By: Emilie Maia

Picture a piece of history that means something important to you. It could be because you relate to it, an older family member told you their experience, or it could be just you felt something towards it in general. My project is going to be on LGBTQ role models then and now. I chose this topic because It was a piece of history that we don’t really learn or talk about in school. It’s important to know as rights for them are still being fought today. LGBTQ icons have really made an impact on everyone who is not even a part of the LGBTQ community. Therefore, I would like this to target more of the LGBTQ community. I would also like this to target the public. Everyone needs to learn more because fights for their rights are still happening and there are so many leaders that us who aren’t apart of the community can still look up to for more knowledge and awareness of LGBTQ. I would also like to have the general public to mostly include teachers and students as well and get more people involved in the topic in classrooms and not shy away from it.  LGBTQ community is only getting more stronger, and I believe that Gay celebrities’ and media has opened the world up more to new possibilities such as acceptance and awareness compared to previous decades. Here’s why… 

Word Monkey  

The issue is that we still see controversy in the LGBTQ community. I believe historians have shied away from this topic back then and another group stepped in and took over. Not to say historians never talked about. But we mainly here it from celebrities. Which is not a bad thing when you think of their large number of fans such as Elton John, Ru Paul, Madonna, David Bowie, Boy George, and so much more who are openly in support and/or who were also a part of the LGBTQ community. One celebrity I’ve seen recently on the news is Elliot Page who came out as transgender. Page had gotten surgery and that’s when she came out. In the clip by Entertainment Tonight he says to interviewers, “It was not just life changing but lifesaving.” He tells how he felt and just how he sees his life as truth now that he became, he who he was after avoiding it for so long. I see Page as a role model for those who are also trying to figure themselves out. 

Eliot Page. Google Photos

Entertainment Tonight. Eliot Page Interview.

In a book I found called, “Categorically Famous : Literary Celebrity and Sexual Liberation in 1960s America”, by Guy Davidson. The book was about how factors such as celebrities have made sexual liberation possible. And how being closeted and openly gay has start to change and people are being more open. One quote that talks about celebrities support and boost in change is, “The foundational political strategy of gay and lesbian liberation, has become an increasingly noticeable feature of modern-day celebrity culture, with social media enhancing opportunities for its solicitation and expanding the opportunities to carry it out… mass-mediatized queer celebrity is obviously meaningful for many, helping to organize both public understanding and individuals’ lived experience of LGBT identities. And the continuing articulation of queer sexuality across a range of media— literature as well as more popular formats— and across a range of celebrity personas suggests the ongoing urgency and vibrancy of the project of liberation.” Media that I choose to think of whenever I think of how far LGBTQ identities have come, I think of how much representation is beginning to form in movies. We see a popular rise in teen movies especially. Such as “Call Me by Your Name, Love, Simon, and Boys Don’t Cry.” But one I really want to stress is the movie called, “Brokeback Mountain”. The first mainstream queer film of the new millennium made in 2005. What really made me want to talk about it was because of how it is still talked about. It was a big conversation that was beneficial for the LGBTQ community as it was discussed and a popular talk of conversation. In the video below you’ll hear Jake Gyllenhaal, a main actor of the movie, address identity and how it opened his mind up acting the role of a gay man in the 60’s.  



A journal article I came upon online called, “Perspectives of LGBTQ emerging adults on the depiction and impact of LGBTQ media representation,” shows the impact of social media on teens and how they can receive the message of the LGBTQ community. For example, the article states, “Media consumption may be defined diversely, including by means of ‘frequency, decency, or … content.’ As consumption increases, access to depictions of constructs (such as LGBTQ people) also intensifies… As media use by young people increase, so does their exposure to media messages. A media message is the transmission of cultural experiences through characterological representations that socialize by creating and reinforcing behaviors and meanings of cultural appropriateness. As LGBTQ representation has increased, LGBTQ identities have become increasingly accessible. Media informs people’s knowledge of LGBTQ people and is often the first place that individuals – including young people who subsequently identify as LGBTQ.” Social media plays a huge factor in what goes on in teens daily lives. If we keep spreading on social media, then generations after can pass on the pieces of history we are experiencing now.  

Screen Time and Teens Wellbeing, University of Oxford 

‘Moderate amounts of screen time may not be bad for teenagers’ well-being’ | University of Oxford 

In conclusion, LGBTQ community is only getting more stronger, and I believe that Gay celebrities’ and media has opened the world up more to new possibilities such as acceptance and awareness. 

[i] Entertainment Tonight. 2021. “Eliot Page Opens Up in First Interview Since Coming Out as Transgender.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL0Nn9ScsrM  

[ii] Lauren B. McInroy and Shelley L. Craig. 2017. “Perspectives of LGBTQ emerging adults on the depiction and impact of LGBTQ.” http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.usca.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=5b7bbb1d-2acd-484a-913d-afe9cc07761a%40sessionmgr4008 

[iii] Davidson, Guy. 2019 “Categorically Famous: Literary Celebrity and Sexual Liberation in 1960s America.” https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/usca/reader.action?docID=6143785 

[iv] Galloway, Stephen. LMU School of Film and Television. 2015. “The Hollywood Masters: Jake Gyllenhaal on ‘Brokeback Mountain,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anGypG5-T-8 

Further Reading: 

Content (sc.edu) 

50 Years of Pride — Google Arts & Culture 

How to Site this Article:  

Emilie Maia, “LGBTQ Community Role Models and Social Media on: How it Opened the World Up More to New Possibilities Such as Acceptance and Awareness,” Digital History at USC Aiken, 2021, Edit Post ‹ LGBTQ Role Models Then and Now — WordPress 

One thought on “LGBTQ Role Models and Social Media On: How it Opened for New Possibilities and Awareness

  1. Emilie, I think this is a very informative article on a topic that needs to be talked about more. I love how you talked about celebrity support for the LGBTQ community and how with this support it is easier being open about who you are.

    Like

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