LGBT actors have long been typecast in mainstream entertainment as the sassy best friend, or the promiscuous neighbour. Playing into these stereotypes has been harmful for the community, and there has been very few opportunities for gay actors to play significant gay roles.
Today, things are still tough. But they’re getting better. This week it was announced that the UK would finally be getting their very own version of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Along with the drama and hilarity that comes with the show, there are also important stories of gay men that are shared each season.
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) December 6, 2018
Even though in the form of reality TV personalities, the UK TV landscape will have a television show that is made up of a majority of gay people. The only recent shows to have come before this were the Russell T. Davies 2015 trio of dramas Cucumber, Banana and Tofu.
On stage, the story is a little different. You don’t have to travel far to find a west-end show that celebrates a gay teenager as their protagonist, in Everybody’s talking about Jamie.
The story is about Sheffield’s Jamie and his struggle with not being accepted for his sexuality, but overcoming the bullies on a journey of self-acceptance. The show celebrated its one year anniversary last month.
The Voice of London spoke with people who had been to see the show about why LGBT characters like Jamie are so important today. In an exclusive interview, RuPaul’s Drag Race judge and one of the stars of the west-end show, Michelle Visage told us why she thinks stories like Jamie’s have to be shared. Listen here:
In the United States, shows celebrating diversity and inclusion like RuPaul’s Drag Race are more popular than ever, both commercially and critically – Visage and co were celebrating their Emmy wins only a few months ago.
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This is for every queen who has hit that main stage, for every kid who felt they never belonged anywhere, for every child who has been thrown out of their home for being LGBTQIA+, for every person out there who loves our show and what we do, THIS IS FOR YOU! I LOVE YOU ALL
Industry executives have voiced their frustration over the lack of LGBT characters on screen, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe completely removing these characters that existed in the original comic books when it came to putting them on screen.
Though this story isn’t uncommon, characters like Jamie are proving once again that LGBT representation in entertainment isn’t just profitable, its necessary.
Words, audio and featured image: Christian Onions | Subbed: Tabitha Durrant