GEND 3046 Media

Scroll down for more webnotes for Queer Media.

Sidebar: Cultivating generativity in Toronto’s queer communities:

Your thoughts on the article? Questions? Comments? Critiques?

I had to cut this out of the final article, but I believe it may be helpful here:

A universalizing discourse frames all sexualities as fluid, unpredictable, and changing. In contrast, a minoritizing discourse suggests that there is a distinct population of persons who are “really gay” (Sedgwick 1990: 85). Sedgwick contrasts “a universalizing discourse of acts” with “a minoritizing discourse of identities.”[i] Within a universalizing discourse, sexual acts do not make you a kind of person (i.e., gay, lesbian, straight) and it is presumed that “everyone may experience some measure of same-sex or opposite-sex desire in relative degrees at different times.”[ii] Relatedly, sexes—as in the categories of male and female—are not characterized as inherent to bodies but socially constructed categories used to organize bodies.[iii] It is not that one is male or female, girl or boy, man or woman, but that bodies are organized into these powerful discourses and subjects come to see themselves through them. In turn, all discourses—even queer ones—are regarded as inherently regulatory. Susan Driver characterizes such a Foucauldian assumption in the following way: “subjects are no more and no less free now than ever; they are merely subjected to different ideas and practices.”[iv]

[i] Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet, 86.

[ii] William Stacy Johnson, A Time to Embrace: Same-sex Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2012), 297.

[iii] Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet, 85.

[iv] Susan Driver, Queer Youth Cultures (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008), 17.

I had to cut sections on the different thresholds of hetero / closet / homo for cis-male characters and cis-female characters, so that is published here:

I had to cut sections on the post-closet characters, so that is published here:

I had to cut sections on how the victim and bully eventually formed romantic relationships, so I published that here:

In terms of his argument, Becker is suggesting that American TV is featuring more and more representations of heterosexual men expressing affection and love for each other.

“Guy Love:”

These relationships between men usually involve a clear assertion of their heterosexuality along with a declaration that “it’s okay to be gay.”


What does androgyny do to gay / straight?


Screenshot from instagram, yesterday:


According to Becker, the categories of straight and gay are interdependent.


These authors are suggesting that homosociality requires men to interact in ways that from one angle looks like heterosexual bonding or fraternizing, but at other times can look – in Sedgwick’s words – quite startlingly homosexual.

Below 50 cent highlights the “fuzzy line between homosexuality and homosociality” (123).”

Becker’s point is that if you take these different kinds of male-bonding and add in the 20th century beliefs that homosexuality can be hidden or might appear at any time, then heterosexuality and homosocial bonding are always suspect. Homosexuality is never entirely ruled out.

Let’s watch a few videos and see what we make of these different examples:


Is this “queer straight masculinity”?

Flight of the Conchords “Bret, you got it goin’ on”

Your thoughts? Queer straight masculinity? If not, how would you describe this?

How do these “queer straight masculinities” self-consciously navigate homophobia?

“Bromance” music video:

What do you make of the words? The ending?

The rules of engagement

Some final thoughts on Becker and the gendered contours of heterosexuality:


The Celluloid Closet: (10:08)

“Bury Your Gays”: (6:58)

2. It Gets Better you-tube campaign

In response to increasing media coverage of “queer youth suicides,” Dan Savage initiated a youtube-based anti-suicide campaign aimed at queer youth in crisis. Dan and his partner Terry made one video and invited others to post their own:

Dan and Terry:
2,113,350 views on October 19 2016

Samantha King analyzes the media coverage of Sheryl Swoopes “coming out.” What are some of the main points she is making?


Swoopes is quoted in People as explaining:

“I had a boyfriend, and the thought of it never crossed my mind. I always had gay friends and we were cool. We hung out. But I didn’t think about women that way. My marriage was beautiful, but we were both young, and we both grew up and went our separate ways.”


Here is one brief example:

What is the evidence? What is the argument? What are the contradictions?

Why is that such an appealing argument?  

King on the choice / innate debate:

a.) The biological argument typically only leaves room for hetero and homo. Any fluid sexualities – likes Swoopes’ – are erased. Anyone who has sexual desires and love for both males and females in their lifetimes are confounding this idea that one is naturally and biologically hetero or homo.

b.) “Categorizing same-sex desire as innate and hence beyond individual control does not lead automatically to safety from discrimination or greater sexual freedom, although it does further entrench such desire as requiring explanation and hence pathological” (p. 278). What does she mean?

What do you make of her claims?

Race, class and gender as constituting factors in constructions of sexuality.

King discusses how Swoopes and Byears were represented very differently within the media. What does King write about the ways in which these two women were depicted in starkly different ways?

Byears is written about in the following ways: “Byears has tattoos and cornrows and gold teeth, and when she was growing up, she says she wanted to be a pimp,” wrote Quinn, Red, and O’Keeffe (2005, 6). “She isn’t the lipstick lesbian that some of the American public find palatable; she was the league thug, a tough rebounder who was known as the Dennis Rodman of the WNBA” (Quinn, Red, & O’Keeffe, 2005, 6).


Just as it is important to analyze the ways in which gay and lesbian identities get whitened in popular culture, King is also pointing out how we can also do intra-race analyses as well. We should always take note of gender and class-stratification within gay and lesbian representation.

King also says that when pro tennis star Martina Navratilova came out in 1981 she “was spurned by her sponsors not only because she was a lesbian, but because of Cold War ideologies that shaped her depiction as an emotionally cold, masculine, Czechoslovakian lesbian, and hence not properly American and not quite a woman” (p. 281).


According to King how is homophobia depicted in the U.S. sports media?  

In the coverage of Swoopes’ coming out who had she already told about her relationship with Scott and who was supportive of her?  

ANOTHER EXAMPLE – not about homophobia, but transphobia

How would you analyze this video in relation to media claims about Black American communities?  


The reading for today looks at a series called Queer As Folk.

BTW, all five seasons of Queer As Folk are available at the university library:


Showtime – profits, valuable viewers, capitalism


See for example:

Gay men:
tumblr_m60e21gvwm1qbopvjo1_500 hqdefault-1 qaf1 queer-as-folk-bathhouse



How are these representations in keeping with mainstream ideas about sex and gender?

The series is pushing at boundaries and playing it safe at the very same time.

Racist–Katsuo, Emmett’s “boyfriend”

Classist – Michael’s mom



So what do organizations like GLAAD say about stereotypes? See for yourself: and


A new 2016 publication tackles this subject:

The reading suggests that not all heterosexuals are valued equally. What do you think about the “Charmed Circle” diagram on page 15?

Hall does not believe that we can take any meaning from a text. Rather we are working with shared cultural meanings. We encode and decode in roughly similar ways.

Increasingly we need to regard media consumers as media producers or “media users.” Examples: remixing videos, creating memes, fanfiction, online comments, online columns.