Queer representation and backlash in media

With the increase of LGBTQIA+ representation comes increased backlash


Jonas Corliss

A sign created by students in order to show Pride

Jonas Corliss, Staff Writer

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — Ever since the legalization of gay marriage in 2015, queer people and queer stories have become more prominent in the American mainstream. However, with the growing representation of queer people in media, there is near-constant complaining from those stuck in the past.

The following contains light spoilers for HBO’s “The Last of Us”

One of the main ways that people voice their criticism of queer representation is review bombing, which is when a large number of people leave negative reviews without critiquing the actual product. This happened recently with an episode of the TV show “The Last of Us,” where one episode’s main storyline was all about the love story of two gay men.

Another common occurrence is people making YouTube videos about how “woke media” is ruining the story. These videos often gain traction with conservative audiences, creating an echo chamber of hate. There are many examples of this all over the internet. One video, about “The Last of Us,” talked about how it isn’t appropriate to feature gay love due to children who might be exposed to the material. This video voiced no concerns about what would happen if children saw the violence in the show, just the queer characters.

Right-wing political commentators often talk about queer representation in media in negative ways as well. Tucker Carlson of Fox News had several rants where he talked about how M&M’s made two of their female mascots hold hands, implying that they were lesbians.

“[M&M’s] will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous,” Carlson said.

A sticker of a heart with a pride flag design

Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire spoke out against “The Last of Us” about their episode focusing on the gay love story. He claimed that the episode had nothing to do with the show. However, the episode displayed the way that people lived in the world and later tied into the plot. Shapiro has made no other complaints about the series.

Despite all of these instances, queer representation has never been stronger in all forms of media. There are plenty of examples of popular TV shows featuring queer stories. Some of the best examples of this come from “Stranger Things,” having one of its main characters be gay, and “Heartstopper,” a show focusing on queer lovers based on a popular internet comic series.

Queerness in music is even stronger. At the 2023 Grammy Awards, singer Kim Petras became the first transgender woman to ever win an award. There are plenty of other queer people thriving in the music industry. Some well-known examples include Lil Nas X, Frank Ocean, and Lady Gaga. These artists express themselves through their music and are accepted and celebrated around the world, helping spread awareness and love.

Despite the hate given out, queer people and representation have continued to grow and thrive. Queer shows, characters, stories, and musicians dominate in modern culture and show no signs of slowing down.