Are we more comfortable with gay couples than with interracial couples?
Interracial relationships are more than same sex ones. That's a fact. But as Alissa Henry noticed, same-sex couples seem to be enjoying a "disproportionately large amount of representation" on TV than interracial couples. In her words, "interracial couples are relatively nonexistent". Anyone pick up on that?
Apparently, much as there has been a major rise in interracial relationships, the media seems to have given them some form of black out. It's like in the world of TV and Hollywood, interracial relationships are a rare phenomenon. Henry says:
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"… the Pew Research Center reported that in 2010, one in twelve married couples were interracial… the percentage of interracial married couples in general rose to an all-time high of 8.4 percent. (Keep in mind that this data includes only married couples, not the growing segment of unmarried cohabiters.)
In contrast, Gallup found that 3.4% of adults say “yes” when asked if they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender... the number may not reflect reality because some are probably not willing to identify themselves as LGBT. Still, if every single person were truthful about their sexual orientation, would the percentage jump high enough to warrant the proliferation of gay couples in the media and the dearth of interracial couples?"
Henry also wants us to take note of the fact that the 3.4% LGBT are individuals; not couples. So this means if we were to couple these individuals, the percentage will definitely go down "…yet it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that nearly every new television show nowadays has a gay character," she adds.
She gives an example of ABCs TV series "Scandal" where the character Olivia Pope (played by a Black woman) has an affair with the President; Grant Fitz who is White. This fictitious relationship has caused a stir on blogs because its interracial. Some bloggers say this relationship is not believable. Seeing as Olivia is having a relationship with a married president, even fewer people are comfortable comparing it to the Monica Lewinsky-President Clinton affair. Reason: Purely racial.
In the same show, there is a relationship between this gay couple Cyrus and James. Much as 9 states in the U.S. are against gay marriage, are we seeing a similar kind of disapproval on social media as Olivia and Fitz’s interracial relationship? Hell to the NO! Does this mean people are more comfortable with homosexual relationships? Do producers give same-sex couples more screen time because America would rather see a gay couple on TV than an interracial one?
If the answer to the above questions is "YES", Henry thinks:
"Interracial couples would absolutely experience more support in real life if they were at least proportionately portrayed on television… Because this has been the experience of same-sex marriage… the lingering prohibition of gay marriage is part of the reason that gay couples are cast more than interracial ones. Unlike anti-miscegenation laws that were declared unconstitutional more than 40 years ago … gay marriage is still not legal across the country. So Hollywood producers, writers and directors have taken it upon themselves to make people more comfortable with the gay couples around them by showing more gay couples on television. Putting these relationships onscreen in high numbers isn’t about accurate representation. It’s about normalization."
Because of this media attention, today, people regard gay couples as very common. American's seem to believe 25% of America is LGBT. And this assumption may have largely been influenced by the representation of these couples on TV. If Hollywood was to make a point of show-casting loving, normal interracial couples (with less family and societal drama surrounding their relationships), do you think more people would finally consider them more common; normal?
Here is something interesting Henry points out:
"Even the emoticons on my iPhone illustrate ignorance of the truth that a person is more likely to love someone of a different race than they are to love someone of the same gender. The only “couple” emoticons choices are a White heterosexual couple or a White homosexual one. The emoticon creators haven’t even acknowledged Black iPhone users, yet they’ve got the White homosexuals covered. It is so bizarre."
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