Has Media Portrayal of Homosexuality Shifted/Changed Attitudes About the Subject?

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Has Media Portrayal of Homosexuality Shifted/Changed Attitudes About the Subject?

Attitudes about homosexuality have shifted greatly over the past 40 years, beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Mass media appears to have played a major role in more widespread acceptance of homosexuality, however negative perceptions still exist. In order to probe the level of acceptance among college students and what shapes their perceptions of homosexuality, a study was conducted by surveying male and female students at Morehouse and Spelman colleges. The purpose of this study is to statistically determine if attitudes toward homosexuality have changed or shifted due to the media’s consistent portrayal of it in today’s society. Due to the constant recognition and focus of and on homosexuals in today’s media, it can be clearly hypothesized that attitudes and beliefs and have been changed and shifted more toward the comfort with and acceptance of homosexuality. In comparison to past years, where most people were very vocal and forward about their negative attitudes toward homosexuality, in today’s society, people are believed to, overall, be more acceptable of homosexuals/homosexuality.         Prior to the well-known sexual revolution of the 1960s, sexuality and sexual orientation were very taboo subjects; only the heterosexual marriage (Sigusch, 2004) was considered for discussion. During this revolutionary time, cultures and society shifted attitudes and beliefs about the traditional values of sex and sexuality. Sex outside the heterosexual marriage was finally publicly acceptable and became a part of the new society’s norm. While many people distain this revolution as the cause of higher divorce rates, out-of-wedlock children, and alarming STD rates, others see the sense of freedom and sexual liberation as a positive byproduct. Despite the attitudes people owned, the opportunities for self-satisfaction and open homosexuality were available and since then, have taken on a revolutionary change of their own (Sigusch, 2004).       In many cultures, people have been exposed to a societal transformation of sexuality since the inception of the sexual revolution. Deemed the “neosexual revolution,” today’s society exhibits attitudes in which sexuality no longer has a symbolic meaning and has instead been replaced by diversification in intimate relationships and new forms of sex and gender, leading the way to unconventional, unexpected freedoms (Sigusch, 2004). Gradually, the media (in the form of television, music, theatre, and print) has set out to reinforce this revolution as it openly portrays and discusses homosexuality as a societal norm. What was once an unmentionable subject is now displayed in every medium: music lyrics and videos, television show and movie characters, pages of the hottest magazines, and by A-list celebrities and entertainers who candidly define themselves as gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual.       Although attitudes toward homosexuality have always tended to vary greatly, religion and the teaching of strict, traditional values have played a significant role in shaping the majority views of the way that homosexuality is accepted (Parrot, 2008). While it is more common today to see homosexuality in society and media, reception to the notion has not always been positive. In the early 1990s more than 33 percent of gay men and lesbians had reported being victims of interpersonal violence, hate crimes, and discrimination due to their sexual orientations (Parrot, 2008). The media has taken on the challenge of combating widespread homophobia, and seeks to portray characters and lifestyles in which its audience/followers can equally identify with and feel comfortable being represented by.       Prior to 1970, homosexuality could hardly be found through mass media and was not consistently seen until the 1990s. From the 1997-1998 television season to the 2000-2001 television season, the...
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