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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    GLAAD media director speaks about LGBT films

    At this year’s Academy Awards, much of the conversation centered on the issues of sexual orientation brought up in the nominated film “”Brokeback Mountain.”” And while the film did not go home with a golden trophy for Best Picture, it was significant for putting matters that are often unspoken out on the table.

    “”This is a historic time in media. We are coming off a landmark year for (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender) this year. In film and in television, it’s time to celebrate and discuss,”” said Damon Romine, the entertainment media director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a group dedicated to promoting fair representation of LGBT people in the media.

    This afternoon at the UA, Romine will be discussing GLAAD’s aim to create a fair atmosphere as to how people of other sexual orientations are portrayed in various mediums of entertainment.

    To illustrate this, Romine gave a hypothetical example of an episode of “”Law and Order”” featuring a gay murderer, and to counter that he proposes that there also be a gay policeman.

    “”We can’t expect all images to be positive, but what we do like to say is for it to be balanced,”” Romine said.

    To some, the idea of simply viewing characters who are LGBT might not be the biggest issue when dealing with tolerance toward different sexual orientations. Romine brings up the point that television has had a large impact on our society.

    “”What people see on television, they take into account in their own personal lives as well,”” Romine said. “”Television can be seen more of an educator than school.””

    From that education there is hope that the images American people see on their televisions every day will translate to an increase in tolerance within society.

    In fact, Romine verifies that his job is not just a bunch of malarkey but has scientific thinking to back it up. Romine referenced a study done by the University of Minnesota that measured the attitudes of people toward gay men before and after watching “”Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,”” “”Will and Grace”” and “”Six Feet Under.”” The study results showed a decrease in prejudicial attitudes.

    Of the three television series mentioned, Romine cites “”Six Feet Under”” to exemplify what he is trying to accomplish in the realm of entertainment.

    “”‘Six Feet Under’ is not a ‘gay show’ per se, but a show for everyone, and it happens to show a gay character,”” Romine said. “”That should always be the case. The gay character is part of the canvas.””

    Romine said that going beyond educating those on the representation of LGBT people there is also the need to make LGBT people feel represented because less than 2 percent of scripted characters on television are LGBT.

    “”That’s a shame for one, but it’s also not accurate. Television is trying to represent their own audience but it’s not representing a very significant segment of people watching it,”” Romine said.

    Romine, who has received degrees in both journalism and communications at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked as a journalist, hopes to target those that are going into careers in media to take into account his message and to include the representation of LGBT people in their own work.

    “”I would like them to know that they can make a difference and that you don’t have to be LGBT to be inclusive to LGBT people,”” Romine said. “”We are people just like them. We do have families. We are people of faith. We deserve to be treated equally, and at this point we still don’t.””

    Romine will be speaking today from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Center for English as a Second Language, Room 103. This presentation is free and open to the public.

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