took a step back. I thought to myself, "If one person is openly saying these things, how many more people are saying or thinking these things?" How many people are sitting at home banning their children from the "gay agenda" on television? How many people are being outright homophobic, but saying it is a matter of "personal child rearing options"? Far too many in my opinion.
Many people think that queer TV or film characters will influence their children to become a person of queer identity. They are under the assumption that social media campaigns and slogans will make their children decide to "try on" a queer lifestyle. If you believe this, I am here to tell you, that is all a myth.
It is Beyond Us
In order to understand how there is no "gay agenda", other than being out and proud, one must first understand how sexuality develops from what we currently know. The American Psychological Association says, "There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation." No consensus would imply that nobody agrees on what makes a person a certain sexual orientation. One thing that we can agree on is that identifying with a sexual orientation is a complex issue.
There is no clear indication of what causes an individual's sexuality and it is not something we inherently "choose". It seems to me that blaming the media is a scapegoat used for people who are uncomfortable with queerness. As humans who have the capacity to reason, we feel that every effect has a cause. Not adhering to heteronormativity is one of the things we have to accept not having a clear answer to.
It Is Not a Choice
The second thing we must understand is that sexuality is not a choice. No one wakes up and decides their sexuality. Rather the choice is this; "Will I accept and act on the sexual feelings I have towards a specific set of people?" "If I have feelings of attraction to the same sex or multiple sexes will I choose to act on those feelings?" The choice lies in how we handle our sense of sexuality, not in choosing the sexuality itself. The same article from the American Psychological Association also reports "According to current scientific and professional understanding, the core attractions that form the basis for adult sexual orientation typically emerge between middle childhood and early adolescence. These patterns of emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction may arise without any prior sexual experience. People can be celibate and still know their sexual orientation."
We Existed Before the Media
According to a queer culture website Pink News article, the first openly gay character to have a recurring role appeared in 1972 as Peter Panama played by Vincent Schiavelli. The second was Jodie Dallas played by Billy Crystal in 1977. We can rightly assume that people before 1972 identified as LGBTQ+. If you would like evidence outside of science, one can simply look at a religious text such as the Bible, which many people believe make reference to homosexuality. We know for sure there was no "media" when the Bible was said to be recorded so people couldn't possibly be influenced by it. With people that did not see openly gay characters on TV on a regular basis, how would they have come to that realization of their own sexuality, except from an internal sense of self? Simply put, we know who we are without people telling us.
If anything the media has given an avenue for people of different sexual orientations to express themselves. The media gives a way to affirm to some that there are others like them. Also the media can reassure you that you are just a "normal" person worthy of a space. To the media's credit, what it can do is help foster an accepting environment in a similar way it for women and minorities. It can open up discussions and allow us to hold space for taboo topics. While we can be sure that the media is a powerful force of influence, we can also be sure that the media is not deciding our sexual orientation for us.
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