America has become acclimated to seeing a sea of rainbows in June, with almost every organization altering its logo to boost its “ally” credibility to the LGBTQ+ community. Whether it’s Nike changing their famous swoosh or litany of rainbow-colored pastries one may find in the supermarket, it’s difficult for anyone to argue that the rainbow isn’t foisted on the American populace for 30 straight days. President Biden even declared June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month,” adding the word “queer” for the first time in Presidential history. Despite this unprecedented acceptance, the LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood is taking this opportunity to speak about its continued marginalization.
In an open letter to Hollywood production companies, WGA West’s LGBTQ+ Writers Committee excoriated their lack of representation, money, and opportunity while demanding reparations. They state, “It is present-day Hollywood’s responsibility to make right all the harm caused by Hollywood’s past.” Admittedly, they do cite a couple of examples that would find broad support among culture: Hollywood’s tendency to check a box of LGBTQ+ inclusion, having only straight writers write gay characters, and the decrying of the “Hays Code,” which was replaced in 1968. (This code automatically assumed sexual perversion in reference to homosexual characters or actions).
Unfortunately, this letter did not stop with the actual indignities gay people have suffered. In fact, it was a daunting list of demands that would make the leaders of Black Lives Matter blush. With their abundance of entitlement and complete lack of self-reflection, the authors demanded without justifiable support that they need more money, better jobs, grander career paths and larger representation. They also demand industry leaders use their power to fight for them politically – “Hollywood must stand up and vociferously speak out against the wave of anti-trans legislation, not simply with words, but with actions. The industry has spoken out against anti-abortion and anti-voting laws in the past. We must do the same now.” My request for comment to Spiro Skentzos, one of the letters’ authors and a successful screenwriter (Arrow, The Drew Caray Show) was ignored. I asked what exactly made these laws “anti-trans” and “what actions specifically” Hollywood should take on a national level. These questions are necessary because the letter utterly fails to identify how these laws are anti-trans but then assumes that because of the authors’ identities, they should be trusted for their opinions.
The authors more or less decried almost every representation of themselves one would find in TV or cinema. They did this while using the term “queer” (a historical pejorative that many in the LGBTQ+ community still find problematic, with some gay men in particular considering it tantamount to the slur “faggot.”) They outright ignore the prominent amount of gay representation, especially in television.
One can scarcely turn on the TV most nights without seeing some type of representation for a community that is at most 10% of the population. Whether it’s Modern Family, This Is Us, Star Trek: Discovery, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Grey’s Anatomy, Frankie & Grace, Girls, 13 Reasons Why or anything created by Ryan Murphy, if anything, LGBTQ+ is actually over represented on TV. And it’s not just the standard Will & Grace representation of the past. There are a plethora of lesbians, non-binary storylines, Transgender characters, and everything in between. Even Blue’s Clues on Nickelodeon recently did an episode in which children learned about gender pronouns and transgender ideology. Several of these shows do not shy away from physical romance between the characters, including some that are gratuitously sexual. LGBTQ characters are portrayed positively 100% of the time, their lives treated as precious. Still, after all the success and representation the community enjoys in this country today, Hollywood in particular, it’s clearly not good enough for the permanently aggrieved self-appointed representatives who wrote this letter.
“The continuing, systemic forces of heteronormativity and bigotry are preventing us from rising in the ranks, and from being hired in the first place.” This claim is offered with scant evidence. The assumption that “systemic heteronormativity and bigotry” rather than a lack of talent being the main cause of their career aspirations not being met is a bold claim. It’s as if they’ve realized that a mob mentality with an insatiable list of demands is far more effective in our current culture than an impressive resume or portfolio of work.
In a time when the LGBTQ community has never enjoyed greater national prominence, acceptance and public fandom, these authors might consider turning their spirits over to gratitude and humility for those who made it possible. In reality, never has there been a minority group in this country that has risen above their discrimination so quickly. With the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, The Defense of Marriage Act, and the Supreme Court last year enshrining employment protections to the LGBTQ+ community, they have won every major political discrimination fight and done so with a speed never before seen. In 50 years, they got it all. The authors of this letter might want to consider the impressive body of work behind them and instead of proudly listing their demands in a sea of self-grandeur, humbly thank those who came before them, which allowed their voices to be heard in the first place.
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