We want to LGBeT+ in the media

Jessi Siebert, Staff Writer

Though LGBT+ movement is stronger than ever, things still aren’t quite perfect. We may be seen, but not everyone views us in the most positive light. The media has the power to influence the way we are seen.

 As a transgender lesbian, I feel that I’m qualified to say that the way we’re presented in the media is less than ideal. The trope of “bury your gays,” in which one or two queer characters are killed off for seemingly no reason, and the idea of the “token queer,” but what about positive, real representation? I won’t get into the semantics of each type of media and what it can or can’t do—that’s boring. Instead, I’ll focus on a certain medium and an example of said medium that includes at least one LGBT+ character. I’ll be reviewing the media, and giving it a score based on three criteria: accuracy, or how well it realistically represents the community; positivity, or how hopeful the message is and whether or not they have a happy, or justified, ending; and relatability, or how well real-life LGBT+ people can identify with this character or story in a meaningful way. 

Starting with a song is an odd choice, as most people wouldn’t think of music as a proper medium for LGBT+ representation. Most of the time, it’s about the experience of the artist as a member of the community, which is a type of representation in itself. However, the song I’ll be focusing on today is close to my heart. It’s “Make Up” by The Script, which is unique in the way that it presents the story of a fictional person. If you’ve never heard it before, it’s part of the Freedom Child album, and you can find it on YouTube. It’s the story of a transwoman as she dies of a cocaine overdose, a sad fate many young LGBT+ people meet. She recounts the life she had, the hardships she faced, and the acceptance she felt from her father. It’s beautiful in a way I only wish I could describe with words. But enough of that—it’s time to get into the ratings. Accuracy: 4/5 

I’ve never lived through this, but from the stories I’ve heard of other trans people, drug abuse is fairly common. The idea that we’re not accepted hurts, and there are many ways to numb that pain. Drugs are one of them. As for the recount of her life, every person is unique in how they experience being trans, but many, many people are faced with transphobia and scrutiny from their peers, and to have even one person support you makes all the difference. Positivity: 3/5

I know the concept of a person dying from a bad habit isn’t exactly the most positive of stories for the community, but the recount of her life and her experience is. The fact that her father supported her in his entirety, and did everything he could for her, is amazing. The ending of the song, with the lyrics “…find someone who smears your lipstick and keeps your mascara dry. If somebody’s got you crying, make sure that they’re tears of joy,” also gives the impression that her story isn’t over. She ends on a very hopeful tone, at least to me. Relatability: 3/5

Again, I’ve never experienced the substance abuse issue, but I have faced blatant transphobic behaviors, suicidal thoughts, and loneliness that comes with being a trans person. I’ve also felt the joy of having a parent support me as best they can. This song gets many things right, and I was floored to hear a song made for and about me. It still floors me every single time I hear it, that this is real, and for me. 

All in all, “Make Up” by The Script is a good first example of how LGBT+ people can easily be represented in media, with accuracy and care. The Script did an excellent job of giving voice to the dying and pained transwomen in the world, when many other forms of media won’t. 

Not all media with LGBT+ representation is as positive, however, and next time I’ll review a show that tries to market itself as a messiah of representation but only falls flat. I hope y’all look forward to reading it!